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Art Watch : Ty Wilson

Art Watch : Ty Wilson

Ty Wilson is our Art Watch Artist for today. This section is brought to you by Art From Us and Divvya Nirula. The Artists we spotlight here can be from any field, across any discipline, and using a variety of media. We share here why we think they are important and worth – watching. Be it genius creators of eras gone by or the upcoming contemporary artist who is yet to have their first show. All come under the purview of Art Watch. 


Who is Ty Wilson

The evocative yet economical lines of Ty Wilsons handwork have found their way into people’s homes for many years, the story of his journey from a junior artist to a Fashion Illustrator to some of the leading publications is truly remarkable. The artist, apart from his special work is known for his warmth and extremely grounded approach to life. This has a lot to do with a childhood incident.

Born in 1959, as a young kindergartener, Ty had presented his older brother’s drawing of a blue bird as his own. It was an act of innocence and he had no idea what was to follow. His teacher was so impressed by the work that she handed him a crayon and asked him to draw another. The next few minutes for the very young Ty were torturous. He vowed never to lie and that he must learn to draw. 

 in kindergarten, his teacher was so impressed she asked him to draw another while the class looked on. Armed with a blue Crayola, Wilson stared at a blank sheet of white paper for several long, silent minutes before vowing two things: he would never again lie, and he would learn to draw.

His professional career began with Hallmark Greeting cards fifteen years later. He started as a junior artist where he was consistently required to paint from images handed to him, to mimic the styles of the original artists. This eventually caught up with Ty as he was keen to do his own work. As a part of the system he could submit his work and apply for an original post. In 1984 Hallmark turned down his portfolio, saying that his work wasn’t simply original enough and he was sent a rejection letter. A second turning point in this artist career was to occur – instead of feeling beat, Ty quietly and deliberately framed the rejection letter, hanging it over his easel and continued to create his own work.

What started as an upward journey was going to gradually reap results. In fact a cab journey ( which he claims was a luxury for a struggling artist) gave him the much needed impetus that he wanted at that point of time ass he made his way to Bloomingldales to meet the Art Director, armed with his portfolio. The cab driver struck up a conversation with Ty asking him why he was so nervous. He asked Ty to show him the paintings – held up in the rear view mirror. ”You’re pretty talented” said the stranger, and he added “Success is at the corner of hard work and preparation” 

Notable Work

Needless to say that his work struck a chord with the Art Director and he went onto work with Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, Macy’s. Ty has also done posters for several Broadway shows, as well as the revival of “Hay Fever” and the musical “Staggerlee.”

Wilson’s illustrative artwork portrays and captures a by-gone era when romance and elegance reigned. His bold, minimal line drawings elicit feelings of fun, romance, rhythm and sophistication. His art is often made up of only black and white, with just a splash of color – red lips or a red rose. He aims to create a mood with as few lines as possible.

Wilson has been influenced by such great masters as Matisse, Picasso, Ert,, Al Hirschfeld and Andy Warhol. His work is featured in two books: “Fashion Illustration” by Colin Barnes and “The Professional Guide to Marketing, Design and Illustration” by Mary Young.

Notably, Ty is particularly fond of simple and clean lines and working on simple paper with india ink and a touch of paint, with the idea of conveying a emotion or a feeling with a few strokes. Thus, making every stroke perfect and en point. His work certainly touches upon the era of romance and an elegance. The minimal lines create a mood with a heartfelt honesty. 

Ty Wilson holds the position as a trustees at the Board of Trustees at The Maryland College of Art and Design, his alma mater, since 1989. It was also the year that he commissioned the Ty Wilson Scholarship, given annually to a first year minority art student.

Currently, Ty is a motivational speaker on the subject of Art and the Business of Art. He holds several prestigious visiting professor positions, namely Parson’s School of Design, the Fashion Institute of Technology, Syracuse University.

For more Artists handpicked by Divvya Nirula – do not miss the ART WATCH

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