If your parents name you Promise, be prepared for a life of slipups, misnomers and downright hilarious butchering as people fumble to recall your name. “People mix that up all the time, calling me different names like Passion, Patience, Precious…” said Valley-based photographer/designer/artist extraordinaire Promise Tangeman. “My favorite ones are Flower, Surprise and Poison,” she laughs. Her parents called her a promise from God, and Tangeman has embraced the role, pursuing her passions during a childhood in Washington state mixed with devoutly faithful parents and days she says were spent making crafts, costumes, forts and play food. With a vividly artistic vision and a family tied to the church, it would seem Tangeman should have chosen one or the other. Instead, she’s dedicated her life to uniting the two into her work.
When you look at Tangeman’s work, you don’t think churchy thoughts. Big, bright colors, deep textures and multiple mediums are splattered across her work. Her graphic design is anything but simplistic; it’s busy with character, supremely hip and most importantly, riddled with fun. A self-proclaimed artistic fashion junky, Tangeman is someone who loves what she does, and welcomes her heaping workload with an open palette.
“I found that the general public loves fine art,” Tangeman said, referring to the punky attitude she’s injected into portrait paintings. “But most don’t know how or what to buy when it comes to owning original pieces of anything art related because it doesn’t connect with them, or make sense.
“People will pay for funky fine art that incorporates themselves, family or friends,” she said. “Because it is meaningful to them; [it’s] intimate and unique and made custom for their home or office. It’s a different way of looking at art, people and getting paid for doing what you love.”
Not that Tangeman views art as a job. It’s more of a calling – dare we say… a promise. It was that promise to herself that prompted Tangeman to leave her hometown of Seattle last year to shack up in the Valley. The change, fueled by her upcoming marriage to the worship director at Chandler’s Cornerstone Church, was a welcomed challenge.
“I didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” she recalled. “Moving away from the artsiest community to restart my life in a new town and culture, to be close to my boyfriend. I was employed by Cornerstone for a year doing graphic design until I recently took a huge risk in the middle of the worst economy to strike out on my own. I have to follow my heart; I have to follow my dream.”
And she likes to dream big. “My goals are to be consistent, steady, humble and a hard worker,” she confessed. “I have more ambition than I know what to do with right now. It has been crazy to see that in an economy so sick right now that I can be swamped up to my ears in design and photography work. It is a miracle. Every company and business right now needs and wants new print material to market with. They want to be edgy and forward moving. They definitely come to the right place.”
The confidence is exuded throughout her work and it flows out of her. Graphic design melts into photo shoots, which in turn inspires her paint-meets-photo works that marry the humanity of her photo work with vivacious swaths of color.
“My work tends to be edgy, with funky color schemes, non-traditional angles, abstract placement and high-end design esthetic,” she said. “I enjoy pushing the limits and creating an element of surprise.” She describes her design work as “energetic, fresh, modern and a little on the tomboyish side… it’s sophisticated, not too girly. No frills and twills.”
Oddly enough, her muse is found in the checkout aisle. “My inspirations come from fashion magazines. I love the colors, the fabric, layout, attitude, energy, mood… the whole nine yards.”
Even the written word has gotten to her. “I love blogs!” she gasped. “There is something so powerful about a collection of images coupled with text. Even if the images don’t relate, if they are next to each other on the same blog page, it creates a wonderland of color, inspiration and mood.”
A sort of mixed-media expert, Tangeman can’t be bogged down doing just one thing. She is at all at once busy designing album covers, T-shirts, stickers, logos, taking photos, promoting her clients and obsessively researching for her own blog, which gives the reader an almost-daily full media experience of the mind of Promise. Her portfolio and details of her work are covered in every nook and cranny, but it’s in her words that one sees how passionate she is about everything she does.
“As of now, I have no idea where I want to go with art OR how I am going to get there,” she states. “I have been a floundering artist, always producing, producing, producing, while forgetting to stop and think about what I am doing.”
It’s this vibe that keeps her innovating, making her into the kind of hybrid artist that the Valley craves.
Photos of promise by Sarah Rhoads