Art & Photography

Go with the Flow

Yigit Tuna talks to digital artist Tyler Spangler about his Instagram-age illustrations

Tyler Spangler is a digital artist who plays with colorful illustrations, merges them into animation, photography and mantras of his own imagination. He defines himself as an obsessive person who loves to research, retreat, create, and analyse everything. When you have a look at his Instagram feed for just a minute, you’ll see instantly what he means.

I consider each of your illustration or gif as a motto and I’m curious about which one comes first: ideas with words or design with visuals?

They both happen at different times. Sometimes the idea first and sometimes the visuals first. If I have a really good quote in my head I will know how it should look visually to create the most impact.

Is it possible for you to separate your work from your life?

No. My work is like a visual journal that I share with the world. The fact that is it so personal means it has become popular. People love vulnerability. 

When did you know what you wanted to do?  

I was sitting in my commercial art class in high school and a representative from an art school came and did a presentation. I never realised that someone designs every single product you see in the world. I understood it but I never really thought about it. At that point I realised I could make stuff way cooler than what existed in the world.

What do you expect of yourself as an artist?

To be honest and continue creating work that I enjoy.

All of your work makes the observer feel alive, I guess that’s because of your use of bright colours, lots of tones and how you mix them with old-fashioned photography. What do you think is the most important component of your work?

It’s all been a progression. I have always used super bright colours. In the beginning I was just creating incoherent collages with bright colours that looked pretty but didn’t really have much meaning behind them. Over time I have learned to refine my art while maintaining the energy. I think the most important component is just the energy and emotion.

Do you believe the power of an ongoing stream of consciousness or do you have precise patterns to follow when creating something new?

I have a colour palette that I used, but I completely adhere to just opening a blank page and to start moving stuff around to see what happens. I’d say 80% of my work is improvisation.

Dropping out of art school may be one of your biggest decisions. Did this decision affect your life or career?

Definitely. Dropping out has allowed me to pursue what I want to do as opposed to working for someone else and pursuing what they want to do. Dropping out also forced me to experiment a lot more with my art and how I want my career to progress. I feel if I finished art school and got a safe job at an agency, my art would stagnate, and I wouldn’t have the same motivation to stay fresh.

What is the essence or art, or being artist? 

I think it mostly boils down to honesty. If you are honest with yourself and portray that in your work it will come across as authentic. There is nothing worse than a watered-down version of someone else’s honesty.

How does social media impact your working habits and creativity?

I love social media. It forces me to stay productive and vulnerable. I love the instant feedback.

As your art has become increasingly renown, do you ever feel being under certain amount of pressure to perform? 

Yes. As my follower count rises I sometimes have the urge to create pieces that are more popular but I am always hesitant to fall into that trap. My typography is by far my most popular, but I still love making collages, patterns, and illustrations. I don’t want to pigeonhole myself into one thing.

Which one is more useful for you: self-confidence or self-doubt? 

They have to work together or you will fail. If you are all confidence you won’t learn or grow because you think you know everything already. If you are all self-doubt you will be too scared to experiment and won’t grow either.

What’s next?

Continuing to learn and experiment with new things.