How Do You Do 'I Do'? Artist Tara Calahan King

tara calahan king

We fell in love with local Cincinnati artist Tara Calahan King’s artwork several years ago and have looked forward to each new project. Her depth of knowledge and range of expertise is broad. From children’s books illustrations to 3-D design and large murals to wedding stationery illustrations – it seems Tara’s ability to manifest her vision is boundless.

We asked her to create a character named Penny Pragmatic for Poeme’s budding etiquette series. We were beyond delighted with how Penny took shape!

She recently created Cincinnati landmark illustrations for boxed stationery sets we carry in the shop which included a flying pig, the iconic Museum Terminal and Tyler Davis Fountain. 

Tara also recently created an illustration of one of our couples – Ellie + Jay – which we incorporated into their save the dates, thank you cards, and escort cards. We think they turned out amazing! Check out Ellie + Jay’s beautiful wedding here.

Kortnee Kate Photography – Illustration by Tara Calahan King

How do you approach custom wedding artwork?

It is exciting to learn about each couple. From looking at various pictures of them, I try to get a feel for their individual personalities, and the chemistry they share together as a couple. I study their smiles, and the joyful gaze in their eyes. I try to capture their endearment for one another, and portray their uniqueness, and interests through adding the special details such as props, clothing style, poses, and gestures.

The illustrations can be simple, and sleek, or whimsical, and playful in design. Each couple is different, and I keep their individual interests, and ideas close to heart. I strive to perfect the specific appeal of the artwork that they are looking to create for their special day.

What is your favorite medium?

I illustrate and create artwork for many different projects. Each project is unique, and I am a versatile artist with a background in children’s books, greeting cards, stationery, murals, interactive public sculptures, editorial, textile and product design. I love working on various techniques and mediums, and creating the right feel for the piece. I have always enjoyed using color pencil for illustrating my children’s books, like in Enemy Pie and Odd Velvet, published by Chronicle Books. I used color pencil for the artwork for Jay and Ellie’s wedding stationery as well.

I absolutely love the fluidity of painting, from oils on wood, to latex paints that I use for murals in hospitals, libraries, businesses and homes. Then there is also the beauty I find of sketching with a pencil, in black and white.

In this past year, I have experimented and I am quite fascinated with the capabilities, and the technology behind some of my digital work on the iPad in a program called, Procreate. This is how I created the artwork for the Cincinnati landmarks, and the caricature illustrations of Penny Pragmatic for Poeme. However, if I absolutely had to choose, I would have to say my favorite medium is paint. The colors are so rich, and I love the feel of the brush in my hand, and the action of painting. The opportunity for being creative in any form is not only a part of my profession, but a lifestyle, a true passion.

Notes + notepads with illustrations by Tara Calahan King

What projects are you currently working on?

I am currently developing characters of animals and people. I am also painting large public sculptures, and illustrating floral designs and other whimsical illustrations.

Tell us about some of your other endeavors.

I also provide workshops for children of all ages in schools and libraries. I provide an interactive character development program, discuss various techniques and mediums and work together on a composition, as a storybook visual narrative.

If you would like to learn more about Tara’s work visit her website or follow her on Facebook!

Nicolette Meade