Artist-designer Tanner Bowman was born in 1991 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He studied design, sculpture, and performance art at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in 2015. In 2014, while still a student, Bowman worked as a gallery assistant at Threewalls, a non-profit arts organization in Chicago, and studied under artist Andrea Zittel. In 2015, he collaborated with the brand Whatnot for an exhibition at Spazio Rossana Orlandi for the 2015 Salone Del Mobile in Milan. Bowman established his eponymous studio in Chicago in 2015.
Bowman’s work blurs the lines between art, design, and craft. The aesthetic of his pieces often celebrate the processes by which they were made. According to Bowman, “I consider myself an anti-industrial designer and believe that the most valuable objects are ones in which a person can witness the labor and emotion that an artist put into them.” He goes on: “My work is all about giving a contemporary spin to traditional crafting techniques and materials. While making, I try to approach materials from a childlike state of curiosity and playfulness. In fact, I have literally been returning to crafting techniques I learned as a kid. I aim to create beautifully crafty objects from a critical perspective, while maintaining the joy of making that drew me to design and art in the first place.”
Standout projects to date include the handmade Hot Mess vessel, lighting, and furniture series (2015); composed of layers of colored, hot glue, they were created in response to the perfection of 3D printing process and materiality. The series was made in collaboration with Whatnot and SAIC and was presented in group exhibitions at Spazio Rossana Orlandi (Milan, May 2015), Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Are You Talking To Me?, Paris, 2015), and at Super Brands London (London Design Festival, 2015). In 2016, Bowman was notably included in the “Newcity Design 50: Who Shapes Chicago” list, spotlighting the city’s top designers.