Tangled Art: An Interview With Artist Tabitha L. Barnett

Tabitha L. Barnett is the artist and imagination behind the wonderful Tabby’s Tangled Art adult coloring books. This week’s guest blogger, Candace Gadel Middleton, sat down with Tabitha to talk about her artwork and how she came to be part of the adult coloring phenomenon.

All of Tabitha’s artwork featured here was colored by Candace—enjoy!

CGM: What is your name, age, and how many children do you have?

TLB: My name is Tabitha Barnett, 37 years old, and the mother of 3 boys.

CGM: Where are you from?

TLB: I was born and raised in Perryville, Kentucky, and am now living in Hazard, Kentucky.

CGM: What type of training did you receive for your gift of art?

TLB: I took 2 years of art in High School. I have always drawn and doodled, since I was a child. After high school, I attended Eastern Kentucky University. There, I took a drawing class and a second design class, although my major was in Sociology.

I quit college when my oldest son was born, to work two jobs. A few years later, I attended Spencerian College for Computer Graphic Design. I didn’t finish that either, but I did learn a LOT of useful computer programs, and had a couple of good art classes while I was there. Of course, at the time, I had no clue just how useful those programs would be to me later in life.

CGM: What did you envision doing with your art education?

TLB: Honestly, I never in a million years would have imagined that I would be feeding my family by selling my artwork.

CGM: Did your vision turn into a different outlet than what you had planned?

TLB: After I left school at Spencerian, life got in the way. I was working two full time jobs again (one waiting tables and one at a grocery store) and just doing my best to get by. I completely stopped doing anything artistic. A few years ago, I started making jewelry (beaded), but other than that, for nearly ten years, I didn’t draw, paint or even craft.

By last March, I was out of work for seven months, staying home with my boys while the husband was working. I was BORED! I found myself on Pinterest, where I first seen Zentangle. I began drawing again, and I really haven’t stopped drawing again since.

CGM: How has the adult coloring world changed your life?

TLB: We were in a very difficult financial situation before I started selling my art and making coloring books. My husband got sick and hasn’t been able to work since January 2016, so all this happened just in time; It made having the extra income a blessing to us.

Not only am I not bored anymore, I actually have some sort of structure again which I desperately needed. I have a schedule, which I have created for myself to make sure I get things done. There’s really nothing better than being your own boss!

The best part, about all of this, has been the awesome friendships I have made. The adult coloring world restored my faith in humanity. There are some really good-hearted people that I have met through the adult coloring world; I really didn’t think there were people like that still left in this world.

CGM: What is the greatest benefit that you see from doing adult coloring books?

TLB: People color for all types of reasons. Relaxation and stress relief, a sense of accomplishment, or just to be doing something artistic. Personally, I color for the fun of it, and to be creating something beautiful.

CGM: When you set out to do adult coloring books, what was the reason you chose the adult coloring market?

TLB: When I first started drawing again, I posted some of my artwork on Facebook. A friend from high school, who loves to color, suggested I make an adult coloring book. I started researching, and realized I could make that happen, so here we are.

CGM: What are your future plans for the adult coloring books?

TLB: Although I would like to have a “real” publisher, I suppose I’ll keep self publishing through Createspace. I have a LOT of ideas for more books. My book “That 70s Coloring Book” is probably my most popular. I do plan on a “That 80s, 90s, and 60s coloring books” in the future. I also have a “Candyland” type book in the works, and some black background mandala books. There will be many, many more books to come!

CGM: What do you see in your future in the way of your artwork? Do you plan on branching out in other directions?

TLB: I, actually, already have. Last year, I won a contest with GelWriter. The prize is having my design (and even more importantly, my name) on the “cover” of a new product. That product will be available sometime this month.

The folks at GelWriter must have really liked my work, because I’ve since done a few freelance jobs for them, a journal cover design, another product box design, and some crafty projects to be photographed for their upcoming website. Once these products are on the market, I hope to get more freelance work.

CGM: What is your greatest benefit from doing adult coloring books?

TLB: The greatest benefit for me is that I actually have a purpose for my artwork. I think one of the reasons I stopped drawing was because the drawings just sat in a folder. Now, I have a reason to draw every day if I want!

CGM: What is your greatest need at this present moment in your life?

TLB: I have my family, we have a roof over our heads, and food in our bellies…therefore, I have everything I need. Now, that’s not to say there aren’t things I couldn’t use right now. I do always need sales.

CGM: Tell us what adult coloring books you have currently finished and which ones you are presently working on.

TLB: Currently available—

Tangled Dreams, Tangled Dreams Travel Size, Doodle Dreams, Digi-Dreams, That 70s Coloring Book, Tangled Bliss, Majestic Mandalas Volume 1, Majestic Mandalas Volume II, Botanical Butterflies, Floral Dreams, Whimsical Christmas, Super Cute Halloween, and Tangled Hearts.

Presently working on—

Tangled and Stitched (working title) available soon, Majestic Mandalas Midnight Edition (working title), a Candyland themed book, and a “best of” book.

CGM: Where can we find your books?

TLB: (Amazon) (Sellfy store for single pages and PDF downloads.) (colorable merchandise)

CGM: Thank you, Tabby, for taking the time to let us into your life.