Inside the Artist’s Studio:
Find what you love and let it kill you.
The Pop Art style of Tyler Shelton
By Derrick White
“Art has given me a sense of purpose and a sense I’m contributing to society in some way. I always felt like I had no place, art has given me a place,” states local artist Tyler Shelton. He continues, “I am a self-taught artist for the most part. I have taken a few classes here and there but never seemed to retain much new information from them. I have learned a lot from my mother Suzanne Shelton, who studied in France and graduated with a fine art degree and has taught art for the last 20 years. If I ever have questions or need guidance, I go to her and she is always very helpful.”
Tyler Shelton works in what are predominantly a colorful, pop art style creating powerful and captivating paintings, collages, photographs, and murals. He sometimes revisits prevailing, iconic images such as Elvis, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Mick Jagger, and Marilyn Monroe. His images become a clash of commercialism and expressionism juxtaposing familiar, recognizable images while expressing an emotional experience. Pop art is an art movement which began during the mid-1950s. The movement included imagery from popular, American consumer cultures, such as advertising, comic books, commonplace objects, Hollywood, and celebrities. It is also associated with the artists’ use of reproduction techniques and photography.
“I have experimented with many different styles and I’m always thinking of new aesthetics to achieve. Most of my pieces I would say are along the lines of abstract pop art or psychedelic pop art. I started out just painting intricate designs and trying to make them as clean and perfect as possible but I eventually drove myself crazy and lost interest in trying to make things perfect. Now a lot of my pieces are very expressive and sloppy which I enjoy more because I think it’s more honest in a sense, and often times quicker. Using a lot of colors like baby blue and mint green, elements where one looks at it and it just seems fresh like a piece of spearmint gum,” explains the artist.
Tyler has increasingly become more interested in photography, specifically vintage portraits, grainy, nostalgic, and black and white. He states, “I really enjoy the collage of photography and acrylic paint so I have been doing a lot of that recently. I have never been very computer savvy but I am getting a lot more experienced with Illustrator and Photoshop. When done right, it can look very professional and most businesses and local bands seek digital art more than paintings, so I feel like it is in high demand. I am practicing with spray paint a lot and I really love the application process and the textures it has to offer but I am not where I want to be with it yet.”
Tyler Shelton has won best in show at Gallery Main Street in Downtown Tyler and has recently completed a fun and colorful mural on the stairs at Caldwell Arts Academy certain to entertain and inspire the rug rats. He was also one of the participating artists on the mural at ETX Brewing Company. “I was always a very bad student and didn’t have much going for me when I graduated high school. I started college and ended up dropping out very quickly. I decided to really focus on art and began to see I actually had a shot to make a living off of it. I would paint every day for about 8-12 hours or so for several years, I just let it consume me and I really grew very quickly and now at age 22, I am able to rely on income from my art. I’m not making a killing but I’m making a living and I see great things ahead in my career as an artist,” exclaims the artist. Adding, “I would say one of the best things art has brought to my life is confidence. My parents always made it very clear to me I needed to go to college and find a good, high-paying job to ensure my success in society. It’s not that I disagreed with them but I just had no idea what I was going to do about it. I wasn’t very responsible. I didn’t have many life skills, the only things I was actually good at were sports and art. But I stuck with art and it’s taken me places and made me grow as a person and guided me through life in a way and now I feel confident in myself and my future.”
Shelton concludes, “The most frustrating thing to me as an artist is frustration itself. I have noticed my creativity flow comes in waves. I will come up with great ideas and be super motivated for months and I will be killing it, then out of the blue I will have no good ideas and be very unmotivated for months. It is very frustrating to get frustrated. Art shouldn’t be frustrating. You don’t make good art when you’re frustrated. Something I’ve learned is that art is fluid and it only makes sense creativity would be fluid too, so you can’t fight it you just have to ride it.”
Shelton is inspired by artists such as The Doors’ Jim Morrison, although not a visual artist. Tyler has read much of his poetry and lyrics and found it to be incredible. “He has inspired many pieces of mine and has inspired me to venture into other artistic fields such as music and literature,” says Shelton.
Tyler’s most obvious inspiration comes from superstar artist, Andy Warhol (American artist, director and producer and a leading figure in the pop art movement). Tyler states, “I really respect him as an artist because he didn’t do it the traditional way and he rewrote art itself. He really took art and did whatever he wanted and did it however he wanted.”
“Art is what you can get away with,” – Andy Warhol.