Art has always been a source of respite for Tina Mifsud, who freely admits that, irrespective of emotions of happiness, sadness, anger, turmoil or love, the practice has been her constant go-to source for inner balance.
In contrast, a career in the arts has not always been as clear-cut an affair. Her intimate link to the practice was evident ever since she was enrolled for art lessons at the young age of five. In fact, Tina reveals that some of her earliest memories include having a paintbrush in hand.
During her early years, her creative bursts often received stern reprimands from most of her academic tutors. “I always got shouted at,” Tina laughs in hindsight. “I would always doodle instead of pay attention in class.”
Not all educators took insult to her in-class sketching sessions, however, and Tina shares fond memories of one especially supportive tutor. “A primary schoolteacher once took the time and interest to see what I was up to,” Tina recounts. “It resulted in her contacting my parents to ensure I chase more artistic ventures.”
Despite her natural inclination, the decision to actively pursue art as a full-time profession came after long years of academic study. “I had achieved both my O and A-levels in art but, at the time, I made the decision to follow a degree in tourism studies,” Tina narrates.
“There was a time when I actively enjoyed it, but after working in the industry for two years the realisation that I was not fulfilled hit hard. I decided to take a leap of faith and pursue my artistic practice fulltime,” she explains. “I delved into this new chapter body and soul, and embarked on a one-year-long art tuition programme at a studio in Barcelona, and I haven’t looked back since.” The decision was not a light one and she admits that she took her time to settle into the prospect of creating a new life path in Barcelona.
Having visited the social metropolitan three times, she eventually decided that the city fit her requirements. “I love how similar the lifestyles in Barcelona and Malta are, especially with the beautiful beaches and the social atmosphere,” she gushes.
“Although I love my life there, I must admit that the fact that it reminds me of home makes the distance more bearable. Adding on to that, having managed to find the perfect art course and, by extension, finding a real purpose, further boosted my desire to relocate – and here I am now!”
Tina confesses that the aftermath of this decision provided a crucial contribution towards her artistic evolution. Having a dedicated time slot specifically for art practice allowed her the space to master different techniques and refine her aesthetic.
Through this, she rediscovered the importance of constantly pushing past personal boundaries and obstacles. “As an artist, I believe it is so important to experiment with new styles, mediums, materials…” she says. “It's imperative not to limit yourself, creatively or otherwise, as you will always find new and different ways to enhance your work. It's something I love doing actually!”
Despite having settled into a new way of life and enjoying a seemingly linear trajectory into the future, Tina is fully aware that stylistic stability in art is very rarely part of a good creative formula. “Right now, it is all about exploring,” she states with cool confidence. Her current arrangement allows her that and more. “Since I am technically my own boss, I have the freedom to select which hours to dedicate to my practice,” Tina explains.
“I have a 24/7 studio, which is paradise for me because it allows me to hop over anytime I get the urge to paint, experiment or create,” she says. This doesn’t mean she relies solely on inspiration to fuel her artistic process. On the contrary, she thrives on having structured days.
“I make sure I work at least six hours a day – be it by watching YouTube tutorials, writing work statements or just sketching,” she explains. Networking is another critical part of an artist’s work week, as Tina herself can attest.
“Whenever I hear of any interesting exhibitions, I make sure to make an appearance,” she says. “Apart from curating a contact portfolio, it’s also nice to support other artists and allow yourself to be inspired by their work.” Inspiration, be it through life’s work or others’ art, is a cycle that affects any artist’s perceptions and ideas. She stresses the fact that now, in the early stages of her art career, she is in a transition phase.
“My style is constantly changing,” Tina says. “My mum always tells me how art is one of the few things in life that get better with age,” she elaborates, adding that this backing helps to keep a peaceful mind. Ultimately, it’s all a matter of commitment: “the more you practise, the better you get at it.” The way in which Tina observes the world and processes its concealed information reveals an innate inquisitiveness and an inner maturity that goes beyond her 25 years.
Her thoughts manifest themselves through her brushstrokes infused with colour and life and, while words may sometimes evade her, the art she produces generates a secondary communication channel that is a direct transmission straight from her soul. Nonetheless, communicating emotion through painting is neither a straightforward nor linear procedure.
Tina places huge emphasis on the early stages of an artistic work, even though it is common practice for this phase to be the least prioritised. “Thought processes and idea conception are extremely crucial in order for the visuals to unravel,” she asserts.
Tina transferred these convictions to her most recent debut of works. On a regular day, a sketchbook can always be found within her immediate possession. While she admits that serious work occurs mainly within the parameters of her studio, having a sketchbook at hand allows the thought process to be carried out anywhere and everywhere – a freeing option which enhances creativity.
This is an excerpt of an interview that initially appeared in the October edition of the Commercial Courier.