Voyage LA Magazine Interview

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tyler Downey.

Tyler, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I am an animator, illustrator, and someone who loves using art to help tell great stories. As is for many artists, my story is less than conventional. The twists and turns that lead me to the place I am in today have happened so quickly that some are hard to recall.

I was born in San Diego, but my family moved to Iowa when I was still too young to remember much. Even from that age, my mother tells me I used to wake up before anyone in the house and sit at the kitchen table drawing. Although drawing in ink has become my primary medium, my biggest influences were actually claymation films. Gumby, James and the Giant Peach, and Wallace and Gromit are still among my favorite childhood inspirations. I also remember being captivated by the illustrations of Quentin Blake in Roald Dahl’s “The BFG”.

Fast forward to college, I wasn’t very happy with how life was going. It wasn’t the right environment for me, and I felt I needed a little more space to grow. I had been reading a lot of travel books and maybe listening to too many Jimi Hendrix and Beatles albums when I finally hit a breaking point and chose to leave school. I had been developing dreams of travelling for a couple of years and shortly after I dropped out, I walked into a thrift store and saw an old 70’s steel frame hiking pack that might as well have had my name written all over it. I was young and broke and a little foolish, but I knew that I needed to see the world. So, with $20 and the grace of God, I packed some camping and art supplies, stuck my thumb out, and followed my heart.

My first major stop was in Montana where I managed to get a job at Glacier National Park as a cook. This was the quintessential moment that created the ripples of connections from which I used for inspiration to continue my adventure. I found myself later living in a treehouse in Hawaii, A farm and spiritual center in Ecuador, crossing the country more than once to see parks and mountains and lakes. I met the love of my life in the least likely of places, lost over 100 lbs. in a year, and experienced how different life can be in the many odd corners of the world; Nepal, Berlin, Thailand, Australia, Egypt, and Israel to name a few. I built a tiny home for my wife and I on her family land in New Zealand and after about seven years of soul searching, personal development, and creative exploration I have returned to my art. I decided I would dedicate myself to visual storytelling and give some of my experiences back to the world.

Since then I have moved to Los Angeles to put myself in closer proximity to the animation community, while at the same time build a wider freelance clientele. My ultimate goal is to gather more creators that share the vision of spreading positive and inner shifting art so that we could collectively bring that to a larger audience.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The road has been far from smooth, but I imagine life would be pretty boring without any obstacles. The trick for me has been to see these bumps, and problems as solvable challenges. Anytime I hit a wall that makes me feel like giving up I try to see it as an opportunity to improve, a chance to become a better version of me. For me personally, the biggest challenge has been choosing a path. There are so many great roads to walk down that it can be difficult to decide which one is the best, and all paths will have their bonuses and drawbacks. I am now learning that any choice is a good choice, and the only way to truly fail is to do nothing.

Please tell us more about your art.
Illustyler was born shortly after my decision to return to my art and it has developed from freelance illustration and personal projects to now creating animated shorts, music videos, storyboards, graphic design/branding, and even mural painting! I have recently taken on a variety of creative projects and no matter what the medium or content, it is so rewarding when a client puts faith into you to help them grow their project to its full potential. It’s those moments that drive me toward constant improvement.

Illustyler specializes in visual storytelling. I really try to bring the message out however need be, I most commonly create using 2D animation and illustration both hand made and digital. As a company of one, I am most proud just to have started it! Illustyler represents the first steps taken toward creating a bigger picture than just my own.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
It’s hard to pick a favorite, but the first one that came to mind was of my brother and sister and I dancing to the ghostbusters theme song on cassette. I don’t even know if I had seen the movie yet, but we used to play it on repeat, and I remember thinking my older brother was SO cool because he had memorized all the words and I could only mumble my way through until the chorus came back around!

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