BY CHARLIE WATSON
In our second 'Into the Spectrum', we get to talk to artist and caver, Tyler Thrasher. This US based artist works with skeletons, dead bugs and more, to create amazing crystallised pieces. You can check out our interview with him, and some of his unique work, below!
Q. At what point did you start experimenting with Crystallisation in your artwork?
A. I didn't start incorporating crystallisation or any real principles of chemistry in my work until about 8 months ago! I've always played with the idea of using chemistry as an artistic medium, but it took a while before I found a method I actually liked.
Q. Seeing that you grow your own crystals, is this something that you learnt through education, or that you took up in your own time?
A. I studied advanced chemistry (AP and IBHL chemistry) in High-school, and studied chemistry on my own throughout college these last four years, so I have an educational AND self taught background of chemistry and it's repsecitve principles and applications! Crystallisations wasn't something I was taught, as it had very little function or use within the premise of my studies. The idea of crystallising foreign objects such as insects and skulls sort of dawned on me after walking through a gem and mineral store in Springfield, MO. Like most of my ideas, a random and spontaneous chain of thoughts and tiny ideas sparked all at once, and said "Hey! You should cover dead stuff in crystals. THAT WOULD BE COOL, HUH?!" and I said, "yup."
Q. What inspires your artwork? Did you always want to be an artist or was it something that happened spontaneously?
A. I've wanted to be a professional and full time creator since my sophomore year of highschool, about 7 years ago! I even recieved my Bachelor of Fine Art degree with an emphasis in Computer Animation from Missouri State University. The big challenge though has always been, how to support yourself as an artist, and a very daunting question that looms over you during your years in college. I never let that steer me away from pursuing art full time though!
Q. Moving away from your 3-Dimensional work, and towards your paintings/drawings, what would you describe the style you work in as?
A. I would describe my 2D work as "sketchy". My pen/ ink work has always been very "scribbly" and sculptural, and I would say the same with my paintings. I've always had a love of the "painterly" look. I believe that if you're using a medium you should at least explore it's unique advantages at least a couple of times. If you're using pen and ink, you should explore the different types of line work unique to ink and if you're painting, you should be pushing those brush strokes! At the moment, I don't have a consistent body of work among my 2D portfolio. I sort of just paint/ draw what I think looks cool/good, as amateur as I know that is. Haha! I just get an idea or a piece in my head, and it usually doesn't leave until it's manifested on paper.
Q. Do you feel you take influence from any other artists, traditional or contemporary?
A. Absolutely! I've been realy big on landscapes recently, and Thomas Moran is 100% to blame for that! I try to keep those landscapes in the same realm as contemporary digital paintings however, really pushing and emphasizing the "structuralness" that brush strokes have to offer!
Q. What have been the biggest challenges you've faced whilst trying to promote your artwork, gallery shows, etc?
A. The biggest challenge I've faced with promotion, is simply getting people to care. Starting out, your friends and family are all on board, and It's amazing! However, it doesn't necessarilly get your work outside of your immediate circle. I've also had many frustrating moments trying to submit my work to galleries and shows, only to never hear back- even from ones promising a reply. That's where social networking is a life-saver. platforms like Instagram, Facebook and others allow artists and creatives to put their work and where it ends up back in their hands. Social networking allows creatives to promote themselves and sell their work to suppoters and fans without the use of teh gallery or "middle man", and I love that. The big struggle I've found with galleries and competitions is, there are too many artists competing for the same limited amount of space, which really adds an element of competition that I find incredibly silly. But when those hundreds of artists are promoting themselves on social networks, there's no competition. People will like and follow whatever they stumble upon, and they'll support whatever they like - not what's just displayed in galleries. Once you pick up a social media presence, and an amazing group of followers and supporters, the rest is easy!
Q. If you could collaborate with one artist who would it be?
A. Roger Hiorns. I would love to collaborate with him! He's a UK based artist who's famous for his installation, "Seizure" where he literally crystallized an entire UK flat! It's absolutely incredible, and I would kill to have it as my personal alchemy dungeon!
Q. What has been your favourite project you've worked on so far?
A. My favorite project so far, is a rabbit skeleton I'm currently crsytallizing. It's one of the biggest challenges I'm facing yet, as the skeleton is incredibly fragile, and the crystals are having a hard time adhereing to the surface. I also plan on growing two different kind of crystals on this compound, which means I have to pick two four different chemicals to yield two different crystals that won't react with one another, so it's gonna be tricky! But I do love puzzles.
Q. If you could work with one 3-D object all the time, what would it be?
A. That's a tough question! I would love to synthesize minerals, such as true amethyst, quartz, rubies, etc. I have a few processes lined up to test this method but it could be fairly dangerous, so I would need a lab. Once I can successfully achieve that, it could be an exciting new step in my work!