Tyler Spangler for featured image

“Playful and Creepy”: An Interview with Tyler Spangler

Down on the west coast there is an artist who is creating art for the internet generation. That man would be Tyler Spangler. In between surfing, which he adores, Mr. Spangler dedicates his time to producing digital collages. Reminiscent of pop art, Mr. Spangler’s creations however have an added dimension and have been redesigned for digital consumers. Mr. Spangler’s creations are iconic and definitely catch and retain the viewer’s eye. Giacomo Grechi had a chat with Mr. Spangler for The Hippo Collective about surfing, horror movies and soda. 

The Hippo Collective: Mr. Spangler, could you please take a second to introduce yourself and tell us a little about your artistic career?

Tyler Spangler: My name is Tyler Spangler and I am a designer. I create things everyday for myself and other people. I started freelancing for surf and music industries but have branched out into more areas.

Tyler Spangler 4THC: I was intrigued when I read that you ‘ran [an] illegal punk venue for 13 shows till police shut it down’. What exactly did that entail? What did you learn from that experience and would you repeat it?

TS: I leased a warehouse from craigslist to put on shows. The landlord thought it was for band practice which is what I had to tell him because I wasn’t able to get licenses and permits. I had no idea what I was doing but I somehow made it work, even if only for a short time.

I just thought Instagram was an app for food and selfies but I figured I could crop my images to a square format and use it as an art gallery.

THC: Let us move on to your art. Your prints and other productions feature extremely bright colors, psychedelic patterns and are very reminiscent of pop art. They are exciting and not only catch the viewer’s eye, but also keep it there. What do you mean to convey with your art? What is the purpose behind your work?

TS: I love to combine playful and creepy.

Tyler Spangler 6THC: How has your style evolved away from those older artistic styles (i.e. pop art, Dadaism and surrealism)? What makes your style distinct?

TS: I think being brought up in the internet generation definitely has an influence. Being able to constantly ingest images whenever I want is something those older generations weren’t able to do. I also think my hobbies like surfing, cooking, and video games influence my work as well. I liked to use those past styles as a starting point that I can branch out from and hopefully create something new and interesting.

THC: Do you have a favorite piece of yours?

I love them all equally. I don’t prefer making certain ones. I have a couple different types that I do and I just rotate and alter them. I love making all over dense collages, pop patterns, minimal body part collages, food pieces, psychedelic nature pieces, etc.

Tyler Spangler 1THC: What are your influences?

Surfing, punk, metal, horror movies, cooking, The Office, and candy.

THC: What is the creative process behind your work? What mediums do you use and how do you choose them? Do you create products with digital programs or work by hand? How do you utilize collages to re-contextualize the images that you combine and work with?

TS: I work entirely digitally using Photoshop and Illustrator. I used to make collages by hand but it’s too messy and I live in too small of a place now. I will basically start by browsing images and sometimes an image will lend itself to being destroyed with tears smears and other just need a couple color plops. It’s a gut thing for me.

Tyler Spangler 2THC: How have you used social media to publicize your work? How has Instagram allowed you to connect with fans and ultimately make a living off art?

TS: I first started with Tumblr in like 2009. I started posting at least 1 new thing everyday. I got a bit carried away and started making like 5 things a day which made my Tumblr really grow. I think that constantly creating new content is the most important part of growing a social media presence. I didn’t get into Instagram until later, like 2013. Instagram was actually where I started getting job offers. I just thought it was an app for food and selfies but I figured I could crop my images to a square format and use it as an art gallery. I didn’t know how well it would do but it kind of took off, which was cool. I still maintain daily content, uploading 2 new pieces everyday.

I liked to use those past styles as a starting point that I can branch out from and hopefully create something new and interesting.

THC: From what I have read, you are also really into surfing (and living in Southern California why not!). What role does this activity play in your life? Have you worked on any surfing themed projects or are you planning any in the future?

TS: I love surfing. I haven’t been surfing in 2 months though because I got an ear infection in both ears (stupid dirty California waters). Surfing plays a huge role in my life. Most of my time is centered around when the waves and tides will be the best. I will schedule my day around it. I got to work on some really awesome surfboard inlays with SUPERbrand. They printed the design on cloth and glassed it under the surfboard.
Tyler Spangler 5THC: Speaking of the future, do you have any upcoming projects? Are you currently showing your work in galleries? If you could, with which artists would you most like to collaborate?

TS: I was recently in a group show at the Jealous gallery in London. The show moved to the Saatchi gallery and now it’s currently at the Affordable Art Fair. I just recently released a collaboration with Tattify doing temporary tattoos and nail wraps. I also am collaborating with a cool new yoga/surf wear company on all over print legging and tops.

If I could collaborate with any artist, it would be Ozzie Wright. It would be cool to mix his paint/drawing style with my digital collage.

THC: Do you have any advice that you could provide to young individuals whom are just starting to create artistic careers? How can they use social media and other digital tools to their advantage?

TS: Make something every day and post it to your website. Don’t be afraid to share and reach out to people.

THC: If you would like, use this last question as a space to discuss any ideas, topics or issues that you have been considering.

TS: Orange is the best soda flavor!

SpanglerThe Hippo Collective would like to thank Mr. Spangler for taking the time to speak with us! As you read, Mr. Spangler is currently exhibiting at the Affordable Art Fair in London. More information is available here. Be sure to follow Mr. Spangler’s Instagram account and his visit his website.

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