Entrepreneur Spotlight: Tanqueray Harper

"I see art as the manifestation of the human experience and creative expression as a tool to communicate how we perceive, internalize, and engage with the world around us on our own terms."

The life of an artist embarking on the entrepreneurial journey can be treacherous. The market frequently communicates that artists are discovered - and that an artist who lives at the studio working on creative projects might (eventually) be uncovered by an interested investor, buyer, or curator. However, this popular notion can’t be further from the truth. More often than not, that rare encounter with an interested customer doesn’t happen. Therefore artists are encouraged instead to view each creative piece of art as their product, doing the entrepreneurial work of marketing, branding, budgeting, and ultimately rewriting this inaccurate narrative.

Tanqueray Harper is the owner and founder of True Capture Studios. Tanqueray’s artistic journey is unique in that she hasn’t focused on one singular medium of art throughout her career. Coming into college as a performing artist in theater and flow art (this concept still undergirds much of her work), Tanqueray took a liking to filmmaking. However, as a result of the harsh competition and stress associated with the film industry, she stepped away to focus more on performance art opportunities. After graduating college in 2014, she picked up a part-time job working for a photography company documenting newborns 24-36 hours old and continued pursuing opportunities for her performance art. Tanqueray referred to herself as "a newborn photographer by day and a traveling circus performer by night.” The exposure offered through this employment opportunity resulted in Tanqueray reflecting on the concept of ‘Legacy Art’ - which resembles a form of interdisciplinary mediums incorporating video and photo to capture community engagement, collaboration, and harmony; this can also be called documentarian art.

Fast forward to 2019 - Tanqueray accepted a management job with the hopes of saving money to invest in building her business. Despite her increased workplace responsibilities, she still went on tour a few weeks out of the year for performance opportunities. In March 2020, Tanqueray was a few days away from beginning a long performance tour when venues suddenly began canceling. Suddenly the entire tour was abruptly canceled as a direct result of increasing concern for the pandemic. A month later, Tanqueray’s full-time job at the hospital went on furlough and she decided to “take full advantage of the break and finally start a business.” It just so happened the first free virtual LAUNCH CHA cohort was scheduled for that summer. In response to this uncanny chain of events, Tanqueray moved to a permanent part-time position to devote more time to her business, True Capture Studios, and prepare for the upcoming LAUNCH CHA cohort.

At this point, Tanqueray had given shape to her vision but had not leaped into full-fledged business ownership yet. In the LAUNCH CHA cohort, she remembers walking away with a thorough overview of the numerous concepts pivotal to owning a business, including an influential network of local entrepreneurs. Upon graduation, however, Tanqueray quickly discovered learning these concepts in the LAUNCH CHA cohort is one thing - experiencing their practical application is an entirely different undertaking. This revelation ushered in the prototyping of various iterations of her business model. In addition to these takeaways from the LAUNCH CHA program, Tanqueray's exposure during two artistic residencies: AAW (Artists At Work) - part of a residency working with Dalton Creative Arts Guild addressing matters of climate change, and the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts affiliate based on a collaboration with UTC resulted in True Capture Studios gaining traction with prospective clients and ultimately developing a structure around the services Tanqueray offers through her business. With the long-term desire to incorporate an educational and mentorship offering into her business geared toward kids on the spectrum, these residencies have helped Tanqueray conceptualize future goals for True Capture Studios. 

Following an exciting vending experience during the Rock The Riverfront event last month, Tanqueray has released an exclusive program for individuals, families, or businesses who have signed up to her mailing list. Subscribers will receive updates for exclusive opportunities to book a “Legacy Art” video or photo session with True Capture Studios. If you are interested in joining this opportunity, email a smiley face (yes, literally a smiley emoji) to [email protected] to be added to the mailing list to receive exclusive package offers! 

Artists are a pivotal aspect of a community - small business ownership dually reflects the health of a local economy; Tanqueray's blending of the two in the creation of True Capture Studios is as inspiring as it is essential for the Chattanooga community. Follow the journey of this business at the following social media handles!