Art Director Tasha James on the Power of Empathy
Tasha James, art director and photographer, on the power of patience, her love of jewelry that sparks conversation, and the need for empathy to make the world better.
Follow all of Tasha's adventures on Instagram.
What was your first piece of jewelry?
Tiny gold studs in my ears - I had my lobes pierced when I was a baby.
What's your most treasured piece of jewelry?
I have a gold bar necklace that has the word 'If’ engraved on it. It’s my favorite poem by Rudyard Kipling, and it's one that I revisit often because it’s full of life lessons, wisdom and inspiration. My necklace is a reminder that life is always going to be hard at times, and you can never give up.
What drives you?
I’m a super ambitious person, so I think my drive comes from knowing that anything is attainable. I always feel like I can do whatever I set my attention to —nothing is impossible.
What are your favorite Maison Miru pieces, and why?
I really love this charm necklace. Each charm represents me in some way, and I love when my jewelry feels personal. I love pieces that will catch someone’s eye - and maybe spark a conversation.
Elizabeth Gilbert has said that everything interesting is actually 90% boring (there's a lot of hard, unglamorous work that goes into anything worth doing). How do you Get Things Done?
Having patience helps a lot. Elizabeth’s statement is so true—everything you’ve ever seen that you think is amazing took hours and maybe weeks or years of planning, learning, and growth. When you come to a certain point, like in photography for example, you want to do more than just take a pretty picture. You want to tell a story, or evoke a feeling, and you can’t do that without some kind of exploration—and that takes time. I’m willing to be patient and persistent because I know the level of work I want to do requires it.
How do you stay whole?
I’m big on taking breaks and resting. If I’m feeling burned out, I really make it a point to not keep pushing myself, and I’ll ease up on work or whatever it is, so that I can recharge. I love aromatherapy, journaling, long showers, walks outdoors, and cooking to relieve stress. I’m always down for a good Netflix binge, too.
What's at the top of your wishlist?
I currently have extreme house fever—the top of my list would be a warehouse/loft-style condo (in Berlin or NYC) with concrete floors and gigantic windows that I can keep all my plants in front of. Next on that list would probably be a trip to somewhere remote, where I can enjoy lots of sunshine, and take photos uninterrupted.
What are three of your hidden gems (or hidden talents)?
I am a really good cook. I am a total plant-mom (I have a mini jungle in my apartment, and I grow veggies in the Spring and Summer). Also, I love painting and drawing.
Imagine you could write a postcard to your former self: what do you wish you could tell your younger self?
Tasha, I won’t spoil the surprise for you, but just keep going, and don’t be afraid to dream even bigger than you already do.
What's one thing, big or small, that we can do today to make the world a better place?
A really small thing that would make the world a better place (and I realize this is really cliché) is more empathy. We are all guilty of ignoring things or not having a great amount of concern for things that don’t directly affect us, and I think that apathy on a mass scale has made the world a crueler place.
I think the lack of caring, and not being able to put ourselves in others’ shoes, contributes to many of society’s larger problems like homelessness, food insecurity, environmental destruction, modern slavery, and so on. Atrocities in many communities around the world are committed precisely because they know that the larger public will never bother to find out, and if they do, they won’t care enough to help, and that has to change.