10 questions to Tiler, “the tiles’ artist” from Genoa

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Art tiles to embellish cities

By Chiara Barbagallo

Tiler is the alias with which a mysterious man from Genoa, in Italy, signs works he leaves around cities.
The ones who live in Genoa surely saw one of his works, but they can also be found in other parts of Italy and in France.
They are surreal or pop images applied on tiles and located on the greyest and most deteriorate walls of cities.
Tiler obviously chose his name because he uses tiles, but he is more than a tiler, he is an artist who chose “street as his personal gallery“.

His identity is still unknown and to maintain it untouched, this interview has been made as a digital correspondence.
Here’s the result:

1- Tiler, do you define yourself a street artist o an artist in general?
On social media I define myself in both ways, but they are just words. In my workshop I make my dreams alive, but it’s in the streets that I can have a contact with people.

2- How did you think about applying tiles on cities’ walls? Wouldn’t it be much easier to paint them?
Paint makes mess. In searching my technique, I considered that point too. Moreover, a mural must be done in place with all consequent risks. I prepare my works with calm in my studio and sticking them in the streets is easy, people don’t notice me neither when I do it in the daylight.

3- Do you just use tiles to artistically communicate your thoughts?
Ceramic arrived after many years of study and analysis of art’s world. I was searching a material which could allow me to do my creations in a unique and clean way. But study never ends: my need to express myself pushes me to search and work on all materials I discover; most of the time they are materials which I use in my everyday life, which I immediately notice for their possible utility in artistic field, like tar and foam. Tar is something special, it helps me to create three-dimensional figures giving them a special effect; for now, there’s only one painting made with this technique. Foam is another example of research I made; also in this case there’s only one artwork, a big man 1:1 which I haven’t finished yet.
During my artistic path I also wanted to find a way to create 3D figures not so far from my works. A while ago I created a head for a statue in Nervi’s parks, in Genoa, with a very involving result.
It was a tiles’ cube showing a monkey’s snout and it was put on a classical statue creating a sharp visual contrast unfortunately not appreciated by everyone. Thus, the day after, the cube was removed [edit].

4- How do you technically make your art tiles?
My work can last many hours in studio and it’s divided in three phases: shots, computer, and ceramic.
The most important phase is the preparation of the subject to put on tiles. They aren’t just simple computer compositions, but real photo collages. When people see one of my works, they see a world that is actually made from many shots carefully composed to seem something else. An image can be obtained with even 50 different pictures.
When I finish the project I put all on ceramic exploiting high temperatures and acrylic colours’ ability to attract each other.

5- Why are there many human-animal hybrids in the worlds you create?
What I create is what I dream, an ability I have always had is that of visiting worlds and knowing creatures.
During years I just had to find a way to transport into reality what I was encountering in my imagination. I always searched a way to show what I was seeing that was different from talking or writing.
I also believe that hybrids are my way of making people notice how surrounding nature is hidden in each one of us. We are a part of the planet and the planet is a part of its universe, our body has been other things or other beings and we keep this far memory hidden inside us.

6- In many of your artworks those beings are expressionless, almost apathetic, while in others screaming faces are shown. Why is there this polarized duality?
Imagination can be expressed in many ways and can show different emotions. What people see in my works is different depending on who is watching them. Each one of us has a different life experience, each one in front of an image will feel emotions born from his brain and his memories.
Faces, bodies, landscapes, all is created to make a thought alive. What is a screaming face for someone, is a singing face for other ones; I like to play with the viewers to see how they will describe my work.

7- You often use fluorescent colours or shades associated to poison, like some purple and green tones. With this choice of yours do you want to suggest ‘sick’ ambiences, dreamlike but delirious visions, post-apocalyptic and post-atomic settings…?
That’s true, often the environments inhabited by my characters can seem unhealthy, but they are just different from what we are used to see. For us, trees’ foliage is green, sky is light-blue, and sea is blue; and yet this is just our reality, what we are used to perceive. Are we sure that these colours are the same in each universe?

8- Was the use of most pop colours inspired by Andy Warhol?
He was a real master, unique in reaching people. This inspires me, his will to realize an art which could speak to people. For me he is unique but not the only one; I mean that for being creative it’s necessary to study all art’s world, to know the best techniques, and to understand all great artists, not to copy them, but for being inspired by them and most of all to be sure of haven’t copied someone.

9- How do you choose the wall and the image to attach on it?
Since I started my work in the streets, I always tried to choose walls which, after being used, wouldn’t have made someone angry. I try to avoid good looking walls and those one of private houses.
I never wanted to be hated, so I usually choose degraded areas, I try to improve a situation to stimulate passers-by and make them happy distracting them from life running always the same. Anyway, world is full of amazing walls and people to be inspired by.

10- The mask you use to hide your identity is that of a monkey. Why have you chosen this animal?
I chose the monkey because in the end is what we are: we dress good, we talk, we create, but our instincts still remain those one of our ancestors, and we don’t have to be so surprised when we show this side of us.
The society we created has its own rules, but we must not forget of being born without rules or prohibitions. When instincts take over, they can lead to a growth, while other times they can bring misfortune.

Useful links:  tilerart.com

Photo courtesy of the artist

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