Tyler Coey is a 26-year-old artist from Kansas City, Mo. He studied at Columbus College of Art and Design in 2006 and he began his career as a freelance artist dabbling in many types of media, including toy design, product development, illustration and fine art.
In 2008, he founded his own toy company, MUTT, which initially focused on the creation of limited-edition custom vinyl toys. Recently, it has evolved into a lifestyle brand that encompasses a full range of products.
In 2010, he began working as a full-time illustrator and toy designer for Creative Consumer Concepts (C3). At C3, he works as an illustrator for children's marketing campaigns, as well as toy design.
Tyler Coey is an artist from Kansas City, Mo, who has shown at the Grey Art Gallery, 140 W. Fourth St., several times and will be a part of the “Remaining Relentless”?exhibition in September.
Along with the C3 team, Coey's client-based work was awarded an Addy Award this year and last year.
Coey has had artwork in several exhibitions at the Grey Art Gallery, 140 W. Fourth St., and will be a part of the gallery's "Remaining Relentless" show in September.
LAURA KNAUR: When did you first discover your creative talents?
TYLER COEY: There are pictures of me as an infant covered in paint and marker - I've been drawing well before my first memories. I was lucky enough to grow up with a mom who didn't mind me making a mess when it came to getting creative. That said, even though I always knew art was going to play a major role in my life, I didn't consider myself genuinely serious about my art career until about four years ago.
LK: How did you get started in this field?
TC: That's hard to say because it's really been in the works my whole life. I had done student shows and group shows all throughout school, but my first post-school show was what got me hooked on the gallery scene. My personal work lead to professional opportunities and I was offered an internship, which became a full-time job at C3 as an illustrator. I've never really forced or pursued a certain path, I just let things evolve and try to never turn down or miss an opportunity.
LK: How did you become interested in toy design?
TC: I have always been interested in toys -what kid isn't? - but the first time I was made aware that you could make a living designing toys was in early high school. My art teacher came and pulled me from class and told me that there was someone he wanted me to meet. That person was Jeremy Madl, who was at the time in college studying toy design. He was a graduate from my high school and had come back to visit our art teacher. It wasn't something I got into immediately afterward, but it left a HUGE impression on me. Fast forward six years or so later and he has posted up [taken residence] in a studio directly behind my mom's sign company. I walked on over one day to check it out and was introduced to the world of designer vinyl toys. I dove head first into the scene and started doing customs as well as designing production toys.
LK: How would you describe your style?
TC: I grew up heavily influenced by graffiti and street art but have since grown in my art to combine that with my love of traditional painting. As I continue to search for how I want to render my ideas and concepts, my style evolves. I'm not sure I like the idea of ever landing on a style and becoming stagnant. I find it more interesting to let my style follow my progress as a person and an artist, then looking back over it all will tell my story.
LK: What inspires you to keep going and keep yourself motivated?
TC: It's really kind of inherent; I just always have to be making something [and] always have. I find myself with more motivation and inspiration than I have time for generally. I need to clone myself so I get more of this sh** out!
LK: Any influences or anyone you look up to when it comes to your art?
TC: There are several famous artists that I enjoy looking at, but when it really comes down to it, I get most of my inspiration from my friends and the people I collaborate with.
LK: How has your experience with working with the Grey Art Gallery been?
TC: Grey Art Gallery has been a tremendous support! It's awesome to work with people who have a genuine love for what they do.
LK: What are your thoughts about the September show "Remaining Relentless" at the Grey Art Gallery?
TC: I can't wait for the show, my collective has been formed a while now, but we never have officially "introduced" ourselves. This is our debut.
LK: Would you describe your creative collective: Matthew Ryan Sharp, Yosiell Lorenzo, and Brent Nolasco? How did you meet? How long have you been working together?
TC: Matt, Yosiell and Brent were my go-to people when it came to Mutt projects. When others would flake, they were always ready to get down on something new. We all share an intense work ethic and passion for what we do, qualities we respect in each other. The collective was a way to brand projects we do together separate from mutt in a way that gave everyone equal ownership.
Work wise, we have very unique styles but they still remain cohesive as a group. I couldn't ask to work with a better group of people.
LK: What is the reasoning behind the pricing of your Mutt toy line? The prices are reasonable despite the work you put into each handmade piece.
TC: The pricing is an intentional effort to make art affordable and accessible.
Not everyone can budget in an original oil painting, but Mutt's hope is that those people can satisfy their interest in collecting art with its various lines of art related product. Everything produced is limited, carefully designed by the artist, and made with love.
LK: What is your favorite piece you've made?
TC: It always seems like my most recent piece is my favorite, so when I paint another I have a new favorite. I guess that means at any given time I haven't created my favorite piece yet.
LK: What are your goals for the future both in life and work?
TC: I have big expectations but no set plans. Where I am now has been determined by accepting opportunities I could have never predicted. I'm just going to keep working hard and stay open to what may come.
LK: Do you have any advice for aspiring designers-artists?
TC: I feel it's a bit cliche to say, but honestly just do what you love ... the rest follows. If you're doing it for anyone else, you're doing it wrong. Passion is infectious, and it gets recognized when it's genuine.