PASTICHE, HYBRIDS, AMALGAMS: Interview with Artist Tynell Marcelline
(Interviewer: Austin Eichelberger, Editor for SPACES)
Tynell Marcelline, originally from Trinidad, is a digital artist who works with photography. The tropical feel of his work is striking and original, and the stark and strong figures he creates capture imaginations, including ours. He now hails from Washington, D.C., where he slowed down for a minute to catch up with SPACES.
Austin: When did you start making digital art? Did you make art before that point?
Tynell: I started my digital journey in 2008. Before that I was a traditional artist: I mostly worked with graphite, India ink and colored pencils.
Austin: Where do you find your raw materials, i.e., the photos you then alter? What about those sources inspires you?
Tynell: I’m part of a few art collectives so I’m always surrounded by talented photographers, but most of the photos I’ve been using recently are courtesy of Kerron Riley, who is an exceptionally talented Caribbean lifestyle and fashion photographer based in Trinidad and Tobago. He’s my cousin, and he’s always inspired me as an artist.
Austin: Tell us about your process. Where do you usually begin? How do you usually find yourself inspired? What steps do you take to plan for a piece?
Tynell: I have a bit of a photography fetish, so I look through hundreds of photos daily; when something catches my eye, I either archive or start working on it. The best part about my art is that I don’t plan anything; I’m not the planning type. I don’t brainstorm or even sketch out my ideas either: I freestyle, I go with the flow. It’s like there’s an endless stream of random abstract shapes, ideas, sounds and imagery zipping through my mind like a thousand birds through the sky. I sample, shape, listen to and mold them all into art.
Austin: Your work has a very ethereal quality to it – much of it is dream-like. How does that play into your overall aesthetic? Has any particular artist influenced that aspect of your style?
Tynell: We can only see a fraction of what is going on in reality due to our primitive sensory devices, and sometimes I think my work is depicting the unseen, which is why it comes off as being dream-like or surreal. Imagine if you could see the energy of someone’s thoughts, the color of an emotion or a person’s aura; what do you think it would look like? As for my inspiration, nature inspires me. Mother Nature is the greatest artist of them all: she is art. Everything we can see, hear or touch is related to nature in some shape or form.
Austin: Some of your work also has a hard edge to it – for instance, the straight lines and bird skull in “Cosmonaut,” or the Romanesque helmet in “Negative Space.” Where do these hard edges come from, and how do you see them operating within your art?
Tynell: Some images just require different design elements; hard edges help some images stand out and evoke a sense of power, strength or boldness.
“Negative Space” is depicting how power can be beautiful when kept in balance with its surroundings.
The Romanesque helmet in “Negative Space” is a reflection of power, which can be beautiful yet elegant like the young lady. In art, white is referred to as negative space and to illustrate the contrast between negative and positive space I needed something that would stand out as a focal point, something solid like the hard edges of the helmet, which also balance the overall image.
Austin: There’s a beautiful 3D quality, like shapes and abstractions are lifting from the page. How does that idea play into your overall aesthetic?
Tynell: The 3D effect gives an image depth and makes it feel more “real,” which also helps to push the dream-like effects in my work. I’m also currently working on ways to take the 3D effect to the next level, maybe holographic pieces would be cool.
Austin: The colors in your work are phenomenal – how do you try to use color? What do you hope to communicate to the audience with your color choices?
Tynell: I have a love/hate relationship with color. I feel like it’s a distraction sometimes. But when I do use it, I prefer very vibrant, saturated colors. I use color to set the overall “feeling” of the image, which also enhances the dream-like vibe of my work.
Austin: What about the contoured lines we see? Many of them accentuate female forms – how do you think they help the work?
Tynell: Those lines help to keep the image flowing and natural. Life isn’t linear, so why should art be?
Austin: I notice that many of your subjects are female. Is this intentional on your part, or does it have more to do with the raw materials you use?
Tynell: It’s not intentional at all. Most of the photographers I collaborate with are fashion photographers, so there’s an abundance of female models, but I’m currently working on a few male pieces in an effort to balance my subject matter, so stay tuned.
Austin: Here at SPACES, we like to finish on a playful note. If you could use only one source to get photos for the rest of your life, what would it be? Why?
Tynell: I would use my mind: if I could digitize the images from my mind that would be all I need. The possibilities would be endless with such an ability; I would be able to photograph reality and my dreams (which are awesome by the way) and ultimately I would fuse my dream and reality into some interesting, surreal pieces.
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