Tabitha Swanson is a Berlin-based multi-disciplinary designer, creative technologist, and artist. Her practice includes 3D, animation, augmented reality, digital fashion, graphic design, and UX/UI.
Commercially, Tabitha has worked with brands including Vogue Germany, Nike, Highsnobiety, Reebok, Origins, and others to create beautiful work in the creative tech and design sphere. Artistically, her work is used as a form of therapy, often composing questions rather than answers, and trying to faintly touch the unseen edges of human existence.
Hey Tabitha! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and your work? When did you get started creating art, and how did you find your way into the Digital Fashion space?
Since I could hold a pencil, I was always drawing and from about 11 onwards, I started keeping sketchbooks of my different fashion lines. I’ve always been creating art, but when I went to university, I started using my creativity for more marketing-intended purposes and less for creating art. I went to school for graphic design, fashion marketing, and then finished with a Marketing Degree. After marketing school, I co-founded a small agency with a former classmate and we ran that. There was definitely creativity to it, but there was a huge analytical side to it as well.
When I moved to Berlin 5 years ago, I made a promise to myself to make something everyday, whether that be a painting, a drawing, or something digital. At the time, I had also transitioned into working in UX/UI and ended up getting a full-time job at a fashion tech company. It was great, but I felt like I really had something to say and decided to quit my job in 2019 to pursue a freelance career in 3D and XR, which I taught myself through Youtube. This year, I decided to revisit my fashion history and start my own digital fashion line All The Hidden Things, which felt more approachable because of my experience in 3D design.
I’ve worked with a number of fashion companies making AR filters for them, including Vogue Germany, and I’d love to continue those types of collaborations with my digital fashion creations.
What inspires you to create digital fashion? What messages are you trying to express with your style?
Growing up, fashion was always my passion, I love the element of expression behind it and the psychological aspect to it. People are so interesting and it’s totally an aspect of their being.
With digital fashion, my main intention is to continue to express, but really trying to utilize the benefits of the digital realm. I enjoy using materials, scenarios, and landscapes that would be impossible IRL, and merging elements of both art and fashion.
How do you think digital fashion will be integrated in society in the future?
I think it will be more integrated definitely, especially for marketing and media purposes. I think using augmented reality will also help reduce waste by allowing people to try on clothes before they buy them and also so people can wear fits for social media purposes. Digital fashion still produces waste through energy usage and hardware used to create it and use it, and as people still need IRL clothes, we need to ensure we don’t create double the waste. I look forward to digital fashion becoming more sustainable through technological advancements.
Your piece “Honey” is very playful and evocative. Can you please speak on the creative process that went into its design? What inspired you to create this piece, and how do you envision your audience will interact with and interpret your designs?
I really wanted to make something beautiful and fun, something I’d want to wear when I went out. I’ve been in my house so much over the last year and a half, but I love getting dressed up and using fashion as a sort of personal expression. The full name is Honey (and the duality of everything) and I think the duality is present there – both sweet and a little spicy. I hope the audience will like it as much as I do.
What tools and software do you use? How long does it take you to craft a piece? Do you start with a clear vision, or does a piece take shape as you work?
I’m a big fan of exploring new tools. The restrictions of each software challenge me to find new solutions. For this piece, I used Clo3D, but I also use Blender, the Adobe CC suite, Substance Painter, and Spark AR regularly, alongside other tools more casually.
It’s hard to say how long an average piece takes, rather, the piece will tell me when it’s done. Sometimes it’s a couple of hours, sometimes a few days. I sometimes have a very clear vision, those will often come to me in dreams, but sometimes I just sit down and it comes out of me – I like that feeling the best because it feels like my subconscious is guiding me.
When did you get involved in the NFT space? How do you think NFTs can change the creative landscape?
I minted a couple of NFTs earlier this year, but had a moderate case of covid and couldn’t keep up with it. Now though, I’m ready for round two and feel thankful for so much support from the community and for everyone who has collected my NFTs so far. I’m grateful to you folks at Portion as well for including me in this drop with other digital fashion designers who I respect and admire.
I think NFTs can change the landscape by allowing artists greater opportunity to make a living through their art. They’ve truly been life-changing for so many people. The community is amazing as well, I’m excited to go further into this world.
What are some of your observations about the emerging behaviors in the digital fashion space and what do you see as next opportunities for this industry? How do NFTs change things?
I think AR is definitely hot in the fashion industry right now, not only for the fun tech appeal, but also to solve real issues like incorrect sizing orders when purchasing clothes online, which cause a lot of waste and pollution through delivery, returns, cleaning, etc. The tech is still getting there, but soon, we’ll be able to see what clothing will look like on you with your exact measurements.
I think what’s also cool is translating fashion experiences into the digital realm, but not as a direct translation. I think embracing the limitlessness and world-building abilities of digital spaces can allow for incredible works of art.
Do you have any advice for artists just getting started on their digital design journey?
It might sound cliché, but just go for it. There’s going to be a learning curve, but by doing it everyday, even if it’s only for 30 minutes, it’ll allow you to learn faster than you’d think. I believe that acceptance and surrender are good things to practice in general, and they’re also useful mindsets to employ to the practice of learning.
Check out Tabitha Swanson's NFT on Portion!
Photo source: KALTBLUT Magazine