Tyler Shields Is In The Pursuit Of Creating Iconic Art

Tyler Shields Is In The Pursuit Of Creating Iconic Art

Tyler Shields is the contemporary artist and filmmaker playing by his own rules.

Tyler Shields is the contemporary artist and filmmaker playing by his own rules.

Text: Staff

Being hailed by some as the "Warhol of the digital age," Tyler Shields is the groundbreaking filmmaker and artist who unapologetically continues to push the boundaries of art and culture. With a roster of subjects including Evan Peters, Emma Roberts, Demi Lovato, and Dave Franco, Shields has made a household name for himself in the art world. We caught up with the acclaimed artist and chatted about his goals as an artist, as well as his consumption of the concentrated reactionary response his work evokes. Check out the interview below and a slideshow provided by Shields himself.

Why do you choose to photograph the particular people you photograph?

I see things in people. Sometimes things they don't even see in themselves. So part of the fun is taking that thing I see in the moment, whatever it is, and making it a reality. That being said, casting is everything you need; people who are game. You need people who want to create. Who get what you're doing and want to take it to that next level.

What type of person is your ideal model?

Fearless. I love people who are unafraid to do things. It's funny because you never know who will be fearless. Like, I have shot 10 year olds who have less fear then some 30 year olds.

What’s been the highlight of your career thus far?

I think that's all up to opinion. Some people say being in the window at Sotheby's next to Richard Avedon, or having a show with Helmut Newton, but all depends for me. I am always excited about what I am working on next. Right now, I am working on a new series that I'm shooting entirely on an 8 by 10 large format camera. So for me, at this moment, that is the most exciting thing.

What’s your goal when you’re creating images?

The goal is always to make something iconic, something that will last the test of time, and something I can either put in a museum, gallery, or book. That's the goal at least. It's obviously easier said than done, but it took me years to figure out exactly what I really wanted out of making work.

Do you think someone can learn to be a good photographer or is it more of an inherent ability?

You can certainly learn, no one starts out a master at anything. By practicing, I am much better now than when I started. Photography is a marathon not a sprint, and it takes a lot of time and dedication. You have to be willing to sacrifice a lot of things normal people enjoy.

Do you ever regret things you’ve photographed?

I do not. I do, however, look at the ones I don't love as learning images. You have to try things to see what you like. It took me years and years to find the camera film lighting combos that really would give me what I saw in my mind. There are some I look back on and say, "what a difference years can make."

Are people’s reactions to your art still important to you?

A compliment and an insult are the same thing, the insult just takes longer to write. It's nice when people feel something about a moment you create, even if it upsets them. I try and stay off the internet if possible. I only follow a small amount of people and I just stay to that. I don't really like to go looking for it, and I don't read comments. Of course I know some images have upset people, but I don't really know what they're saying. If you sit around reading that they say about you, you're not out there giving them a reason to keep talking.

How do you define success in your career?

For me, it’s all about how well I translate what’s in my mind onto the print. My work is about printmaking. I come up with ideas, make them, and then people can buy those ideas to put in their homes.

Credits: Images courtesy of Tyler Shields.


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