Tyler Spangler tells us about his transition from psychology to therapeutic typography

After initially studying for a degree in psychology, California-based artist Tyler Spangler started exploring visual mediums for creative expression. It was his work on flyers and other music-related promotional material during a brief stint running an illegal punk venue that got Tyler interested in graphic design. He attended Art Center in Pasadena for a year but, as he says, “dropped out due to boredom and finances”. He now works as a freelance typographic and graphic collage artist, sharing his creations with his extensive Instagram following.

Tyler describes his work as “a rainbow flavoured popsicle dipped in the ocean and placed on a rock to melt. It’s a combination of anxiety fuelled consciousness and an attempt to make sense of everything.” His typographic works typically feature a vivid colour palette, glitchy layering and distortions of letterforms, and carry messages for the modern world.

Speaking of how he developed his practice and his distinctive approach to typography as a visual medium of artistic expression, Tyler says: “It mostly stemmed from my initial experiences with panic attacks. I was making notes on my phone and one day realised they might be beneficial to other people if they were attractively designed. It is a therapeutic exercise for me. A lot of my collage work is very open-ended and this is a nice way to explore direct communication (and also sharpen my typography skills).”

Before he began employing letterforms as communicative devices in his visual works, Tyler’s practice was based in Photoshop collages constructed using shapes and found images. He states that “since I’ve started doing more typography I have had a lot more engagement. I think people can relate to it better than some of my abstract collages. It makes me feel amazing and almost feels like I am using my education in psychology and channeling it through my artwork.”

Tyler makes his vibrant, psychedelic and often sardonic works according to a process that draws on the chromatic techniques of visual art and the principles of graphic design. He tells us: “I have a jpg file with my colour palette and textures and I use those throughout my work. I typically just play some instrumental music and think about how I have been feeling the previous days and use those thoughts as starting points. I like to mix up the colours of each design so each piece isn’t favouring one particular colour too much – although I am super fixated on combining burnt orange and pink.” 

Having discovered his niche in the intersecting worlds of graphic art and typography, Tyler now has a pretty good idea of what it takes to establish a unique visual identity. As he puts it: “Social media tends to homogenise styles very quickly so its important to not peek and see what everyone is up to and get back to your own thing. It’s no secret that Instagram is an amazing tool to share artwork – if you’re able to push your work through all the saturation.”

Burning through the online saturation with his highly saturated digital works, Tyler presents a veritable rainbow of optimism and affirmation. His personal mission, it seems, is to inject his personal brand of colourful positivity into the endless stream of digital content, and into the dullness of the quotidian consciousness.

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