Sponsored by Steam Whistle Brewery

Written by Grace Yoon


Hello all artists, art lovers and friends!

Welcome to our first interview of 2015 with artist and designer Tyler Higgs, made possible by Vancouver's very own Steam Whistle Brewery.

Tyler’s inspiration comes from everything around him - the sights, sounds, smells from all aspects of life and the emotional roller-coaster it can brings. He likes to illustrate and convey these experiences, as abstract as many of them are, which makes the artwork challenging but also makes the art that much more enjoyable when it comes out just right. He is often off living through his imagination as he goes about his day-to-day life which is where some of his more fantastical and imaginary pieces come from, but it is the human experience pieces that he finds the most satisfying.

Lab Art Show: Before we start asking you questions about your work as an artist, we’d like to get a bird’s eye view of how you see the art community evolving and impacting the city of Vancouver? Internationally?

With such a small art community in Vancouver, it is important for it to reach further and get a larger following and strengthen both it and the artists within it. With shows like the Lab Art Show where use of social media, print media and more are used, I think we are slowly evolving into a more established community. It has a long way to go I would say compared to other big cities, but with the more open spread socially and reaching out to larger demographics, incorporating more than just visual art, but music, performance, live art, and social networking I see the art scene locally growing to find it's Vancouver Art voice. Internationally I feel we are still growing and discovering what the Vancouver art scene will be viewed at, but more events spreading and promoting more local art will help us find that international recognition over time.

Lab Art Show: How do you see this impacting your goals as an artist?

As an artist who works a non-artist job outside of their artwork, my goal professionally would be able to do more creative artwork for a living. I have the most fun creating my artwork with no restriction, theme, rules or brands to work within, so being free to create artwork professionally without restriction or on projects with a lot of creative freedom is something I would like to do more of. Working with more creative people on creative projects and mediums locally and abroad is a goal I am working toward. For now, being able to freelance and make commission pieces for fans of my work for now has already been a honor and brings a lot of enjoyment to my work.

Lab Art Show: Alright Tyler, we know you have a career aside from your role as an artist so how do you manage to find time and inspiration to create your pieces? We want to know what your biggest challenge is as a multifaceted artist, such as yourself.

As an artist who does most of their work outside their everyday workplace, time is always my biggest challenge. I would love to spend days or weeks on large scale ink works, paintings, and more, but with limited time I challenge myself to put together as complete of a piece of artwork I can each day with what limited time I have to do it. While an hour or so per daily work is not long, it has challenged me to always have my mind working subconsciously on new subjects to try that day or the next, and how to execute the core values in that idea that I want to express in the time constraint I put on myself.

Lab Art Show: Speaking of challenges, how do you overcome them and what do you hope to accomplish when creating your works?

Initially my goal this year was to push myself each day with a new piece of artwork, to better refine my skills and convey fun ideas and subjects in my head that I want to draw, ink or paint. As the artwork transitioned to more expressive, and abstract creative work, I found it a fast and expressive outlet to create work that can more convey how I see, feel, think, and take in my surroundings due to the diversity and number of works over the year. This is something that I hope to speak to my audience with as a lot of the pieces often have deeper meanings, symbolism, mental health, and emotional expression in them. I ultimately hope my work speaks to and inspires others to keep pushing themselves further in whatever they strive for creatively or otherwise.

Lab Art Show: That's great, we love thinking outside of the box! It’s fascinating that you have trained your mind to create subconsciously. Your work ethic is admirable. Tyler, you describe such dedication, commitment and persistence as an artist! What is some advice you would give to a fellow/new artist and why?

Practice everyday, and then practice some more. Your mind is your greatest asset beyond any medium you will come across, push it, your skills, and don't give up. I was fortunate to have a father who is artistic and taught me as much as he could as I was growing up and gave me many creative outlets to try and push my skills. If you have the opportunity to work with and learn from an artist around you, embrace that opportunity, as I look back and can see how the development of my artwork and style could have been furthered, even if I had tried to learn more from him and other artists around me.

Lab Art Show: Beautiful. As you know, we believe in creating an inspirational atmosphere with our shows for artists and art lovers alike, as well. What has been the best part of being an artist so far?

When I started my daily pieces this year, I had a very small following of friends and family mostly; what has been the best part over the year has been the support of the social art community around the globe. When I see that my art work, the refinement of my skills, subject matter and range of work has inspired other artists and non-artists to then push themselves, that to me is one of the greatest rewards of my work. To be inspired by artists I follow, and now to inspire those following me has been one of the best parts. The incredibly fast growth of global following and support for my work each day has kept me motivated to keep pushing myself when motivation and the creative flow can so easily slow down.

Lab Art Show: How do your various mediums differentiate your art from the rest?

Where I think my work often stands out is in its range that it can speak to people, especially with my daily pieces that I started this year. Each day I have to come up with a new piece, a new challenge, a new opportunity to try something new and in turn reach out to an audience different and beyond the previous days artwork.

Lab Art Show: For sure, creating a piece of work everyday is no small feat. Your Instagram is just one example that's definitely overflowing with your creativity and talent. The amount of detail in each of your daily drawings is shocking. It seems you draw all types of forms - humans, animals, technology, sci-fi, etc., and fuse them together like magic.  What inspires the synergy of all your subject matter and why?

My subject matter is largely inspired by my imagination and how I convey things around me like events, life, social issues and more. Since I was young, I have always had a very fantastical imagination and art has been my outlet for showing and sharing it with others. I think I largely do and enjoy doing the more abstract and imagination fueled pieces as it helps convey a larger part of myself in my art beyond what can just be seen with our eyes. For the viewer it gives them a more personal glimpse of myself and something that I am trying to translate from my mind; and for myself, it give others a better understanding of myself or something I am expressing.

Lab Art Show: So your work is a personal journey of understanding life, which makes your art different and uniquely your own?

Where I think my work is uniquely my own, or the most of myself in the artwork is the more abstract and emotional related works taking on subjects and visual elements that we don't see in our everyday lives, so the viewer is getting a glimpse into the artist beyond just strokes and lines on the pages.

Lab Art Show: We appreciate "a very fantastical imagination”! With that being said, could you describe your creative process and what the steps are for you to create a new piece?

My creative process has evolved over time in speed, detail and style, but the core methods have remained for the most part the same. I have an idea in my mind, how the artwork is shaped, weight of lines, color, and depth, from there I start with a very light and loose sketch often with graphite. Detail is minimal with rough shapes, just the most basic idea only with the sketch. From there I often go straight into my ink or color work, ink is incredibly unforgiving which I enjoy as it adds to the challenge and commitment of the lines. Heavy lines, followed by detail ink lines, and finally any grey or color tones are added.

Lab Art Show: Sounds like you have quite a technical and systematic approach to your very creative palette. Tyler, so far it’s obvious that you are an artist because your imagination and creativity can’t be tamed within your mind - it clearly wants to be unleashed - but for the sake of this interview, could you explain exactly why you do what you do?

I do what I do because it is the most honest expression for someone like myself, nobody else can do it as there is only one me. My artwork is my creative place where I make no mistakes, it is my world that I can express and share with anyone who views it and it is something that I want to share with others. It is through my artwork I can express beyond any other form of communication I have; it conveys ideas and visions in my mind that I could only translate with my pencil, ink, or paint works. It has become a form of therapeutic mental expression, helping me work through and push forward in life, and hopefully inspire others by sharing the artwork that comes as a result.

Lab Art Show:  Would you be able to share a real life situation that’s impacted your art work?

Much of my work is driven by real life situations, but often with a more imaginative twist, but there are times when a more literal approach in my work comes out. With quite a few pieces conveying mental health, emotion, society, and discrimination, one example of an impact piece in my daily series came about from a border crossing when traveling. I am a Canadian citizen, have been all my life, and like many people I traveled abroad to our neighbors and to the South to visit friends. As an individual with different cultural backgrounds, I am often met with discriminatory treatment when traveling, and even when returning home. After several instances of prejudice, and one specific incident of unnecessary mistreatment at the border, I was inspired to convey that situation with the 269/365 daily artwork. With that piece I wanted to not just convey the ignorance and treatment, but also the prejudice the remarks are rooted in with the symbolism in the arms. That is one more negatively impacting situation, but inspiration comes from all areas of life and experiences around me that I try and put visually to paper.

Lab Art Show: Tyler, thank you so much for giving us a detailed look into your “fantastical imagination”. To wrap up, could you leave us with three artists who have impacted your career and why?

There are so many artists who have impacted me, but three of the more impacting ones are:

Kenneth Rocafort - He inspired me to start the daily drawings on top of my regular art and work, also an amazing comic book artist whose style I have always enjoyed. His range with and beyond his illustration work is something that I strive towards myself.

Andy Park - An incredible digital artist with amazing landscapes, characters, and color work. His dynamic angles and story telling in his work I find inspiring and something to work towards in reaching similar levels of refinement in my own artwork.

Leonardo da Vinci - Always making sure that I come back to the classical artists to keep grounded, I find his work inspiring as its range from anatomy, machines, painting and more is something that I like to do myself and it motivates me to keep trying new things rather then always working on one main subject matter.

Lab Art Show: Okay, one more - name one thing you couldn't live without!

My creative mind that never stops.