My pre-pandemic visit to 23-year-old Chloe Tyler‘s attic bedroom/art studio was like stepping into the psychedelic world of a Jimi Hendrix album. Color, materials, paint splatters, textures and inspiration were everywhere. And I mean everywhere. Once I learned of Chloe’s creative family tree, and her new adoptive friend family of creators in her new hometown, it all made sense: the girl was made to make art. Loud, unapologetic art that makes you literally stop in your tracks and think about something bigger than what’s in front of you.
Fresh out of college — during which she created a mini career for herself photographing SEC football and designing boxes for famous pizza chains — Chloe has landed in Nashville, TN. Between illustrating children’s books, designing patterns for high-end men’s clothing and creatively directing an emerging rock band, I feel lucky to have snagged a few hours of her time. Get to know this truly freeform and unruly artist, and remember her name. You’ll be seeing more of it, we suspect. Meet the world’s next big pop artist, Chloe Tyler.
Tell me a little about your background and your trajectory into art.
I grew up in Atlanta, GA, to a creative, wacky family. I always had this feeling that I wanted to do something creative, but it really didn’t pique my interest until high school. I was always an athlete, but I started getting anxious when it wasn’t fulfilling me anymore. So I decided to take an art class. It came really naturally. Both of my grandmas and my great-grandpa are artists, and my aunt is an artist. It connected with me, and then I threw myself into it my junior year of high school. By the time I found art in college, it was all I could think about and all I could do.
How did you make a name for yourself and your art at the University of Georgia?
The only reason I was able to get myself through college financially was because of how supportive the city of Athens and the people I met at UGA were of my art. I became known as “Chloe Tyler, that artist girl,” and by the time I was a senior, I was pretty well-known all over campus. Working for the football team definitely helped with that, too. It was a struggle getting my name out there, and I am the kind of person who loves to be left alone to work. Throughout college, I began to realize that to actually do this for a living, I have to learn how to be the introverted artist as well as the extroverted salesperson/marketer in order to promote myself and get my work out there. I still have a lot more to learn.
How did your family and upbringing play a role in fostering your creativity?
My mom raised [my two sisters and me] to be very independent, driven women. We were taught to do everything with our whole entire hearts. She is my favorite creative partner. Art is our favorite thing to talk about. We could go on for hours discussing the different projects we are working on. She understands me in a way that nobody else in the world does because it is so obviously a character trait that she gave me genetically. This inability to sit still, always wanting to make something with our hands, always wanting to create something new.
I’m also very resourceful because of her. I never throw anything away. I am a complete hoarder. I can always reuse something or turn it into something else. I have dozens of [my boyfriend’s] used guitar strings because every time he changes them, I’m always like, “No! Don’t throw those away. I can use them” … for what? Who knows, I’ll figure it out eventually. I collect stamps, license plates, jars for my paintbrushes, matchboxes and lighters. My walls are also so full because I don’t throw away any of my work.
I fell in love with a boy from Nashville during college. But I want to be clear that’s not why I moved here [Chloe laughs]. I always had a feeling I wanted to move to Nashville. My dream job is to make album art and any art related to music. That’s my favorite little niche. I just love bright, graphic colors. Nashville’s an edgy place, so I took the plunge. When I first moved here, I lived with my boyfriend, Henry, and the Willie Pearl guys (his band) as they were recording an album.
It was completely inspiring to witness them making music right in front of me. They are so committed to their music, and it’s an incredible influence on my own work ethic. They didn’t have to ask me to make art for them. I just started making it. It was all I could think about. It still is. I want to celebrate their incredible talent and shout it from the rooftops. The art I make is my response to the music I love. We all just became best friends so fast. And it was through a friend of the band’s that I was connected with Flowerpot Press.
Yes, Flowerpot, tell me more about your job there.
They publish mainly children’s books. I work on illustrations, graphic design, and lots of different creative design elements. They have really given me a lot of freedom in my work, and it feels amazing. They’re just an incredibly fun family, and we all sit around and pitch book ideas. I pitched them The Cultured Doughnut, and they were so into it. I love working for a small company. I’ve learned so much about the publishing company because I am in the process from start to finish.
The Onward Reserve collaboration is just so cool. How did this come about, and what are you doing for them?
A guy my age named Ben, who also went to UGA, works for them. He studied fashion merchandising and told me he knew my work through Instagram. He asked me to design patterns for an upcoming Spring line on patterned polos, boxers and swimsuits. I was so nervous. I hadn’t worked with clothing … especially not menswear. People will actually be wearing my art. It’s a traditionally conservative company, too, but Ben was amazing and gave me tons of honest feedback while also letting me do my thing.
Who are some of your favorite artists right now?
I really love Ashley Longshore. Her stuff’s incredible. She has no reins. I want to have her confidence, but I’m not there yet. Also, Steve Penley. I have a Penley sketch up there actually [pointing]. Henry’s grandma is Penley’s neighbor. She has tons of these, and she was able to snag me one. When [Henry] brought it back to me, I was drooling.
Has being here and spending time with other artists helped you grow as an artist?
I am a huge advocate for artists supporting artists. Collaborating ultimately allows us to create something that has so much more of an impact on the people around us. And for the first time in my life, I am truly living in a community of artists. The energy is electric and exciting. We are all constantly encouraging one another to continue creating. Not to mention, there is something about “chasing your dreams” — as cheesy as it sounds — that has really bonded us all … the band and our immediate band “family.” We all struggled to get on our feet financially together, and we all took the chance of going after our creative pursuits together. No matter what, succeed or fail, I am never going to sacrifice making art for anything, and they have the same mindset. It feels good to know the people around me have the same belief in their own art.
What are people surprised to learn about you?
I’ve been told I come off as a little intimidating. But I’m not at all. I’m actually a little mousey. I feel like the more that I’ve gotten into this career and this lifestyle, the more I’ve really pulled away from having a social life. But I don’t look at that as a disadvantage. I still have my best friends and my sisters, who I talk to on the phone all the time. They’re all over the country doing such incredible things.
Another thing: My intended major was biological engineering. The administrators said, “That’s the biggest switch of majors we’ve ever seen!” But I feel like a scientific mind and an artistic mind go hand in hand. It’s about trying to understand what’s going on physically. At one point, I wanted to be a doctor, but I didn’t want to go to school for that long. I’m not really good at following rules.
Can you walk us through your artistic process?
I do lots of research. I always begin each project with research: color patterns, resources, style choices. If I am doing a painting for a house, I always start off by visiting the house and seeing what the space is like. I also do a lot of research just on my own, not for any specific project. A big part of that research is looking at the greats. The Met and MoMA artists … the best of the best. I love putting a modern/contemporary twist on classical techniques and styles.
I have a very obsessive personality. When I’m obsessed with painting farm animals, I paint a lot of farm animals. If I’m obsessed with painting melting flowers, I do a lot of pieces with melting flowers. If I find a bunch of really cool lighters, I start seeking out and collecting cool lighters. If I have an idea for a new project, it keeps me up at night for hours. No joke. I have the worst sleep schedule because nighttime is when all of my creative juices really start flowing. There is something about the rest of the world being asleep that helps keep me focus when there are no other distractions.
How did your stint in New York City affect you as an artist?
I lived in New York City last summer to study modern art, and the biggest thing I took home with me was that I am just not a fan of minimalism. Yes, it is beautiful in a house, don’t get me wrong. But when it comes to art, I personally like it to be loud. Naturally, I was drawn to pop art and became completely obsessed with the bold voice that comes with it. I want to make art that makes a statement. Something that you can’t walk by without noticing. I like art that is bold and unafraid. I truly believe color is the greatest gift God gave us. Color is like a taste of life. It sparks emotion and thought. It makes life so much more beautiful and spectacular. So I guess that’s why I go overboard with it.
What fulfills you the most about your artistic process?
My favorite thing about painting is the movement. I grew up playing sports my entire life, and that ingrained in me this deep desire to move. I love being an active person. And large-scale painting is my favorite type of painting. The movement of each stroke … I practically dance while I paint. That’s when I have insane jam sessions, singing at the top of my lungs, bouncing around. It’s the best feeling in the world. That’s the thing that brings me the most joy. Creating is what I feel like I’m meant to do, and I’ll never give it up. I’ll be an old lady buried in my own paintings one day.
Thanks, Chloe, for welcoming us into your colorful world. Check out more of Chloe’s work by following her on Instagram — she’s @chloetylerrr. And thanks to Leila Grossman of Grannis Photography for the photos.
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