For Summer 2018, our friends at Slowtide partnered with Ty Williams, a mixed media artist focused primarily on the sea and coastline as his subject (as well as a two-time collaborator on our Juxtapoz Surf Craft benefit). As Ty was en route to the Greenroom Festival in Yokohama, Japan (which we also attended), when Slowtide sat down with him to discuss the new beach towel collaboration, featuring a premium 30'x 60', 100% cotton towel with Ty’s fish print, as well as his various inspirations, including how surfing has made its way into his creative process. Get the towel here, slowtide.co. (sponsored)
Slowtide: Can you tell us a bit about where you are from and how you got into art?|
Ty Williams: I am from Maine but have spent some of my childhood in the Caribbean and Florida. (The winters in Maine can be brutal and my parents were always bouncing around)- both of my parents are very creative (in fact far more so than I am) so I didn’t have much choice than to draw or make stuff because the TV being on wasn’t much of an option.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I love the past: roots reggae, 1960's European design, the ocean of course, Japanese culture as well as friends that are also involved in the creative world. So many people I feel are so cagey to admit that we all are influencing each other when I feel like it’s impossible to not be inspired or influenced by fellow artists. I’m fortunate to get to travel a fair bit and also have really creative peers so I feel like this plays a huge role in my work.
How do surfing and beach culture relate to your work?
If I’m not sleeping or eating, chances are that I’m at the beach or trying to be there in some capacity—I feel like the beach and it’s surrounding culture is where I feel the most healthy. And I tend to make more work when I feel good.
What are you trying to communicate with your art?
Honestly I think I’m really only trying to have a pleasant time and make some things that not only I enjoy but that others may enjoy as well, and at the same time not step on anyone’s toes too bad and be kind in the process- There are so many talented people in this world making great visual stuff that I feel fortunate that I get to have a little place in it at all.
What role do artists have in society?
I think artists are the chaser for the bitterness we are confronted with in our lives day in day out. When I see a piece of art I enjoy I get excited and often times lifted up in some way—because I tend to like simple colorful clean work—and that work tends to cut through the daily static I feel I experience in life.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my family and friends, without my dad and my mom being supportive of me I would feel pretty lousy and I think family is important however you can get it. I also have an overwhelming network of friends that I have to pinch myself about from time to time because of how talented and supportive they are. Thanks, everyone.
You seem to travel a lot, does that help with your art?
It certainly does. There is nothing more inspiring than sitting in a stuffy fart filled airplane for a day, only to be released into another culture with a surfboard and maybe a camera or pen and paper to clear the mind.
Advice to a younger artists thinking about pursuing as a career?
Draw with your hands more! I know computers are super cool and easy, but they do break down!! it does feel good to make stuff with your hands. Save the computer for Netflix and surf cams!
Any tricks of the trade to share?
Smile and be kind, nobody likes an asshole, at least not long term anyway.
Who is your current favorite artist?
I can’t pick one but I have always been a giant fan of Keith Haring, Not just because of his simple fun linework and little human images but because of his ability to have a social commentary that I feel is so accessible for everyone. Another would be my buddy Kyle Field (Little Wings)—his work is extremely intricate and fun and I love getting lost looking at his drawings— he also can surf a softop beautifully.
Any new projects that you are excited about?
For starters, I’m looking forward to lunch, and long-term I’m picking away at being an ok lifeform and making it to my next birthday.
The Slowtide x Ty Williams is bow available at select retail partners and online at slowtide.co