By: Portia Cole | Photo Credit: @InspireByTyler
Hailing from Chicago, Tyler Clark, 27, has been making waves on Twitter and Instagram through her mixed media 3D and 1D artwork that focuses heavily on black beauty. She’s created pieces for Chance the Rapper and other celebrities and currently has work on display at Essence magazine’s headquarters. When it comes to making sure that the black community is well-represented in a unique way, Clark has it covered. Her use of fabrics, beads, and hair has gone viral on social media.
An alumna of Spelman College and Georgia Institute of Technology, with dual degrees in Math and Mechanical Engineering, one might think that Clark’s degrees would lead her on a path toward a career in STEM, but her heart had other plans. More than four years ago, she decided to take a serious approach to her art and has been committed to her craft ever since. Recently, Clark quit her corporate job as an analyst to pursue entrepreneurship full-time through her brand Inspire by Tyler, which launched in 2016.
Q: What inspired you to start creating this kind of art? Do any other artists inspire you?
Clark: I wanted to make my work relatable and unique. In my early art days, Kevin Williams (WAK) was an inspiration and I loved his work. There’s so much emotion captured in his pieces. Dana Todd Pope and Minnie Watkins are amazing artists here in Chicago, and they are currently my mentors.
When I first started my journey, I was creating faceless paintings and they weren’t 3D. My mentor, Minnie, taught me how to properly create faces in my artwork. She helped me with my confidence to branch out.
Q: You recently decided to leave your corporate job and pursue entrepreneurship full-time. Tell me what it was like to take that leap. Were you nervous and did you have a plan?
Clark: It was challenging. It took me some time to make the decision and have the confidence that everything would be okay, but I haven’t looked back since. Since deciding to leave, my business has really taken off and my sales have increased.
My plan is to learn more about the marketing side of my business, paint more, and help my community in the best way that I know how. I’m not really concerned about myself as much. I know that I need to take care of myself, but I really want to help change our nation.
I started an inspire pool. I donate my personal funds, along with monetary donations from other individuals, and I help people with their financial struggles. I also partner with other organizations to help uplift the Black community. For example, I did a live Black Lives Matter painting during the Juneteenth 2020 Chicago march.
Q: Did you have the support from your family along the way?
Clark: Yes, for sure! My family is very supportive. They know what it takes to have a successful business. My twin brothers own and are the co-founders of ticket falcon. My little sister, Leah, is an influencer as well — LeahEssence. They challenge me to have a full view of everything and also encourage me along the way.
Q: Are you only pursuing art full-time or are you involved in other endeavors?
Clark: I believe in multiple streams of income. I have my art, but I also invest in the stock market and I have speaking engagements. I also invest in real estate. My goal is to continue to diversify my income.
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Q: What role does your faith play in your art?
Clark: My faith is my foundation. My art is heavily connected to my faith walk. My goal is to tell a story of faithfulness through my work.
I create art that is instructed by God. He uses me to inspire and uplift others. For example, I created my Prince of Peace painting during the pandemic. Naturally and understandably so, this pandemic has created an all time high of anxiety and depression amongst everyone. I created a Jesus piece to let everyone know that God is still in control and he is your peace.
Q: What obstacles have you had to overcome while getting to this point in your life and where would you like to be within the next decade?
Clark: Self-love, which is what my art is about. Knowing that the voice in me and the Holy Spirit who dwells within me, is enough even if no one sees the vision.
I see myself married with children and successful businesses. But honestly, I stopped stressing about the life that I wanted and leaned into the life that I have. Let me tell you, it has transformed in front of my very eyes! I’m super single and I’ve finally learned to embrace this part of my journey. There’s nothing wrong with not being in a relationship or married.
I stopped stressing about the life that I wanted and leaned into the life that I have.
Q: What encouragement would you give other artists and what can we look forward to in the future?
Clark: Find your own voice. If you love it first, then someone out there will love it too. With time you will get better and truly grow. Don’t worry so much about external validation. I focus on what the Lord says about me, and He loves us so much.
As for me, you can look forward to more art and less limitations.
Q: Is your art for sale? If so, where can our readers purchase?
Clark: Yes! You can purchase my art at www.inspiredbytyler.com. There you can buy original pieces, prints, bags, notebooks, buttons, etc.
Although Clark’s work tends to be heavily influenced by black women, she is also inspired by important black figures within the community. These figures include gospel singer Jonathan McReynolds, the late rapper Nipsey Hussle, the late NBA legend Kobe Bryant, and rapper Quavo. In fact, rapper Saweetie, Quavo’s girlfriend, recruited Tyler for a special project that she wanted to give him for his birthday.
You can follow Tyler Clark on Instagram @inspirebytyler