Step into the vivid visions of Tyler Spangler

This graphic designer uses music and emotion to create surreal artworks.

Tyler Spangler is a Californian graphic designer with a penchant for rich colours and irreverent imagery. He composes odd relationships between the old and the new, coupling vintage photography with contemporary illustration techniques. We asked Spangler about the figurative weight behind his work. Are there real messages to educe from this surreal approach?

“I create my work in a “stream of consciousness” sort of way. I don’t think too much while I am creating it. I like it to come off raw and unfiltered. People have said my work has a bunch of subconscious meanings, which I think is great. I think it’s really good to be able to interpret something in more than one way – keeps it interesting,” he said.

Tyler Spangler artwork

On encapsulating his own artistic style, Spangler added, “I like to describe my style as a grape flavoured popsicle dipped in the ocean and placed on a rock to melt. I am influenced by sunsets, candy, Electric Wizard, anxiety, obsession, and peace.”

This designer’s creative process includes shifting to a serene state of mind. He isolates himself with music in order to tap into deeper feelings.

“I use Photoshop and Illustrator for everything. I begin by getting into a state of mind that is closed-off from the outside world. I put on my headphones with some music and translate whatever emotions I am feeling. I find all of my images through the Library of Congress and Flickr Commons. From there I tear apart images and piece them with other images to give them new meanings.”

Spangler is a self-taught artist. After graduating high school, he pursued psychology and art but soon found that the formal training was unsatisfactory and too costly when compared to the creative payoff. He urges creative minds to nurture their talent even if it means going it alone.

“I think it all comes down to perseverance. I don’t believe anyone has innate talent over anyone else. The more you work at a skill the better you will become. I worked harder outside of art school then I did when I was at art school. I didn’t think the money I was pouring into the system was beneficial for me, so I dropped out.

There are things that can be learned at school, which might be unavailable elsewhere, but that choice is unique to each individual. My advice would be to explore all avenues and figure out which works best for you. Above all stay true to what you want to create and persevere in the face of criticism.”

Tyler Spangler artwork