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Anita Tango on Art, Poetry, and Painting through the Lens of Anxiety

By Celina Tran

Anita Tango is an Australian painter, sculptor, and poet. Often a combination of both art and writing, her work explores the mind of the artist, as well as feminism, sexuality, love, and heartbreak.

When calling from the other side of the world, Anita Tango is sitting in her car, wearing what looks like an oversized T-shirt and her dark hair up in a bun. In the back, the sun is an orange yolk, low in the sky.

“I’m in the car near the road,” she says, letting out a small laugh. “It’s the only place that gets reception on our property. I live in a very rural place, it’s near a lake, so there’s no kind of reception or anything.”

Tango grew up in the small town of Exmouth, Western Australia. At the age of 17, she moved to Perth to study animal science and health, intending to become a veterinarian.

“My mental health kind of copped it from the workload, and I ended up dropping out of uni and working full-time at Bunnings. Then the rent went up where I was living and I couldn’t afford it, which is why I needed to find a new way of earning money alongside my job,” she explains.

She began to paint, selling her paintings on Facebook marketplace. What started as a small side hustle has since turned into a full-time artist job. Tango now paints, sculpts, and writes poetry to go along with her paintings.

“Painting is still my main thing, but my brain refused to stick with one thing and decided to go off on a tangent, so now I also make random bits and bobs of clay,” she says. “My paintings normally have some meaning, but the clay figures are just cute, little things.”

“Oh, I almost forgot about the poetry! I’m such a visual person and it’s not exactly a visual thing like paintings, but yeah, I release a poem that goes along with each original painting because I love writing. I feel it helps the painting better when someone has that auditory element along with the visual.”

Turning emotions into art, creating through the lens of anxiety, and the painting process

For as long as she can remember, Tango has been creative, explaining that the people around her have always encouraged her creativity.

“My pop and grandma were both artists, not as their job, but just hobbyists, so I was always around coloured pencils and could be found drawings all over the kitchen table,” she says, her face lighting up at the memories.

Love, Always painting and poem by Anita Tango

“I always kept a journal as well. It was a really good way to help me like express and articulate my feelings, and just kind of wrap my own head around what I was feeling going through at the time, struggling with various mental illnesses,” she adds. “Eventually, journaling led to poetry. I wrote my very first poem for my pop’s funeral. I owed it to him because he was the one that introduced me to creativity.”

After this first poem, Tango started using poetry to express different feelings she was struggling to explain verbally to people, saying it was easier to write a poem rather than articulate her emotions.

Both art and poetry have become important parts of the artist’s life for many reasons, but especially their ability to aid in the expression of her individualism.

“Everything else in life has a definite answer, there are rules and regulations, societal standards and expectations. Where everything else is kind of black and white, creativity is every colour on the spectrum. It’s a realm in which you can let your individualism shine through, and you can show who you really are,” she says, tucking a rogue strand of hair behind her ear.

When asked about what themes she likes to explore in her art, she pauses for a moment.

“Sexuality, love, heartbreak, feminism,” she lists. “Most of my audience and viewers are young adults, and those are themes that are really prominent in their lives at the moment.”

She explains that she tries to tap into her own experiences and portray them through her eclectic scrapbook-style art. Tango does this by painting different objects, memories, text messages and notes.

“My paintings are super chaotic,” she says. “There are so many things going on because they’re painted through the lens of anxiety. It’s almost my experience in the world as someone with very high anxiety, which is why it’s jumbled, messy and noisy.”

In addition to her own life experiences, Tango is also heavily inspired by nature and other


“Just everyday life objects, oddities - small mundane things you don’t usually think twice about, and often just discard. Like a teabag that’s been dipped and thrown away,” she says. “I think they’re kind of beautiful and people should more attention to them.”

From the first initial inspiration, whether it’s a used teabag or an emotion, she chooses a theme. The artist then starts gathering all the objects and words she associates with said theme, before placing them on a canvas.

“The one I did most recently is themed ‘Young Love,’ so I went through my journals from High School and found more inspiration there. I also thought of flowers and scrappy cheap things that only broke uni students pay attention to, and then brought it all together before arranging it on the canvas,” she says.

As she paints, Tango explains she might make changes, move things around, and add more details. Sometimes, she also asks her followers on social media about what said emotion feels like to her.

“It’s nice to see other people’s experiences and find a common ground to not just make it my story, but a little bit of everyone’s.”

The ups and downs of social media, a creative community, and finding your own voice

As an artist, Tango’s day-to-day work involves sharing her art on social media. Evident from her TikTok and Instagram, where she has many millions of likes and over 383,000 followers combined, her art touches and connects with many people.

“When I get good feedback, it makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing, I’m actually helping people out,” she says. “I forget that art can heal people, so getting good feedback is really validating.”

Despite most of her comments and engagement being positive, she does say that the trolls and negativity can get to her. TikTok, especially, can be quite brutal sometimes.

“It does stick with me. If I post a TikTok or reel before bed, I won’t sleep that night. I anxiously toss and turn, worried it’ll be interpreted wrong, or that people are going to hate it and think I’m a horrible person. I’m not really good at regulating hard feelings,” she admits.

Nonetheless, Tango says the positivity outweighs the negativity, and that she wouldn’t continue her work if it didn’t.

One of the hardest things about sharing her work on TikTok is that her mind sometimes drifts to what her viewers might like or what’s going to sell, rather than always painting what she likes.

“It’s hard to enjoy the creative process without thinking about how I’m going to monetize it or put food on the table. I can’t just paint now because I like painting. Monetisation kind of takes a lot of the sparkle away from creating, which is hard,” Tango says.

“On a more positive note, creating has allowed me to see how art can move people, and how it connects people. Whenever I do commissions, I love sending updates throughout the process to see if they have any feedback. Their little messages always bring me so much joy, and it makes me so happy to know that they truly love something I’m creating.”

Tango adds that both her TikTok community and the community of artists she has joined always light up her day when she needs it.

“You know when you’re having a shit day and accidentally dip your paintbrushes into your

teacup instead of the paint water? Being an artist means that even though I’m alone, I know there’s a community of people also sitting in their home studios with their smelly paint air, listening to music. I’m not really ever alone,” she smiles.

The artist encourages people to join the community, emphasizing that new artists should figure out their voice and style and turn it into painting.

“Don’t try to emulate or follow someone else’s style or journey,” she advises. “You have your own voice and you can turn that into anything you like.”


Social Media & Website

Instagram: @anitatangoart


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