August 31, 2016

We talk to California based graphic designer Tyler Spangler about the perks of being freelance and finding inspiration in your surroundings…

UO: How did you get back into creating art after your degree in Psychology?

I was constantly making band flyers and album covers while doing my degree. It’s not that I wasn’t interested in what I was studying because I am fascinated by Psychology. I just needed some sort of creative outlet in addition to studying. For me, making collages and illustrating over existing images was the most exciting thing I could do.

I actually opened a punk warehouse for a couple weeks fresh out of graduation. I wanted to explore alternative options and see what I was into. I loved being able to create art for the inside of the space and have my favorite bands play all in one spot. I found that it’s really hard to make a living doing that so I decided to focus my energy solely on making art. I was dedicated to making 5-10 new pieces every day in an attempt to explore and expand my style. I later went to art school but got frustrated with its cost and limitations, which resulted in me dropping out after a year. I have since been freelancing for the past four years.

UO: Where do you find inspiration for you work?

I live one block from the beach in San Clemente so I surf almost every day. I think surfing is the biggest non-art related inspiration for my work. The vibrant, chaotic, and peaceful nature of surfing is a really strong foundation in every thing I make. I also love to cook, listen to music, and play Dota!

UO: You have quite a following on social media; how has the internet impacted your career?

To be honest, I don’t think I would have a career in art if it weren’t for social media. I get almost all of my jobs from people finding me on Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc. In the beginning I was just sending my work out to hundreds of companies but I realised most of it would just get hidden in spam folders or glossed over without any real consideration. It’s always nice to have someone stumble upon your work rather then forcing it down their throat; it makes them feel like they found a treasure or something.

UO: What is your creative process like?

Surf, eat, listen to Electric Wizard, browse images, then start tearing apart and colouring vintage black and white photos.

UO: Your work is very colourful and vivid; does the outcome ever reflect your mood?

I have always been curious about the relationship between what I’m listening to, where I’m living, and what I’ve been experiencing and how that reflects my work/mood. I am a very easy going and introverted person but I like chaotic music and art. I think this juxtaposition is a nice recipe for interesting work?

UO: Describe your art in three words.

Candy, anxiety, harmony.

UO: What is your go-to playlist when you are working?

I listen to Fidlar, Scout Niblett, The Spits, Ty Segall, Young Marble Giants, Hole, and bands like that but it is hard for me to focus and get into a meditative state when listening to that. So when I am designing I listen to mainly drone and doom. My favorites are: Electric Wizard, Bethlehem, Cough, and Windhand.

UO: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to go into graphic design?

If you can afford to, take a year off of everything and dive head first into design history, image explorations, and typography explorations. Create a huge body of work and see what you think. Are you fascinated or bored with most of the graphic design that you see? Would you love to see your work on billboards, clothing, album covers, or commercials?

Most people have strong opinions on what they think graphic design should be, especially in art school. Take everything you hear and read with a grain of salt and form your opinions based on what you experience through first hand trial and error. The industry is constantly changing so don’t be afraid to make work that doesn’t look like anything currently happening.

UO: What has been a highlight of your career in the last year?

I am actually working on my first retail store installation in San Francisco at a new store called Pia. I will have image wraps in the front window and art all throughout the store. I am super stoked about this because I have never collaborated on an installation before.

UO: What is the best thing about being freelance?

I love being able to surf whenever I want, using my energy towards something I am creating for myself instead of someone else’s vision, and having complete control of everything that I am doing.