Artist and printmaker Phil Tyler is course leader of BA(Hons) Printmaking.
What inspires you as an artist?
When I did my Fine Art Degree we all did a rotation of all the three main specialist areas of painting, printmaking and sculpture. I fell in love with print and continued to make prints throughout my degree although my main centre of practice was painting. I have continued to explore print and use a wide range of analogue and digital image making techniques ever since. Photography is central to my thinking and often provides the initial catalyst for my image making. I draw and paint digitally and over the 18 months I have really explored Procreate on the iPad making about 500 digital paintings.
I am constantly inspired by other artists work and have a Pinterest resource with over 38,000 images. I sometimes describe myself as picture hungry and want to find new work that will knock me off my feet. I am really interested in contemporary figurative painting and love Hurvin Anderson, Doron Langberg, but still love John Hoyland, Bert Irvin and Richard Diebekorn. I am obsessed by colour and constantly feel that I need to push my own work much more.
In the last few years, I have focussed on portraiture including an ongoing series of self portraits which use the Edward St building as a subject.
Can you tell us a bit about the journey that brought you to UoB?
My journey to UoB is a long story. I graduated in 1986 and spent three years trying to get onto an MA in painting, and was shortlisted, interviewed but never quite made into the RCA (I was in the final 75). The RA (I was in the final 15) Reading I was in the final 3.. ..etc. I was almost at the point where I was going to give up when I met Harvey Daniels the head of Printmaking at Brighton Polytechnic (as it was then) who arranged for me to have an interview with Laurie Preece the course leader of MA printmaking.
When I secured a place on the MA I wrote 100 letters to art schools asking for a teaching job and eventually started working at Richmond upon Thames College in Twickenham. I taught printmaking and did most of my MA work at RUTC. I lived in London and commuted to Brighton for a year before moving to Brighton and commuting to London for a further 6.
Long hours of commuting translated into thousands of drawings of people. Laurie had said that ‘my drawing did not inform my practice’ but what I realised after my MA was that my practice was wrong, so I set about the journey to becoming a figurative artist in the early 90s.
With the birth of my first daughter in 1995, I focussed on looking for work closer to home and started working at the foundation course at Brighton Met in Jan 1996. There I continued to teach print as well as contribute to both the fine art and illustration pathways. I also ran the part time foundation course for 20 years. With restructuring and the threat of redundancy at the Met I wrote my first book on drawing and painting and applied for a number of jobs at UoB. I was eventually successful at being accepted to teach visual research within the Fashion and Textiles department, and after two years the opportunity arose to apply for the course leadership of Printmaking which I started in Sept 2019 with little idea of what the next couple of years would bring.
How does your practice inform your teaching?
Having taught for 30 odd years on foundation I have used a lot of my discoveries from running courses, inventing workshops etc in my current teaching.
When I finished my MA and was completely stuck with no ideas, I made work about not having any ideas. Central to this was drawing and using process. So I recognise that I am a very process driven artists and use a number ways of thinking in my teaching. Drawing is something that I have taught for a long time and I recognise that there are a lot of different ways of teaching it . How do you draw, what different kinds of drawing are there, what can you do with drawing, why are you drawing, what can a drawing be? These inform how I approach sem 1. How can a process translate an image into something new? The way a 2D images can be changed into 3D and then into 4D or using systems and rule following to generate new ideas. Playing with colour
Most of my teaching comes from things that I have done as an artist at some point and informed by the many brick walls I found myself up against.
How do you relax?
Painting, drawing, listening to music, cooking and watching a damn good film.