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An illustrated life

Former Creston native returns with gallery show at Creston’s Restored Depot

Tyler Downey adds detail on an Adirondack chair painted to look as if it's made of stone in the art classroom at Creston Community High School. Downey is the featured artist at the Creston:Arts Gallery for the month of February. A meet and greet artist's reception is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the gallery.
Tyler Downey adds detail on an Adirondack chair painted to look as if it's made of stone in the art classroom at Creston Community High School. Downey is the featured artist at the Creston:Arts Gallery for the month of February. A meet and greet artist's reception is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the gallery.

Although he has been gone several years, former Creston native Tyler Downey said he enjoys returning from time to time to give back to the town and the art instructor that helped him discover his talent as an artist.

Downey is the Creston:Arts Gallery featured artist for the month of February.

“It’s been really good for me to be able to contribute to Creston and help out with the art and return the love,” said Downey. “Bailey (Fry-Schnormeier) was just as much a counsel as a teacher to me when I was in school, so to be able to come back and give that back to Creston is just amazing.”

Travel

Downey said he was rebellious growing up, and that is something he wouldn’t want to change.

“When you’ve got that inside you, you’ve just got to let it out and follow it,” said Downey.

After he graduated from high school, Downey said he tried college, but after a year and a half, he decided school wasn’t what he wanted.

“I wanted to start traveling,” said Downey. “I didn’t have any money, so I grabbed a backpack and about $20, headed west and started hitchhiking and working jobs wherever I could. I’ve worked a lot of restaurant jobs here and there and tried to do as many art projects in between as I could.”

After hitch hiking through America, Downey said he wanted to broaden his horizons and explore other parts of the world. He traveled through South America, parts of Asia and everywhere in between, stopping just long enough to earn money to move on to the next place.

Of all the places he has been, Downey said Nepal holds a special place for him.

“When I first left Creston and had $20 in my pocket, I said, ‘Someday, I’m going to go to the Himalayas,’” said Downey. “I was so hell-bent on it, and now, I can’t believe it was so easy to go there. It’s different. The people are different. It’s very special. It’s very dirty in the cities but the people are so sweet and welcoming and inviting. I feel like that’s something that’s really faded in the larger countries like the United States, at least in certain areas.”

Downey said typically he only stays in one place for two or three months, but recently he had a five month layover in New York City and before that, he had spent five months in Berlin.

“My wife had always wanted to live in [New York City],” said Downey. “I loved it. I think everybody should go and see it, however, working and living there is crazy. It’s a really special city, but working there it starts to strain and being nature people, we were like, Okay. Back to the trees.”

Tyler’s art

Downey said he struggled with the idea of originality when he was younger and believes that all art starts with stealing from favorite artists, failing to replicate it and finally creating something original.

“My ideas come from thousands of other ideas, now even easier to find through the internet,” said Downey. “Sometimes it’s even just junk art that some guy made in a little shop. Sometimes you see little odd things and think, ‘I could tie that into my style a little bit,’ and I try to keep an open mind and anything I see I try to apply.”

Downey describes his art as linear and said he was influenced by the Disney animation he watched growing up as a child as well as Japanese anime and graffiti art. For a while, he was obsessed with “old school” pen and ink cross hatching.

Some of Downey’s pen and ink illustrations, which he created for a client in Berlin, will be highlighted during the February gallery show.

Whether he’s drawing, painting, playing music or making random craft projects, Downey said he creates something daily.

“As long as I can create something out of nothing, I’m a happy camper,” said Downey.

Downey has recently taken a step into the world of animation.

Downey has been practicing with one of animation’s industry standard programs and is enjoying watching his art move.

“I grew up with a lot of Tim Burton films, a lot of claymation ... I really loved James and the Giant Peach. It’s one of my favorite childhood films, so that has been really inspiring for me. Having a lot of Disney animation in my childhood as well. I realized that making some of my illustrations, I was always trying to make them move.”

Visitors to the gallery can meet and visit with Downey 6 to 8 p.m. Friday during a reception at the Creston:Arts Gallery, located on the first floor of Creston’s Restored Depot, 116 W. Adams St.

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