Cali-native Tyler Spangler is much like his work: eccentric, complex, and passionate. Spangler’s drive is constant, and his digital art is so diverse and eclectic that it’s hard to point out what his work’s themes, motives, or suggestions are. However, one thing is certain: each piece is quite marvelous. So far, he has had five 440-page books of his work published, and he hopes to reach 100 publications by the end of his lifetime. His innovative techniques and radical ideas are allowing him to not only create bountiful quantities of pieces at a time, but also combine images that can either be aesthetically pleasing or thought-provoking. Cliché gets the scoop on Spangler’s creative process, aspirations, and Patch, his one-eyed rescue dog.
Cliché: Can you tell me a little about yourself?
Tyler Spangler: I am a surfer and a graphic designer from Pacific Palisades, California. I love to eat sour candy in the dark candlelight with headphones on. I have a one-eyed rescue puppy named Patch. I am recently engaged to the most beautiful person in the world, Jodi. I love early-80’s hardcore punk, early-90’s grunge, and mid-90’s dark metal/doom metal. My favorite foods are BBQ ribs and sushi. My favorite movies are Office Space, Gummo, Lost Across America, and Point Break. My favorite color is all the colors, all at once. I like solitude.
Where did your artistic journey begin?
When I started drawing on my surfboard in elementary school. Everyone was nervous because my drawings were always very violent and peculiar. I loved horror movies! From there my work naturally progressed to a more subtle form, doing away with gratuitous gore. I began experimenting with different materials and processes, which led to my fascination with collage and the world of dada. I still incorporate rudimentary forms of drawing into my collages but mainly experiment with various applications of photomontage; existing images placed in new environments have the most implicit emotional weight.
Your work sometimes seems to convey a statement, maybe in a protest nature, that can be construed as either political, social, etc. Do you do this purposely? And if so, what kind of messages are you trying to convey with your art?
I always question everything. I never take anything at face value, almost to a fault. This in combination with my psychology training has given me a unique perspective to attach iconoclastic undertones to my work. I’ll be honest though, some of the time it’s subconscious. I don’t think a piece has to be overtly meaningful to send a message; a work that doesn’t have a message at all can sometimes be more powerful. I hear loads of interesting things throughout the day, and this is my way of delivering a witty comeback to the world around me.
What techniques do you use?
Anxiety, surrealism, psychedelia, post-modernism, constructivism, and maximalism through the medium of digital collage. I have studied all these styles and filtered them through my schema.
Your work is very collage-like. How do you go about creating one piece?
A lot of it is emotion based. I seek out certain types of images depending on how I am feeling. I never usually use whole images. I like to take very small textures from dozens of different sources and construct an open source jigsaw of forms. I know I am finished when I would spend money on it. That is a good test.
Do you try to create daily or feed solely off inspiration?
Both. This is my job and my passion. I work with clients that allow me to be myself. Sometimes in the middle of working on a job, I get an idea to make something and stop what I’m doing, creating, like, four or five pieces in a frenzied excitement. Making something for yourself in total experimentation is a very therapeutic exercise, and I think that is where the most interesting ideas come from.
When and how did your eclectic style develop?
I have experimented with a lot of different styles. I am an innate researcher. I like to completely immerse myself into subcultures and feed off them. I like to think of myself as a passive sponge quietly absorbing ideas and methodologies. I can’t say that I am at a point where my style has come into focus, but I think I will continually be drawn to the depths of different worlds and progressing my vision.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Jan Svankmajer, Harmony Korine, Ozzie Wright, George Carlin, Jus Oborn, Kurt Cobain, Bad Brains, Sleep (band), sleep, Bell Witch, Young Marble Giants, Hole, surfing peaks, surfing point breaks, Mike Judge, Jodi Sagorin, unfortunate circumstances, candles, castles, empty beaches, instrumentals, Bethlehem (band), Patch the one-eyed dog, and other stuff that I can’t think of.
What would you like for your art to say about you?
I want people to see my passion and get excited about it. I want people to realize that everyone has a unique perspective and not to strive to meet someone else’s goals. I want people to smile when they see it. I want people to show their friends. I want people to put it on their walls next to their band posters. I want people to use it as a template. I want it to instigate a curiosity of what is acceptable.
You have published five books already. Are you in the midst of another or planning to put out more?
Each of my books has 440 designs in it. I have completely sold out of them, but I have enough new pieces to create another two books, making seven in total. I plan on publishing them very soon. I love keeping a physical archive of everything I make; it brings my digital world to life. I want to keep this practice until I die, and maybe I can reach one hundred 440-page books.
What are your future plans or hopes for your artistic career?
I am going to continue to produce work like a madman and seek to work with a more diverse range of clients. I would love to liven up some other markets. I eventually want to open a space for live music and performance art.
To see more of Tyler’s work, follow him on Instagram @tyler_spangler or visit his website tylerspangler.com
Tyler Spangler’s interview originally appeared in Cliché Magazine’s December/January 2014 issue.
Images courtesy of Tyler Spangler.