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Up in the "Cloudz" with Street Artist Tyler Wallach

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For his psychedelic and playful "Cloudz by Ty," Tyler Wallach printed Lisa Frank-meets-Ren and Stimpy characters on vinyl stickers and plastered them around Williamsburg and SoHo. We recently got to chat with Wallach about the inspiration behind his lovable critters, his ephemeral art, and his love of social media.

What inspired you to create this little world of creatures?
I started drawing them in college when I had a class in screen printing. We had to come up with a theme for the entire semester, sort of like our own little world that we worked on in the class. So, I decided on this idea of being a cloud. Clouds are constantly moving, and can range in color depending on the light and the sky. It encompasses color, and emotion and movement.

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There's something in the vibrant, cartoonish look of the characters that reminds us of certain children's programming from the '90s.
I can't help that! I grew up with shows like Saved By the Bell, so all those colors and patterns... [laughs]. When I was a kid, I wore Hawaiian-print lime-green shorts. It does sort of come in there whether I like it or not. There's something childish about the characters, but they can be very adult as well.

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Right, there is a kind of free love theme going on. Would you say there's a queer element to your work?
Totally. I feel like it's difficult to not have pieces of you, or your sexuality, how you feel about yourself and other people come out in what you do. The intertwining of the bodies is really important to me. It's rare for there to be two bodies near each other that aren't touching. These guys from LA, Jeremy Novy and Homo Riot, who are a part of this really big genre going on out there, they were putting together this traveling collective art show called The History of Queer Street Art. They heard about what I was doing, and I worked on them with the L.A. showing. So I sent in a few pieces and a bunch of stickers, and I went out to Hollywood and got to see the show.

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You are pretty rigorous about documenting your work yourself. How important is that for an artist today?
The whole reason I started to do street art was because I was consumed with my prospective career in theater. That was in the hands of so many other people. Directors, writers, you're constantly auditioning. I needed to have something to do that was just for me, by myself. And now it's a little bit more important to me that I document or photograph it. If you've seen any films about street art, like Exit Through the Gift Shop, you'll realize that you can only reach so many people if you don't document the art, because it could be gone within twenty-four hours. Most of the time my art is gone in a day, either by someone cleaning it, or someone taking it because they like it.

How helpful is having an online presence, then?
I think that's helpful to everyone, but I think I am uniquely lucky to be of the generation that I am. I feel lucky that I grew up with a computer, you know, even in first grade. You were already responsible for knowing so much more than your parents. It's a language that I grew up speaking. People have said that the social media behind "Cloudz" is strong, but it feels just right. If it's not something you can hashtag, then I'm not sure that half of the people I know would know what to do with it anymore.

What are you currently working on, and where can people catch your latest pieces?
Right now I am talking to some people at Viacom who are looking to spruce up some of their walls in their office with local artists. So I am in the middle of working that out. I just released a series of brand new stickers for sale online, and am also in the middle of working on sunglasses for this coming summer. I just moved to Williamsburg, so that would be a good area to walk around and see if I've put anything new out.

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