Tanya Marie Williams-Rhule is the Principal Designer and Brand Consultant at ‘Studio Tanya Marie’ — a boutique design studio located in Trinidad & Tobago, West Indies. She is also the Founding Creative Director of the Caribbean Creative lifestyle brand and online publication, Designer Island. Designer Island curates the Modern Caribbean Aesthetic by sharing the work and stories of the creatives changing the way the world views Caribbean Design.
Designer Island was first developed in 2011, as a blog spot blog with an interest in understanding the idea of the ‘Caribbean Aesthetic’. Tanya started by interviewing some of her Caribbean creative peers, documenting their views and opinions on the blog, until these conversations as well as the team eventually outgrew it's original blog space and the content was moved to it’s own website, designerisland.com in 2014.
Now this blossoming online publication continues to curate ideas of the Modern Caribbean Aesthetic, with a growing list of collaborators who are passionate about presenting the diversity of our Caribbean Identity through creativity.
(Referencing above image) It was very difficult to choose one photo for this, but easy to select the topic or rather person’s work that not only means something to me when I think about Black history, but also when I think about a person who’s work inspires me tremendously and that’s the work of Jamaican artist, Jasmine Girvan Thomas. Her work is inspired by Black artists and writers both Caribbean and international and so much Black history. She infuses all this knowledge and all these ideas with her life and her feelings and material and sculpts art and stories. Every time she creates new work I feel so blessed to be able to look at it and admire it, and even more blessed when I get to read or hear her speak. She is magic. Her works brings out so much emotion in me as a black women, and I am not fully equipped to speak about her or her work in ways that would do her justice.
What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?
Well, first off, I should state that I’m not American and ‘Black History Month’ does not apply in a Caribbean content or resonate in the same way that it does for Black Americans. As an Afro-Caribbean woman living in Trinidad, most of us are Black, Indian, Chinese or mixed with much smaller percentages being white. Trinidad specially at first scan comes across as almost 50/50- African/Indian. As Caribbean people we also often know more about American history than much of our own history due to media saturation. American media pervades our lives from Sesame Street all the way through to adulthood. So Black History Month while not celebrated or paid much attention to here is still something we notice in February.
I can say though that as a young educated Black woman in the Caribbean, I have a huge admiration for the significance for the month. I love when informative ads come on the television about Black History and that the internet has created all these wide open windows for me to view Black American culture. I admire how social media is being used to bring more awareness and self love to and for Black people and it does affects us here. Things from the US trickle down to us. Whether we like it or not the US is an example that a lot of people follow. We see the affects later on, years on; which makes what’s currently going on in the US scary and in many ways necessary…
Who Inspires You To Design Today?
I know it’s super corny to say this but whenever I’m asked who or what inspires me the most, the most honest answer is always my family and it’s not that we’re so close that we talk all the time and know each other’s business. We’re not like that kind of close. But it’s that I know without a doubt in my mind that they are always there for me. If I fell tomorrow they’d be there holding me up and they are the only people I think of when I think of who I want to make proud. My husband isn’t in this picture but he is very much a part of that crew that inspires me, that makes me want to do better daily and create better.
Where Are You Finding Inspiration Today To Design This Year?
I’m one of those people that sort of lives online and in books, bt I’m not an academic or anything like that; I’m more of a consummate observer. I have digital and physical scrapbooks and I’m forever ‘moodboarding’ in my mind. I’m that person that goes to jog around the Queen’s Park Savannah at home or goes out by myself just to ‘people-watch’ more than for the actual activity that I’m there for.
Lately a lot of my inspiration comes from books, often not design related, documentaries on Netflix and Instagram! (I’m a bit obsessed with Instagram but not for the selfies! :) My book wish-list outweighs my clothing list, and the secret image saving option on Instagram holds all my inspirations, wishes and dreams!
To Learn More About Tanya Visit:
- Designer Island Website: designerisland.com
- Designer Island Instagram: @designerisland
- Designer Island Twitter: @designerisland
- Portfolio: studiotanyamarie.com
- Instagram: @tanyamarie.w.r
- Twitter: @DesignerTanya