'Art sooths my soul': Pinckney artist speaking Tuesday in Monroe

·4 min read
Tamara Ann of Pinckney is shown with some of her mailbox creations. She will speak March 28 at Monroe's United Way Building.
Tamara Ann of Pinckney is shown with some of her mailbox creations. She will speak March 28 at Monroe's United Way Building.

Tamara Ann has built an art business around mailboxes.

Using repurposed items and natural elements like bark, pinecones and driftwood, the Pinckney-based artist creates functional mailboxes with themes like The Lord of the Rings, mermaids and fairies. There’s even one in honor of Chelsea, Michigan. Her work graces roadsides across the country.

At 6:30 p.m. March 28, Tamara Ann will talk about her unique mailboxes and her other art creations at the United Way Building, 216 N. Monroe St. The program is offered by the Monroe Art League. Admission is free. The public is welcome.

“(A member of the league) approached me at my art booth during the Chelsea Art Fair in late July 2022 and asked if I would be interested in presenting to her group,” Tamara Ann said.

One of Tamara Ann's art mailboxes is shown.
One of Tamara Ann's art mailboxes is shown.

She is the owner and designer at HipKNOTic Design, which specializes in “down-to-earth functional art," the company website says.

“Tamara uses a range of genres to create one-of-a-kind, functional pieces of art. Join us to find out more about the artist's creative process and view her aesthetic objects that serve utilitarian purposes,” Eve Weatherholt, Monroe Art League president, said.

Tamara Ann, a native of Farmington, has lived in Pinckney for the past 27 years. In 2020, just months before the pandemic began, she opened her art business.

“HipKNOTic Design evolved in 2020 when I was laid off and struggling with severe depression. I needed something simple to look forward to, so I started coloring,” Tamara Ann said. “The pandemic was actually good timing for me.”

One of Tamara Ann's pieces is shown.
One of Tamara Ann's pieces is shown.

Coloring led her back into an activity from her childhood, macrame.

“I began macramé to have something more tangible when I was done. My mom and I learned to macramé when I was about 9 years old,” she said. “Thankfully, some YouTube videos helped me remember past techniques and learn new. As I was regaining my hope and reconnecting with my optimistic demeanor, I thought, why not see how I could beautify my mailbox? It was a project I had been thinking about since I bought my first home in Wolverine Lake.”

Soon, Tamara Ann was in the mailbox business.

“I found it really exciting to transform a mailbox canvas using materials collected while hiking locally and from vacations across the country. Soon I was selling mailboxes from coast to coast and getting custom orders. The first mailbox I made was purchased by someone in Massachusetts," she said. “I have sold about 30 full-size USPS functional mailboxes. I make mini mailboxes too, for indoor use on a desk or tabletop.”

Her elaborate mailbox creations can last for years in the weather, with just a bit of upkeep.

“I use an epoxy resin made for wood boats to coat each mailbox design. I apply at least two coats. A mailbox design will hold up for years,” Tamara Ann said. “To maintain the vibrant coloring, it is best to recoat with any spray finish each spring and to keep out of direct sunlight. My personal mailbox design does get direct sunlight, but I don't mind the more worn appearance on the highpoints of my designs, such as a mountain top. The U.S. Postal Service has the same requirements from state to state, so I use a USPS-approved mailbox for my canvas.”

In addition to the mailboxes, HipKNOTic Design also offers sculptures, flowerpots and birdhouses.

“Birdhouses are a big seller. I find most purchase these as a gift for a loved one. Sculpture is my favorite and focus,” Tamara Ann said.

She sells her pieces through her website, Amazon Handmade, Pinterest and Facebook.

“I also participate in art shows and markets, from Grand Rapids Art Prize to the Ann Arbor Art Fair,” Tamara Ann said.

Her customers are varied, but mostly women.

“All backgrounds and ages, from toddlers up, enjoy my art. Buyers range from 35 to 70, skewed female. My art is my side gig. I work full time at the University of Michigan Medical School in research communications,” Tamara Ann said.

The artist was just accepted into this year's Art Guild Emerging Artist program at Gutman Gallery in Ann Arbor. She also has a bachelor’s degree in fine arts.

“The focus of my training was my undergraduate degree at Michigan State University, where I earned a BA in fine arts with an emphasis in graphic design and sculpture and a minor in English,” she said. “Art sooths my soul, giving me an escape from the daily grind. I wish I could help offset some of my time and expenses through participant smiles.”

On the Net: hipknoticdesign.com

This article originally appeared on The Monroe News: Pinckney artist Tamara Ann speaking Tuesday in Monroe