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Bring Magic Into Your Rooms With Serial Muralist Tara Soriano, Who Incorporates Watercolor, Sculpture And Gemology Into Her Works

You might recognize some of her works at your favorite Starbucks Reserve


In a time of fast and commercial art, where walls can instantly be turned into highlight pieces with expensive and imported wallpapers, there are still those who value traditional murals, painstakingly hand-painted and produced. And in this niche segment, we found an upbeat artist who is channeling her specialty in watercolors and background in sculpture and gemology to turn boring walls into works of art.  


“Art makes me happy and I want to share that joy,” says Tara Soriano, a Manila-based artist who specializes in wall murals, sculpture, and other kinds of painting. Having been exposed to the vibrant, local arts scene in Los Angeles, where she grew up, Tara naturally became inclined to follow the path of colors and textures.  


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“When I graduated in 2008, the US had just been hit by a major financial recession. It was difficult to attain a job, but also, the pull of home where I had a multitude of cousins was too alluring to pass up,” shares Tara. “When I moved back to Manila, I had some relatives who were involved in the arts scene here, and it’s been through their generosity that I’ve gotten to participate in some exhibits and fairs, where I also met some of my current clients.”


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The art of painting walls

When I hear the world “murals” the very first thing that comes to mind is the work of Michelangelo for the Sistine Chapel ceiling. It’s a gorgeous piece of art and history, that continues to define the limits and standards of what makes art, art. Although the style and demand for murals has changed in the recent years, murals still add a certain energy and personality to any room or space. Just ask anyone who has been to the Sistine Chapel.  


In the modern world, murals are still very much alive in many coffee shops and cafés. And this is also true for Tara, whose works we can see in many Starbucks Reserves and branches across the metro.


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“I was recommended to the Starbucks Asia Pacific Group for a position as one of their resident artists for their Starbucks Reserve branches. Before each project, we are briefed by the Hong Kong designers on the creative direction that we interpret into an original piece,” says Tara.


One of such creative interpretations is this beautiful piece at the Starbucks Reserve in Ayala Malls Manila Bay. From afar, your interest will be piqued by the depth and allure of what looks like a seemingly simple artwork. When you get up close, that’s when you understand that its appeal comes from the beautiful textures and patterns in every curve and every line, recreating a picturesque landscape of a coffee farm.


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For commissions like this, Tara draws inspiration from many things—from the rules designated by the commission, the location of the piece, her own personal style, and her extensive experience in many different forms of art. For Starbucks, Tara admits there’s a lot of caffeine involved—and dance breaks.  


“Who doesn’t love coffee? It’s one of my main sources of fuel when I work, along with good music and the occasional dance break. I am inspired by the idea of a local hangout, which makes this particular Starbucks unique from the others,” says Tara.  


When it comes to painting, there’s also a certain vibe that usually emanates from Tara’s works. When given the liberty, she would flex her watercolor skills and create pieces that feel alive and quirky at the same time. She says, “My work is characterized by organic structures with brass, or watercolor renders of plants with occasional animals.”


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Beyond just painting

Although Tara is more focused on painting at the moment, she draws on her experiences with sculpture and gemology to bring some of her murals to life. One of her recent works was a tropical mural she worked on in January, where she infused cement to make the mural feel more tangible and alive.



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Talking about her process on Instagram, Tara says she would hammer away at the cement to shape the banana leaves, making small batches of cement at a time to keep the mixture stable and prevent it from cracking. Just the bananas took 3 days to finish.


“My legs got worked from [going up and down the] ladder and my arms from everything else. I love my job. It’s rewarding and always an adventure,” she says.  


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Apart from walls, Tara also breathes life into furniture like this table from Kassa by Karen Santos. For items like this, she gets to flex her brushes and her flair for natural elements.


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She also has more personal items and sculptures, like this breathtaking metal sculpture of Jesus Christ on the cross. Talking about this piece, Tara shows that her works are not just works made for commission’s sake, but reflections of her own mindset, talent, and purpose in this world.


“When I make crucifixes, I always think about how meta it is that God made me to make little symbols of Him on occasion. Then one day I came across this Bible quote and laughed: (Genesis 1:26-27) Since God has created us and made us to reflect Him,” writes Tara on Instagram.


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Whether its wall murals, home interiors and exteriors, sculptures, or furniture, there’s something that Tara can bring and add to your space. Check out more of her works on Instagram at @tarasoriano


Enjoy a sampling of her magical works in the gallery below:


Photographs from Tara Soriano and @tarasoriano on Instagram