Work In Progress: Mike Tyler of MT Studio

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Artist, sculptor, entrepreneur. Mike Tyler is a self-taught Canadian artist. Since beginning on his creative path, Mike’s various styles of art have left their mark in, and on, some of the finest homes in Whistler, B.C and beyond.

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After finishing Business College in Ontario at the age of 21, Mike moved to British Columbia to pursue his interest in outdoor adventure. Using his natural desire to work with his hands, Mike turned to construction and specialized in stone work leading to his interest in stone carving and sculpting. Mike currently lives in Mount Currie, B.C., running his business which incorporates rockscape construction, small, and large scale art. By combining both of these interests he has created several public art projects that can be seen in the Sea to Sky area.

The focus of Mike’s work has covered variety of subjects over the years but tend to lean towards unique finishes that help display the subject in a simulated natural environment. Although bronze and stone are his usual medium, he has worked on many different types of three dimensional creations and loves to work on large scale projects.

IY0B7432When we checked in on him, Mike had just finished a major piece, and was happy to give us the low-down on his most recent work-in-progress.

What inspired this work?  (Was it created for anything specific? A deadline? A commission? An event? A dream? Something more personal?)

I have been doing a lot of commission work lately, which is always great to have, but now and then it is fun to just make what ever inspires you. This is one of those pieces.

I had wanted to try it for quite a while but had not been able to get the time to do so; also, I knew that even if I did get the time, it would be a big commitment and technically difficult. I wondered if I would I even get the desired result for all my efforts.

Over my career of stone carving I have developed some very unique finishes that I have never seen on any soapstone carvings by other artists before. I have created finishes that mimic, water, wood, and rock, and used them on several different carvings before, but I have never put them all together in one. This time I wanted to try to do just that. Bringing all these different finishes and colour contrasts together, where each finish or contrast meets one another, you have to make a very solid and well defined line to separate them – a technically difficult task, that if not completed properly can ruin the effect and make it look sloppy. In the end I could not resist the challenge but it did take me a year to complete while working on other projects in between.

This piece is made up of one single piece of Brazilian soapstone, except for the salmon which are carved from the same piece but are not attached.

Where is this piece headed? (Is it to be sold/displayed/gifted/shared?)

I’m still not sure where the piece is headed but it will likely be going to the White Dog Gallery in Function eventually.

For now I just want to hold on to it and try to decide whether I am happy with the results or not and perhaps take it to a few shows.

When you spend so much time on a piece it is very difficult to see it for what it really is when you finish.

It takes some time for your true opinion to “sink in” so I would like to have it around for a while before I decide on what exactly I want to do with it, and whether I want to do more like it.

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How do you hold space for, or make time for, your creative self? What’s your practice or creative routine?

I think my creative side is just something that I never even have a choice about giving in to.

Ever since I was a kid I was continually making things, “borrowing” my dad;s tools and stuff from the garage, staying up late at night building stuff in my room.

When I have worked a normal job with normal hours I just make stuff on my own when I’m not busy taking care of responsibilities.

I’m not sure if the need to create things made me a night person because that was the only time I could find after all the days normal duties were done, or if just naturally the creative process was stronger at night for me. Now I seem to only be able to do my work in the later hours of the day. I have tried to work at regular “9 to 5” hours on my art but it is impossible. I just have to create art when the inspiration comes. That usually comes in very obsessive extended bursts, but I have been able to tame that somewhat. Having a family has helped with that. That said, my family have also been extremely supportive with helping me find time to do my work but balancing everything is always a challenge.

How big an influence is this region, our backyard, the landscape and energy here, on your work?

This area has been a huge influence in my style and subject matter.

I love the way you can look at a rock from one side and it makes a perfect face then you move around to the other side of the same rock and you can’t imagine the face at all.

The natural beauty around here is so inspiring that I am constantly piling up ideas that I want to do some day.

I love the way that there is so much stunning raw beauty as well as so much that is hidden and has to be taken notice of.

As you can see in the sculpture in these photos, I enjoy carving animals, which is pretty standard, but also like placing them in their natural setting. The bear is an amazing creature but place it in the setting it belongs and it is a full picture.

I also often like to place hidden treats on my sculpture for those people that take the time to look – another lesson that I learned from our amazing corner of the earth.

Finally, not only are the landscape and the subject matter amazing around here amazing, but so are the people. There are so many talented and artistic people to share enthusiasm, inspiration and ideas with that it has helped me to grow as a person and artist as I never imagined I would.

 What do you do to recharge your creative energy, if you’re feeling writers’/artists’ block?

I do find that when I have been in the studio a lot for a few months I need to get out and just be outside. Biking, skiing, yard work, or bbq-ing with friends, doesn’t matter.

Where can people follow you, or discover more of your works?

Online at www.mtstudio.ca, or on facebook.

In the real world, some of my work is in the White Dog Gallery in Function Junction, Whistler. As well as all around Whistler… if you know where to look.

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