Artist Profile: Tyler Varsell

As Christa was browsing the web recently, she came across an old classmate’s work and we knew we had to do a feature on her. Tyler Varsell’s collages blow us away, and we were so excited to get the scoop on her inspiring work!

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A 24-year-old web & social media manager and casual artist living and working in Connecticut, Tyler graduated from the University of Hartford in 2011 with a degree in web design. She currently works full-time at an independent school, and has been working in collage and mixed media since high school. Art, while not her profession, continues to be an important outlet in her life. Her work tends to focus on themes of identity, dislocation, and social perception. To her, collage is a process of discovery and a way of questioning how we view, process, and identify the world around us.

You work with and on a variety of materials (cardboard, canvas, embroidery, etc.)– do you have a favorite combination? Lately, I really love embroidering on canvas. Embroidery is usually viewed as such a traditional craft medium, so I love when it’s incorporated into fine art. There’s so much you can do with it!

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We can tell that vintage imagery plays a bit part in your work (which we love!), where do you find your vintage pictures? Tag sales, thrift/antique stores… I have a huge collection of vintage magazines from the 1940s-1960s that are a great source of material. I’ve always really loved looking at vintage photography – a simple image can say so much about the time period and our culture as a whole while still leaving an element of mystery.

Besides art, what else do you fill your time with? I love to read and just relax at home… I also figure skate and love spending time outdoors as much as possible.

We’re all from Connecticut – how does this little state inspire you? I love the change in seasons, especially living in such a beautiful, rural area…I’m always inspired by the nature around me.

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How has your work progressed over the years? Have you ever had to change it to fit a particular mold? I guess my use of materials has changed over the years. When I first started making collages, I mostly just worked with paper, then progressed to using different materials, like cabinet card stock and canvas. I’d love to continue experimenting with different materials, like wood and different types of paint. Fortunately, I can’t say that I’ve ever had to change my work to fit a particular mold, since most of what I do is for fun, not for commission or anything like that.

Do you ever find it difficult to balance your work and your art? It definitely can be hard to find the time to work on art… fitting it in on weekends or whenever I have the time isn’t really conducive to inspired ideas, but I’m fortunate that I have a great studio space in my home where I can escape to and create!

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Inspiration can come from all over the place – memories, places, books, music – what do you find most enlightening? Music is always a must for me when I’m creating. Also, anything really visual/aesthetic inspires me: colors, shapes, patterns, great typography…I love great design in any shape or form.

Do your quirky collages tend to portray your sense of style in general? Or is it used more as an outlet to express something you may ordinarily not? I definitely tend to use a lot of my favorite colors and design elements in my work (I can’t seem to stay away from circles lately…), but I guess it depends on the individual work and what I’m trying/hoping to get across in that particular piece.

Go to late-night junk food? Pretzels, chips… anything salty!

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Night owl or morning bird? Ha, neither! I hate waking up in the morning and I can never stay up really late. I’m always sleepy!

Any advice you’d give an undecided freshman art major? Hmm… try everything! I really wish I had been able to take more art classes in college, like illustration or printmaking. Stepping out of your comfort zone is a really great way to learn, and you never know when the skills will come in handy!

Thank you so much to Tyler for her interview and the use of her amazing photographs! You can see more of her inspiring work here and here.

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