Featured Artist Friday with Tyler Nail, Pt. 2
Before you start reading this, there's a part 1 to this interview! If you haven't read that yet, you definitely should. We left off last week with a story about dogs shitting on stages. Today we pick up with Face Paint Magazine, one of Tyler's latest projects.
Maria: Yeah that’s pretty bad. Okay so Face Paint! The way I see Face Paint at the moment, is like a sort of collaborative media magazine, very arts based. But how would you describe it? And can you tell the audience what it’s about?
Tyler: I mean, what you just said is pretty much what it is. It’s a community of artists that are using different types of media to create an online magazine as it is now. The ultimate goal in the future is to let that evolve into being an actual production company in Winston-Salem. It isn’t that yet, so it’s more appropriate to just refer to it as an online magazine. There are a lot of media sources in town that aren’t arts based. They’re what I would call faux-journalism or soft journalism. And it’s not that they don’t serve some kind of good, because people like, for some reason, to flip through a catalog that’s filled with local ads and it says “hey we did a little interview with the girls that work at this salon,” and that’s not evil, it’s fine. It’s not very explorative in the intellect and that’s what I crave. So I figure, there’s gotta be a void in Winston then.
Maria: It’s really funny you say that ‘cause I’ve been thinking a lot about content creation lately. Anyone can create content and you’re free to create whatever you want. But when you can create anything, why create mediocre, you know? I don’t know if that’s pretentious of me to say.
Tyler: No, I mean, I agree with that. I’ve often told people if I thought anybody was better than me at something then I would have to change my approach. I try to make it a point to at least feel like I like my shit better than what other people are doing—the people that would be compared to what I’m doing. I think it’s kinda good to have a sense of—I wouldn’t call it pretension—but arrogance or confidence. Just try to make the best possible shit you can.
Maria: Yeah, totally, it’s almost expected to not be proud. People will call you arrogant with a negative connotation if you’re “too proud” of your stuff. But why shouldn’t you be proud if you’re making cool stuff, right?
Tyler: People do tend to prefer the word proud, I prefer the word arrogant.
Maria: I love that. So, what drove you to create Face Paint Magazine?
Tyler: The number one thing was that I had an idea for a project called “Faces,” and I pitched it around to different media sources and it didn’t fit the description of faux-journalism. I was like, “well, I still think this is valuable to do.” My first instinct was to just put it on my music website but it just didn’t really make sense for it to be on tylernailmusic.com. And then the photographer I was working with said, “Why don’t you start like a blog thing/online magazine thing?” And I thought, “that’s a good idea!” And that’s what I mean by “I felt like there was a void.” I looked around at the sources that I had for publishing this material and there just were none. I thought, “well, there’s bound to be a ton of other project ideas that don’t have the ability to produce through The Relish, or The Journal or Triad City Beat, or any other place.” So that’s where the need kinda came in.
Maria: That’s great, because that’s where I fell into Face Paint. You kinda created this little space where I could do my own thing, and that’s amazing! I hope that all the people we’re collaborating with sort of have that same feeling.
Tyler: I hope, ha.
Maria: I mean, you know, I wasn’t practicing my art, as I probably should, and this was a great way to make sure I’m doing the thing. I feel that so many artists here in Winston have full time jobs so that they can make a living, and it’s hard to dedicate time to your art when you’re always so busy. In a way Face Paint Magazine is like “hey here is a place, now go make something and it’s gonna live here.”
Tyler: There are two writers that write for us—I knew they wrote every day and that they’re kinda gifted. I know one of them works at a restaurant, one of them works at a coffee shop, and they won’t get published locally anywhere because none of the sources give a shit. But I do believe people give a shit, and it seems other publications give a shit. The guy that works at a restaurant has an agent that gets him published in other magazines, so I thought, “why the fuck don’t we have one in town that cares for these types of work?” It’s a good starting point, there’s just a long fucking way to go.
Maria: Yeah, but even in it’s beginning stages, I think it’s super cool that there’s this little community centered around Face Paint now.
Tyler: Yeah, I do, too.
Maria: You’re responsible for that!
Tyler: So are the people who agreed to do it!
Maria: Well, yeah, true. Anything else you want to share about Face Paint?
Tyler: I guess there’s a theme that connects Face Paint and the music that I don’t talk much about because it’s hard to describe. Like I said, the music stuff got away from traditional thinking and romantic thinking and it ended up being this thing where I surrendered my identity as a person the most that I could to being a blank slate. In doing so I learned a lot, or at least found a lot of new positions about the word identity or the concept around it, and that has something to do with Face Paint, too. As you know, Face Paint is focused on identity in some way, and I think that comes from a curiosity of like, how much of us, generally, are just things we believe about ourselves that aren’t true or aren’t real, and how can we explore that further in this part of the creative side of Face Paint Magazine? Let’s just explore how false we all are.
Maria: It’s so true. I actually just read this thing yesterday about the perception of ourselves, and how there’s like our actual selves, our perception of ourselves, and our ideal selves. I love that Face Paint explores that. There are so many arts based magazines, and magazines about art and content, back to what we were talking about a little bit ago. But Face Paint explores the people behind that, in a way. I love people. I mean like, people fascinate me! I think that’s why I was so drawn to this.
Tyler: And that’s another part of it. This is what’s so frustrating about Face Paint—I can go down so many rabbit holes about it. It’s like, we’re so fascinated with the music that a person can create, and the movies that a person can create, all these different things—pieces of wood they can shape into being a piece of art or something—and sometimes we fail to look at the person as a created object, which they are. Anything else they create, music or structures or sculptures, are an extension of the way that person thinks and the skills that they have. So part of my goal was to draw us closer to demanding us to look at a person and say, “What decisions are you making about the person that you are? Why are you scared of Obama, or why are you scared of Trump, or why do you call yourself romantic, why do you call yourself liberal?" Because when it comes down to it, the greatest piece of art we all create is our own sense of ourselves. That’s a creativity we all participate in and no one acknowledges it ever.
Maria: Yeah. I love that, and that makes me think of your project Faces, you’re exploring all those things.
Tyler: Yeah, I just try to pry it out of people: what do you think of yourself and how do you describe yourself? I hope people get that. It’s hard for me to present it in a way that’s easy to wrap your head around unless I have a situation like this where I can talk for like five minutes.
Maria: Well, now you can just share this blog post with everyone.
Tyler: There we go.
Maria: Gotta get that self-promo. I’m just kidding.
Maria: Okay, so moving away from the art you create—very on topic, I didn’t even plan for this—what do you like doing in your spare time? Do you have hobbies? What is something you do that is so far removed from making music, or curating and making content? Like, do you like cooking?!
Tyler: I hate cooking.
Maria: I know this about you, yeah.
Tyler: Really, one of my biggest hobbies is watching religious debates. I kind of like Christopher Hitchens or Sam Harris and watch them debate people like Dinesh D’Souza or preachers that wrote books like I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. That’s where I spend a lot of my pure down time.
Maria: I mean, we’ve had a lot of talks about religion—and lack thereof—and the problems with it and everything. It’s definitely a fascinating subject for me, too. I don’t think I spend as much time—or maybe I don’t do as much research as you do?
Tyler: Yeah, I mean, I just listen to arguments. There’s research I could do in the world of like biology or evolutionary biology, or other theories that are involved with the downfall of religion, but I don’t really care about them as much… I do care about them, I’d like to know more, but I’m more fascinated in just the logical circles that religious and non-religious people can go through to disagree with each other. That’s like the only hobby I can think of right now!
Maria: I think I know the answer to this but I want to ask you anyway. Does this hobby of yours, or this fascination of yours, seep its way into your art? Do you take inspiration from it?
Tyler: Yeah, for sure. Yeah. Which also goes to what we were just talking about. People could see what I’m doing with Faces and say, “Oh, you like making a project that does this. You like to document people’s conversations.” But really, if you look at that hobby, and the music that I’m making, and Face Paint Magazine, and my project Faces in context all with each other, they all make sense of me, almost certainly.
Maria: I mean, yeah, it’s like little parts of you—little extensions of you, as you were just saying.
Tyler: Exactly. So yeah, the religious stuff is definitely working its way into the literature for sure, because it’s like… you know, I write songs that are in a narrative voice. So I’m telling these stories and I’m using language in a very intentional way to evoke reaction. The reaction is supposed to be to question how it relates to religion.
Maria: Good. What does a typical day look like for you? What happens in a day in the life of Tyler Nail?
Tyler: A lot of days start with me immediately furious at my roommate for being too loud, stomping up the stairs or slamming a door--
Tyler: --waking me up at like 8:15 in the morning when I’m trying to sleep ‘til like 9:15 or something. So then I’m mad and then I drink coffee and smoke cigarettes and listen to some sort of video while I’m either getting ready to go to a/perture or getting ready to do something else. I mean, that’s like my day on repeat. If I’m not at a/perture in the morning, which is only two days a week, then I have the first half of my day to be at home and edit video and listen to songs and play guitar. Then my night might be at a/perture. Or, if my morning is at a/perture then my afternoons are followed with meetings like this, coffee, running home to try to do those same things like edit video, write, do things for the magazine. My days are just a fucking blur right now.
Maria: Same, but I feel like sometimes when you think about it it’s a blur because it’s so repetitive. Sometimes you’re like, “I’m all over the place! Things are so busy!” But it really is just this weird sort of cycle. And you actually don’t even live in Winston.
Maria: You live outside of Winston, which is insane because you spend so much time here.
Tyler: It’s a whole hassle. I live in Rural Hall.
Maria: And that’s like a conscious, intentional decision you made, or is it more like, you just happened to end up there?
Tyler: Well I lived in King before, which is even further out. So the drive itself has never felt like much because I used to drive from King to Winston to get to school.
Maria: That’s crazy!
Tyler: Yeah, the school I went to was on Patterson Avenue, like on North Side? Basically where Akron Drive is, and I lived in King. So I mean, I was driving all the way down there to go to school every day. So yeah, the distance didn’t seem like much to me. The rent was good, the spot is beautiful, but also it was just like… my roommates tend to not feel this way, but I like being downtown when I mean to be, but then being able to leave when I don’t want to be.
Maria: Yeah, ‘cause you can always get here, but if you live here you can’t just remove yourself. I totally get that.
Tyler: Yeah, I live in the fucking woods, like legit woods. So I kinda like being able to escape there and not have to see anybody if I don’t mean to.
Maria: I don’t know if I could live in the woods but I like removing myself sometimes as well. Two things left that I really want to cover. How do I word this? We all make mistakes right? We’re all flawed.
Tyler: They call it original sin.
Maria: (Laughs) I know one of my biggest mistakes regarding my art is grabbing hold of something that I was really unsure of, that being sound design, and then forgetting about all the other things I really enjoyed doing, like making art. I did visual arts literally my entire life and then I stopped doing it for four years because I was like, “I’m going to do sound design now!” I think that’s one of the biggest mistakes I personally could have made. Do you have any mistakes you’re willing to talk about?
Tyler: I mean, the same thing you said, really. When I decided to pursue music at nineteen, it was sort of like, okay that’s what I’m going to pursue. It wasn’t that’s one thing I’m going to pursue. It was just like, I’m going to put everything on that. It wasn’t until I was like 25 or 26 that I realized what pressure I felt to satisfy other parts of what could be my vision if I meant for it to be. So I was like, “why didn’t I do any journalism? Why am I not doing that, I’m interested in all these film things, I’m interested in screenwriting, why am I not doing these things?” And it was just a simple matter of deciding to do them instead of not do them.
Maria: Yup. But don’t you also feel that there’s societal pressure on finding a career path and sticking with one thing?
Tyler: Oh for sure. I wonder if, I don’t know, do you think that’s a millennial thing that’s going on, where people are losing that perspective?
Maria: Yes. I always think about how in the past people worked at their jobs and careers just as a way to make a living and it didn’t have to be this thing that they were passionate about; whereas now we have the privilege of having really cool creative jobs that are available to us. It’s also very widely accepted to work in the arts now. I know I clung on to this “I need to be passionate about my career because I’m going to be doing it for the rest of my life” thing. And I thought, how shitty would life be if I was working somewhere doing something that I wasn’t passionate about? And I see on Twitter especially, and just in the internet world, so many younger kids and kids in high school who feel this immense pressure to know what they’re going to do for the rest of their lives. With school being a huge part of our trajectory, you feel the pressure to make a decision, but you also don’t want to make the wrong decision.
Tyler: I relate to that a lot. I remember growing up, that was a thing. I remember my grandpa, one of the last conversations we ever had I think he was just like, “You gotta go into a medical field! You gotta find one thing and like really get into that groove.” And I don’t know what that is, I don’t know what that’s attached to. I think it’s an interesting time right now because so many people are so multifaceted and that’s how I prefer to be.
Maria: Same, absolutely. It’s so hard for me to say, like when people ask me what I do for a living and you have to describe yourself in a sentence, it’s so hard for me to be like, “I’m a theatre sound designer,” because, like, I’m not. That’s just a job I do, that’s not me. But then I feel like I can’t just say, “Well, uh, I like to paint, I blog, I like to mess around on Logic, and I also happen to really enjoy movies,” you know, that’s ridiculous. If there was a job where I could just dabble in a little bit of everything that would be my dream job.
Tyler: “I’m a dabbler.”
Maria: “What do you do for living?” “I dabble.” I’m gonna start saying that.
Tyler: That’s actually pretty good! “I’m an artistic dabbler.”
Maria: Last thing! Where can people find you on the internet and such?
Tyler: Hmm. Craigslist, sometimes.
That sums up my interview with Tyler! It was a pleasure to just sit down and talk for a bit. Hope you enjoyed it! Be on the lookout for the next Featured Artist Friday in the next month or so.