MIXED MEDIUM: TYLER SPANGLER

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For this edition of Mixed Medium we talk with California-based artist Tyler Spangler about his dreams of wallpapering government property, his three week stint as an illegal punk show promoter, and why this Halloween will be a major milestone for him.

OAK: You’ve been referred to as a California surf-punk, and art school drop out and have worked for Dazed & Confused, DuJour Mag, and have exhibited your work all over California and in Rome, Italy. In your own words, who is Tyler Spangler?
TYLER SPANGLER: I put everything I am into my work. I don’t understand when people say you need to separate yourself from your work. I don’t know whether it’s a passive way of shedding responsibility or a way of working devoid of personality. I am my work and my work is me. It seems really irresponsible to throw crap into the world without passion, but I suppose there can’t be light if it’s all darkness. I am extremely introverted. Most things I do, I do alone or with my girlfriend. A fun Friday night for me has always been staying home with headphones on making collages then getting up early to surf. I love live music but after being in a crowd for a night I am usually anxious to get away from everyone. My designs are a way for me to communicate with the world. Essentially, I want to inspire people. I want people to look at my work and go, “wow that is really awesome.” I want to share the same excitement and passion that I felt when I first saw a video of Bad Brains going nuts, or an insane layout by Wolfgang Weingart. I think it’s really important to keep everything cyclical in that way.

OAK: What can you tell us about the illegal punk venue you used to run? How did it come to be, and what exactly caused the shutdown?
TS: I booked shows for a while which became exhausting to find a good spot, so I scraped change together to rent out a small warehouse. The landlord thought it was a practice space and overlooked my lack of credit by taking money up front. I love live music. I was in the mood to see it every night of the week and with the bands of my choosing. I was also extremely passionate and inspired by how many good bands there were without places to play. I owe a lot of credit to the members of this band Joe’s Garage and my girlfriend Jodi who helped formulate the idea during a Pacific NW tour I organized. Their guitar player, Mike Fleck, who now plays in the band Hash, helped me out a ton. Given my dry financial situation, permits and licenses were ignored in exchange for immediate action. During the first show, people lit fireworks in pitch black as the first riff started. As the shows progressed, 13 total, more destruction started to occur to surrounding areas. Noise, chaos, and general underage debauchery are what led to the venues ultimate demise. I had no idea about most of the things going on while bands were playing, as I was attending to the sound, working the door, and watching the bands play. My naive intention was to charge five dollars admission and use that money to keep the place running. I had a whole budget worked out with how many shows I needed to have. In reality, I didn’t expect the place to last long because of the atmosphere and culture of punk shows which is why I crammed 13 shows into the three week period during the venues existence. It was probably the most exciting three weeks of my life.

OAK: Your work is chaotic, colorful, and breaks out of a lot of the traditional punk imagery people tend to associate with the word and movement. What does punk mean to you, and how is this expressed through your work?
TS: It’s healthy to constantly reshape existing systems. For example, if you’re kneading Play-doh, once you pull it apart and fold it over itself, you see a side you’ve never seen before and gain a new perspective on its nature. I like to relate a lot of what I do to the scientific method, maybe its my psychology schooling, but I find a lot of important similarities between the two. People get too hung up on how things are supposed to be. Stagnancy can be very harmful. Iconic imagery will always have value but hanging on to it with too much inflexibility is extremely stifling to creative growth.

OAK: What are your Halloween plans? Are you dressing up this year? What was your best costume ever?
TS: [This Halloween is my] five year anniversary with my beautiful girlfriend, Jodi. I have something special planned. We are dressing up as Wayne and Garth [from Wayne’s World]. We bought the wigs, clothes, and everything. My best costume was when I dressed up as a rabbi to impress my future girlfriend and her family, who were obviously Jewish. I actually grew out a curly payot, which didn’t get the reception I was hoping for.

OAK: What was the inspiration behind the Horror Selfies you created for Dazed & Confused for this year’s Halloween?
TS: The horror selfies were based off different subgenres of horror films, revolving mainly around satanic and body horror. I am a huge horror fan so it was really fun to be able to dive into this and get my hands bloody.

OAK: Can you describe your personal style?
TS: Maximalist deconstruction dipped in a rainbow with sprinkles of postmodern.

OAK: Can you recall a specific work (or works), whether it was an album, a movie, a designer collection, that made you want to create? Or rather someone who was a driving force in inspiring your work?
TS: George Carlin, The Office, Electric Wizard, Bethlehem, Surfing, American Hardcore, early …Lost surf movies, Gummo, El Lissitzky, Kurt Shwitters, Wolfgang Weingart, Wassily Kandinsky, April Greiman, Bad Brains, Black Flag, David Carson, Ozzie Wright, Kurt Cobain, Rudy VanderLans, road trips, candy, and dark rooms with candles lit.

OAK: What has held you back when it comes to creating?
TS: Money and laws. I want to wallpaper roads, bridges, buildings, planes, boats, people, lighthouses, and piers. I want to cover the world in pattern.

OAK: What are you looking to explore next?
TS: How I can achieve wallpapering roads, bridges, buildings, planes, boats, people, lighthouses, and piers. I also want to open another venue that explores performance art and holds live shows.

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