A freethinking man of the ocean, Tyler Warren possesses a rare approach to wave sliding; unparalleled, distinct. His surfing is subtle, yet simultaneously loud.
Tyler let us into his life for half a day. Watch him surf, shape an asymmetrical board, and cruise in his art studio.
Thank you Tyler for sharing.
Thank you Brooks at We Love Creativity for setting up the interview.
Music / The Growlers - Sea Lion Goth Blues
Film / Edit - James Tull
Interview / Brooks Sterling
WeLoveCreativity.com - How did you originally get involved with art and design?
Tyler - Just like every little kid, likes to color and draw. I just always enjoyed creating my own little world, drawing indians, or insides of tanks. Whatever my imagination wanted to see. I just never stopped, since I was young.
Your family is involved in art too right?
My mom always encouraged me to do art. She was very inspirational. My whole mom's side of the family is artistic. My dad too, he would always draw plans before he builds something. LIke a table, or patio cover. My uncle is an oil painter. I work for him for a couple years and learned a lot. It was like art school. I always took art classes in school. I think its definitely inside me, just creating.
What influences or inspires you art?
A little bit of everything. Every day life. I really want to let what's around me inspire me. Whether it be someone I know's vehicle, or a certain feeling of a time of day at my local beach. I'm starting to tap more into who I am, and where I'm from and what I do. But then I have all these influences of books I've boughten over the years on amazon, or stuff like that. You can see old illustrator work.. I like anything from the 1900s to 1960's 70-90's all that stuff too. There is so much out there that can inspire you.
Take us through the steps of your creations.
To start a project or an idea. I usually will sketch it out at my desk in the morning while drinking coffee, or sometimes in my car at the beach. Things start with a small idea. If its a good one, it will keep re occurring in your mind, and you'll want to do it. After I do a loose sketch or idea, I will really hone in on what I'm drawing, and find imagery of it, or similar objects. Say I want to do Terry Martin's van, that he ended up totaling, and now he has another one. But he had this one van he drove for 30 years, it's all rusty and beat. My idea was to put it infront of a glass shop. So I shot a photo of the van, before he totaled it. I worked from that, get all the lines going, a roach sketch and tighten it up. If it's an oil painting, I'm usually working on canvas. I'll put a transparent tinted jesso over it, 3 times, then sand it so its super smooth. The way I learned to paint, is just really thin. Blend your color, and slowly build it like a coloring book. Then you can go back over it, and do glazes and push and pull darks, bumping up the contrast, like on your computer.
Pattern work. My first commission job was for simple shoes. Now I really want to do oil painting and bigger stuff. I want to get into designing clothing more, like the actual article of clothing, and picking good colors. Basically designing an article of clothing that I want to wear. Like a bitchen pair of good denim jeans and plain t-shirt, nice colors. That is the next step, but have an art element to it.
How did you get involved in shaping surfboard?
I always loved surfboard design and the idea of designing a surfboard that you're going to ride all the time. Certain boards would appeal to me more than others, because of the template, the curve, or the fins or the color. My dad used to do photocopies of board templates for me. I drew one and he would bring them back, and I would fill them in with color. I shaped my first board when I was 14 with my friend Christian Wok, and his little brother Carson. We ripped the glass off this old 70's board and made a little single fin egg. We shaped it on the side of the street at the base of his driveway. The thing actually ended up coming out really good. Then I think I made a board for Alex Knost after that, when I was 15 or 16. We shaped one together, in front of his house. That one came out a little more wobbly (laughs). Then I made about a board a year, for 10 years. But in those ten years, I watched almost all my boards get shaped. I've watched a dozen different shapers shape. Like Terry Martin, Malcolm Campbell, Garry Larson, Marc Johnson, Manuel Caro, Josh Hall, Chris Christensen. All these people that influence me, just so you can see what they're doing. Because I liked watching my boards get shaped.
And then I was teaching this little girl to surf. She was 9, and I was letting ride this white pony board, one of Richard Kedman's hydro dynamica projects. It was like 4'11by 22 inches wide with a swallow tail. It was an epoxy, and she was some light little girl. I would swim out at Doheny and push her in, and she would just fly on this thing (smiles). And then her Dad wanted to get her one of these boards. So I told him I would shape her one. I finished it, and it came out so good, I'm like "I gotta keep this for myself!" (Laughs) That was my ninth board I think. And then so I made her another out of an epoxy blank that Robbie Keigel gave me, a couple years ago for my birthday. That was my first epoxy. I made it a little longer and narrower for her, and it came out really nice. That was my tenth board.
Then I made a batch of 3 for an art show. Those were all Simmons inspired designs, but I changed every one of them. One had double concave, one had single concave, one had vee. They all had different tails, and then so that was the first Soaps. Then that took off, and I started making the Soap boards, and then quads, then 11 footers. It's all starting to evolve right now. I really love shaping because its basically functional art. It's like a painting, but you can fuckin' ride it. You can stand on it, and go surfing, and go fast. It's so cool. I love it.
Then you can change it. Like today I was riding like my 61'st board. And I've made like 100 boards since then. I'm like dude I need a new board. But I'm working on one right now, that we're gonna go see later, that I'm pretty excited about.
Do you have an advice for people who want to become artists, illustrators, designers, shapers? The people who follow their dream and passion, like you've done.
People that want to follow their dreams, do some artwork, shape, be a photographer, a good place to start is to start doing it, and don't stop. That's all you gotta do. Believe that you can do it, and actually do it. Don't just talk about it. Practice. I put so much time into my art, its crazy how long I spend sometimes on a drawing. I guess its not that long,but it seems long. I'll sit sometimes for 6 hours, because I know it has to be done that night.
Take the time, to take your time. I'm still learning to take my time. Be patient with the work, shaping, really working out all the kinks. That's a big thing for me, having it be appealing to the eye. Relally shooting for what I want to see in life, whether it be like a beautiful woman, or nice wave, or a well shaped surfboard, or a buffalo standing in the hotel room, that Doug Aken shot. (laughs) Or just like a squiggly blue line with grape juice painted on water color paper. (laughs)
Yah so, I think there is always room for more creative people. People love that, musicians that are good, everyone has a different view, and everyone is living a different life, so nothing is going to be the same again. People need to express who they are. I think the more people do stuff by hand, or with their body or voice or actions to create something is good. Even if you are doing it on the computer, you can do amazing things. I think that working on oil paintings, or doing it how people were doing it 400 years ago feels good. It's not dead. Hand shaping a board like people did 50 years ago, before computers. I was thinking about it the other day, like shaping a board, looking at the template. This template had a couple bumps in it, then I thought. Those guys in Greece would do sculptures that were perfectly sculpted like a human, they didn't have computers or lasers to cut the stone, they were chiseling it, and they got it like as smooth as a babies butt. Things like that are mind boggling. The statue of liberty. I dunno.
Be an architect, do something. Don't work at McDonald's. (Laughs)
I've been working on shaping surfboards and really enjoying that. It's a constant evolution just like art. I want to keep getting better, and keep doing what I'm doing. I'm super thankful for everything that's happened.
I've been working on a movie called the "Tyler Warren Experiments". So hopefully that comes out soon. Which would be huge, because we've been working on it for half a decade. That movie is based on riding a bunch of crazy boards, and making your own boards. It should be an inspirational piece hopefully.
My main thing is that I want people to do what the love, and enjoy what I do, and yah, keep it all goin'. Keep the creative spirit alive.
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