The other day, I caught myself thinking about what it means to be human. To turn the conceptual into more concrete terms--I pondered on what it means to feel the beautiful around us, and to ground oneself in what may or may not be real. This can be in the form of dreams or nostalgia, maybe a movie or a book. Yesterday, it was a short story by Kathleen Mason that piqued my curiosity. The day before, it was Marlyin McCoo. Sometimes the mental excursion is over other people in general, narrowed down to the state of mind of someone blatantly intriguing. Today, my contemplation regards the Minimal Expressionist artist Tyler Scully. His work evokes feelings that I couldn't quite pinpoint before, for he presents a unique interpretation of the vitality of the human form.
Emotions arose from within when viewing his work. Seeing the world from Scully’s eyes was full of unspoken feelings some may witness. Not to mention, these ideas of how colors mean so much to every piece and how someone else’s perspective of humans can change someone’s own. I was staring at Scully’s work thinking I was looking at someone I knew. Maybe someone I used to know or wish I knew. Either way, it felt right to have in this lifetime that’s so momentary.
Originally from San Francisco, Tyler Scully lives in LA making swift sales. With creative ideas ringing from his voice, to his work, I had so many questions for the artist when it came to his vision.
Deconstructed Portrait, Tyler Scully
Elle: How do you find meaning in the current world?
Tyler: I am influenced by everything in the world, from music, to history, to politics, to my personal life, etc. Being biracial and living in America, I feel I’m living a different experience to many people, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Before I used to make very literal paintings of those I saw as villains to be distorted and deformed to match how I felt about them, while I now focus more on those feelings and transfer them to a more general figure to make it more universal rather than specific.
Furthermore, because I have always been interested in history, I do take a lot of my knowledge from history to apply to my art practice. I have started to explore my family history along with Hawaiian and Irish history because they have a lot of interconnections that I then place in my works. I feel these themes, while intensely personal to me, also have a universal applicability to everyone. Everything affects who I am and therefore what art I make.
While my art can be read as crushing existentialism, it can conversely be read as the interconnection and universality of everyone that we all share in these emotions. It is my take on the tiki.
Gemini, Tyler Scully
Elle: Eyes can make a piece. Tell me how someone’s eyes speak to you.
Tyler: Eyes are the window into the soul. As such, eyes make an easy way for the viewer to connect with the portraits. Eyes are so versatile in conveying emotions that a slightly looking up eye or an eye staring back at the viewer can tell a story by themselves. It is that subtle placement and intention I focus on in the eyes of my portraits.
Elle: Do certain colors feel different to you? Describe your relationship with either your favorites or simply the genre of color.
Tyler: Color is always something I’m concerned about. Might be the color theory classes coming back to haunt me, but I always think of the meaning certain colors convey, as well as the contrast of colors next to each other to draw focus within the piece.
I’ve had several people say to me in my personal life that I either love extremely dark and disturbing things or the most colorful and cute things, and I have to say that’s pretty true. That sentiment just naturally extends into the artwork I make because that is who I am. I create images I want to see.
Elle: That’s poetic. What time of the day do you usually create? Why?
Tyler: I usually paint either early in the morning around 7:00 AM-11:00 AM or late at night like 10:00 PM-3:00 AM. I don’t think it really has any meaning other than my studio space doesn’t have AC, so it is too unbearably hot to work any time between then in Los Angeles. Those times also allow me to work in isolation and just put on some music or a podcast and just focus on the work.
I do work every single day and believe that being consistent allows me to create and iterate on ideas rather than being bogged down on one painting at a time. Because of this discipline I am never worried about ‘writer's block’ because I will usually have about 5-10 pieces going at one time and within creating and refining those pieces I have time to think of different approaches that then spin off into new works.
Deconstructed Portrait, Tyler Scully
Elle: NFT’s are changing the world, has it changed yours given the power of your art?
Tyler: No, not really. I love the idea of NFTs and have made some things I am very proud of that utilize the medium like combining my music, paintings, and animation or digitally painting over my physical paintings to create unique artwork that could really only be NFTs. That said, NFTs as a whole aren’t going that way. The major platforms solely focused on trading volume and profits, rather than promoting a deeper connection with the artists and investing in their careers, meaning of the artwork, and general quality control. But with the recent crypto/NFT crash, I think we’ll see where the future leads.
Elle: Are you enjoying the current dynamics of the art world today? What would you change?
Tyler: I would say that I’m just doing my own thing. I have been for years. So if the art world sways my way that’s great. If it doesn't, that's fine too. I will always just be doing what I’m doing and have my own niche. Only thing I would change is I hope more people appreciate art for the intrinsic value of art rather than purely investment.
Elle: Do you dream about any of your pieces?
Tyler: I, surprisingly, rarely dream. However, my work comes from a dialogue with the painting to create, destroy, and refine till the image in my mind comes into focus on the canvas.
Elle: What would you tell your old self and future self when it comes to your integrity as an artist?
Tyler: Honestly, I would just tell my old self to keep working on art after college instead of giving it up for several years. My skills and techniques didn’t go away in that time, but it was about 5 years of wasted time not doing what I actually love doing.
With such sagacious words from Scully, I’m hoping for a gallery from him soon. Viewing art in its live, in-person form is often perceived as the vehicle to forming a deeper, almost poetic connection with the work. But Scully's pieces speak to his audience just as well as through a screen. This form of culture and language inside Scully’s craftsmanship can change the world’s perspective on the avant-garde.
Scully’s minimal expressionist style is a nod towards the concept of “the other.” The idea is best articulated in a short story from the late 20th century by Jorge Luis Borges, which explores the relationship between oneself and a parallel entity. For one, it is a dream, and for the other, it is reality. The concept of “the other” envisions impacts on youth and future alike.
Scully’s work inspires the act of drawing parallels, most significantly between our society’s contrasting and sardonic qualities with the diversified hues and blending of colors in Scully’s art that inspire critical changes. One can observe the intense contrast between stylistic angles and how one choice can lead to an entire new action, and even course of life. These all affect our current being of us. Thank you to Tyler Scully for letting this movement of nuance occur.