Spotlight | Alex Stalling, Tinker
how to become a full-time artist
Alex stalling started Tinker to facilitate your creative side.
She teaches a wide range of classes for both children and adults, and allows people to explore, experiment and finesse their artistic skills — even if you think you don’t have any! Tinker also hosts other artists and creatives, giving them a space to share their skills too.
We sat down with Alex to hear how Tinker came to be, what she does on the weekend, and where she goes to get inspired.
Name: Alex Stalling
Occupation: artist, creative enthusiast, owner of Tinker
Known For: her ever-changing hair colour, and ability to teach anyone to paint
Born: Mount Isa
Local since: 2001
First things first: why Toowoomba?
I grew up in outback Mt Isa, from two prominent families of long standing Isa’ians. My family moved to Toowoomba when I was in high school and it was the perfect tap into a new direction. I didn’t understand the gravity of it at the time.
What’s the story behind Tinker?
I opened Tinker in July 2018. We recently celebrated our first birthday, which was both exciting and shocking — how has it been a year?
Tinker is a creative workshop space . I am the lead artist, which means I run the majority of the workshops. I currently host classes for kids — kinder to teens, both term and holidays — and I also host regular and pop-up classes for adults. I try to offer as wide of a program as possible including things like drawing, acrylic painting, watercolour, polymer clay, fabric painting, clutch making, printmaking, mixed media and a whole lot more.
Outside of that Tinker invites other creatives with their own skills to come in and host workshops because one thing I love about our region is how many skilled artisans there are. We have a whole network of valuable creative skills and trades at our fingertips.
Plus, because that isn’t enough Tinker is also for hire, so you can find something on every single week for you to learn a new skill.
Tinker came about as I myself was in the predicament of lacking a home for my creative workshops. I wanted to do a few pop ups here and there and the spaces that I could find were not 100% geared towards creative classes and so there was always the fear of leaving a bit of glitter behind. For me when our cute little Tinker building came up it was a no brainer and I jumped at it with my napkin written business plan and I was quickly surprised that others were also looking for dedicated creative workshop space.
My classes are all about discovering one's personal style, offering a different type of art class where I give you the tips, tricks and skills to create your own original artwork. No two pieces ever come out the same. I am passionate about being accessible for the beginner and beyond and get a lot of stick figure artists coming in for a laugh and walking out with a completed piece. I like to gently challenge people to try something outside of their comfort zone, which is both confronting and rewarding for kids and adults.
What have you learned about running a business in Toowoomba? What are the unique opportunities, benefits and challenges?
Toowoomba has a beautiful supportive and collaborative community. My ‘competition’ (for want of a better word) all share the love and help each other out. People in the region are also really receptive and supportive and it has made the ‘challenges’ of being your own boss nil. Tinker is surrounded by a community of people our own little but growing Tinker family.
What does an average day look like for you?
Most of the days are spent being mum to my kids, school drop off craziness, entertaining the wee one during the day and picking up the big one again in the afternoon. Where I can I will grab some time in the middle to do some business stuff, be it experimenting with new techniques, making products for the Tinker shop or answering emails, social media etc.
The afternoons is where things get exciting for me. I am heading to the space to teach, having business meetings or kicking back in my home studio to paint a little. I am such a night owl.
What does your ideal Toowoomba weekend look like?
It is such a mix, some days are filled with me teaching workshops, other times it is family time where we hit a local park or the shopping centre, and catch up with friends. We try to get to at least two markets a month; I love a good market.
Honestly we try to keep as low key as we can right now — little kids are hard work. But we’re definitely beginning to be more adventurous now as they are growing out of that toddler stage.
Only a Toowoomba local would know…
I don’t know if I miss or am glad there is no Pig House.
FAVOURITE WEEKEND SPOT TO:
PERK UP: Start- Up Culture at Tinker. Can I say one of our own events? But seriously I leave this networking night every time feeling energised to grow my business and inspired by those doing the hustle from the local area.
RELAX: Hair days with Gaby at The Mixx.
EAT: The chicken burgers at the local Glenvale convenience store, plus they have a drive-through. Seriously the tired mumma loves a discovery like this.
INDULGE: The Baker’s Duck - always
SHOP: I am so keen for the Artisan Markets at Charred to start up. It is 100% my jam.
CATCH UP: Bar Wunder
BE INSPIRED: Dunmore Gallery. I love these micro galleries — people really play with the experimental and you can find some great gems.
See the full range of classes at Tinker here.