PARKWAY Artist Interview: Tyler Keeton Robbins

Tyler Keeton Robbins is a self-taught, multidisciplinary artist currently based on the unceded territory of sqilxʷ/syilx peoples in the Okanagan Valley. Always evolving, Robbins work consistently maintains a strong illustrative style no matter his medium of choice. Growing up on the Pacific Northwest, the art of the surrounding First Nations as well as the illustrated subculture of skateboarding’s second wave had a huge impact on his aesthetic as he was coming of age in the 90s. Since then Robbins has exhibited internationally with works ranging from pen and paper, paintings, and murals. He continues to explore the softer side of abstract symbolism, applying evocative form to diverse surfaces.

Tyler Keeton Robbins is one of ten artists we selected to be part of a community plan project by BlueSky Properties in Downtown Surrey called PARKWAY. Their mission is to bring community to life in Surrey, and for us, a focus on art and culture is what leads to a truly vibrant and activated community. With this in mind, we are using their new sales centre to highlight art and artists inspired by life here in BC. The first two images below were purchased from Robbins for the space. You can read more about the project here.

Booooooom: How would you describe your work to someone who has never seen it?

Tyler Keeton Robbins: With my recent work I would say I’m exploring the intersection between the symbolic and the abstract, employing gestural brushwork and semi transparent puddles that imply form and texture, using acrylics on various substrates. Also I really like black.

Tyler Keeton Robbins

What is your motivation for making things? Why do you create?

I could say I can’t imagine life without it, but one aspect I’ve been thinking of lately is the technical deconstruction of an idea. Holding onto ideas is kinda heavy. The problem solving process of interpreting through mediums what is in the mind is rewarding, and over time I’ve become addicted to the release and realization of ideas born.

Can you share a little context or a story about the artwork below?

I can’t recall much of being very young, but there is this one faded memory of finding a pearl in an oyster shell on the Sunshine Coast as a kid. I can see myself holding it between my fingers. Over time I questioned if I had made myself believe it to be real. I think this work is a good example of where the symbolic meets the abstract to tell the story of this “Imagined Pearl”.

It’s clear that living here in BC inspires you, can you share a bit about that?

There is a perennial lush feeling in the PNW that when I mediate on energizes me to create, it’s difficult to explain. In the past I’ve questioned how much my work has been informed by my natural environment. Over time it’s hard to deny the mimic of organic forms and natural palette, especially of the coast, that have crept into my work. In some ways they have been there all along, but are definitely more evident now. From a graphic standpoint, I have to give credit to the surrounding First Nations, their sublime use of space has been burnt in the back of my mind from my teens.

"Creating is a release, it can be self healing. It speaks without words and can teach us things about ourselves."

With everything that is happening virtually these days, how important is it for you to still be part of a local arts community?

I think if encouraging creativity in the world has merit, it’s especially important in your home. Creating is a release, it can be self healing. It speaks without words and can teach us things about ourselves. I feel it’s joy waiting to be released. It’s a way of balancing the negative in life and if this can begin in our community with our neighbours and friends, it has to have a positive impact.

What’s one goal you have for this next year?

To create with my family and friends more.

What about one thing you’d like to accomplish in your lifetime?

I would like to convey my ideas with sincerity to share deeper emotions, ultimately have my work contribute to peace.

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