Briefly describe the work you do.
My work is, in the broadest sense, about technology and the future. I’m simultaneously fascinated with and alienated by the rapidly evolving technological landscape we inhabit, and that tension informs my art. My recent works are mixed-media relief pieces that originate as digital designs and are executed primarily in plexiglass. I consider them a kind of creative future studies, a speculation about where we’re headed that draws on science fiction and past generations’ visions of the future.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
I’ve long considered myself an artist but have taken a number of hiatuses from making work, which have influenced me to varying degrees. I studied Russian and Russian politics for several years, which was fascinating in that the Soviet Union always struck me as a massive and tragic art project. The early Soviet leaders had a belief in an idealized future society which I still find weirdly compelling. More recently I’ve been working in the architectural industry, which has opened my eyes to a number of design approaches and fabrication processes I use in my own work.
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
I have a day job so my studio practice revolves around those time constraints. Though the bulk of my work usually occurs outside of my studio. My pieces are designed in Illustrator and undergo an initial fabrication stage at an architectural model shop, where I use a laser cutter and other tools to translate digital designs into physical components. It’s only at that point that I move onto the studio, where I’m essentially assembling and painting a pre-designed kit of parts.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
My creative practice is funny in that it’s made me a dilettante in a range of niche subjects. I’m often experimenting with materials and concepts about which I have minimal technical knowledge. As a result I find myself doing Google crash courses, researching manufacturers and suppliers etc. There are times when I’m haggling for bulk discounts on craft items or peppering specialty manufacturers with odd technical questions that I just stop and think, how did I get here?
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?
I was reading about chronotypes recently and realized I don’t actually have a more productive time of the day. I seem to be equally efficient/inefficient at all hours, so I’ve always tended to work whenever time permits. Light naps and hypnogogic states are useful in terms of generating and visualizing concepts, but otherwise it’s hard to predict when an idea will arise. Lately I’ve started using Evernote to keep a running tab of potentially interesting ideas, which I use to create a prioritized list of new works.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
Up until about 2-3 years ago, I was very focused on creating a cohesive series of works. I had a particular set of parameters I was working within, and I was trying to stretch that design language to a kind of logical endpoint. Since then I think my work has become more experimental and conceptual. I’ve been exploring unfamiliar materials, techniques and technologies. And my practice has become more conceptually-driven, emerging from thought experiments or research rather than sketches. But the interest in technology, future studies, science fiction and related themes has remained a constant.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
I was lucky to grow up in a very artistic home. Both of my parents are involved in creative fields and have always been very supportive of my artistic inclinations. Another influence has been my wife, a poet and writer who has collaborated with me on several projects and encouraged me to forge my own path. These immediate influences have had an impact not so much on the type of art I’m making, but on the more fundamental ability to pursue art in the first place.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
I’m a bit of a magpie when it comes to passions and interests and constantly find myself pulled in multiple directions. Russia still fascinates me despite its apparent disconnect with my creative practice. Architecture is another field of longstanding interest, as are advances in computer technology such as artificial intelligence. I’ve always been drawn to artists on the periphery, whose frame of reference is a discipline or field other than the visual arts. So I try to be open to outside influences and ideas, and try not to worry about whether those interests necessarily converge.
Tyler Bohm is a mixed-media artist who spent several years working in the architectural industry, where he adopted the tools and techniques of digital and physical modeling to create digitally-based sculptural works. The resulting artistic process, which involves traditional approaches such as painting mediated through a range of design technologies, is reflective of the technological themes explored in the work. He attended Kenyon College and Oxford University, and is based in Columbus, Ohio.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.