Do they teach you there?
There are tutors, who organise critique sessions and a series of lectures you can go to which are optional.
Is it not like the foundation where you go to galleries etc? Were there exams?
There were a few gallery days like that in the first year, a few big projects, for the most part however it was self led. Not a lot of art history either, maybe a critical studies lecture. They did have a guest artist come to CSM every Monday to give a lecture. Really good artists, sometimes big artists. For the exams you would make a portfolio every year at the end of the course and they would grade your portfolio for that year.
Did you do summer shows/open studios?
We had COVID in second year so we did not. We did have CSM open studios on the other years, they open up the whole university, in the summer and you can put your best work up in the studios to get exposure. It is rammed. Thousands of people go through the university. These range from families, tourists, collectors, whoever, a lot of people come it is open to the public. There is no selection process for the summer show, everyone just puts their art up in the studios. It is quite an event in itself.
Did you meet other great artists there?
Yes definitely. I would go and listen to other peoples critiques when I was not scheduled to be in. It was the most frustrating thing when other people did not come to the critiques. What are you here for if you are not going to discuss it with your peers?
How does a critique work?
It is a group of students and a tutor. Each student presents their work and the tutor would field the discussion and the other artists would hopefully engage in a discussion. The more you give the more you get. It is a reciprocal thing. If you turn up, give your time and energy and try to really understand their work and give them helpful feedback and promote an interesting conversation then you find that people do the same for you.
You must make friends on the course, on the last year you must discuss what the next steps are in all of your careers. Does CSM to give you any advice on the next stage of your career, introducing you to galleries or are you just left to do what you want?
No there was no real career advice.
You have had some success so far, being in the studio here and getting into other shows. What advice would you give others to get themselves into a position to be involved in shows, if they were in year two, how do they get into a position to get involved in shows?
Be in the studio, make as much as you can, speak to as many people as you can. It is a daunting institution that comes with a lot of hang ups. However by spending more time at the university people begin to recognise you, your face and then they speak to you and you will make connections. I got into a show in Shoreditch as I spent most days at CSM when I was not working, from morning till closing, then someone who was a tutor at CSM happened to be there, saw all my work out in the studio, wanted to work with me and offered me to be a part of the show further down the line.
For aspiring artists reading this – what is the best way for them to spend their time when joining an art school?
Spend time in the school even when you are not making works, talk with people, just to have conversations, turn up to the critiques, go to other peoples critiques, go to as many shows as possible. This is all pretty cliche but these are things that other people do not necessarily tell you when you join, which you wish you would have known at the start.
Your work has progressed a lot throughout the years there are a lot of social elements to your work, juvenile expressions in a way, youths are often grouped together in your imagery. Has your interest in social work and art merged in a way?
Not specifically however there is this idea of the humane, empathy and compassion that run through my work. There is a slippage. The slippage is through some of the precepts of what you may think of when you think of social work and then through what runs into my own practice and own motivations of making art.
Do you have empathy for the people you paint?
Not in a direct way, but the way I handle the subject matter is with empathy and that is what I am trying to imbue within the work.
If someone does not know you and saw your works, of course everyone has their own perception, however what message would you like to send across?
I am very wary of making people trying to feel certain things. I am against that. If anything I am trying to encourage people to take their time to consider things. In that way there is not necessarily a considered message, I am not trying to make people feel one emotion or another. What I am, if I am honest with myself, is trying to make people feel something, to take that bit of time and try to engage with something on a deeper level.
In my opinion the work is a capsule of time, taking the pictures, and archiving, would you look at pictures that are modern pictures too?
The original source material is all from a certain time, I try and retract certain elements to try and make them less time specific. I try and make them less immediately readable, I remove detail – I could say I demilitarise the images. I am shifting the focus, removing certain things so that other things comes to the fore.
Where is your work taking you and do you think it is heading in a certain direction?
I have no idea and I would like to keep it that way. I do not want to know what I am going to do, I enjoy the not knowing.
As we finalised the interview, we shook hands and made a joke. I left the room thinking that it was the unknowing which makes Tyler a unique artist. When he paints, he does not know where it will take him. His collected vintage photographs become his paintings, serving to coalesce the past and the unknowing future as he adds elements of soul and personality to individuals.
Tyler’s intrigue and respect for his craft separate him from the commercial artists of the 21st century and I am excited to see how he continues to develop.
Charlie Spot – January 2022