Born in Florida but growing up in New Jersey at the peak of the Street Art Movement, artist Tysen Knight (www.tysenknight.com) always knew he wanted to create art for a living. But before becoming the success story he is today with massive sales, celebrity fans and collectors, Tysen worked long hours as a barber and even dealt with a stint of homelessness himself.
Years later, Tysen finds himself now in Hollywood, California, doing what he loves for a living, while creating mind-blowing “Pop Urban” pieces that will live on forever that blur the lines between street art and fine art.
The Levity Ball caught up with Tysen to learn more about his journey...
1. When did you first recognize your talent and know you wanted to be an artist?
I notice my artistic skills around 9 or 10 years old. I used to collect baseball cards i would take my note book paper and draw my favorite players. I showed my parents and with their encouragement i knew i could be an artist.
2. Prior to doing art full-time you were a barber in New Jersey working with some celebrity clients there. How did your craft as a barber help transition you into what you do today?
Barbering help me develop and master a steady hand. As a barber you can’t make a lot of mistakes on your clients, so i applied that skill set to my artwork.
3. Life wasn’t always easy though… you dealt with a stint of homelessness while working on your craft, correct? What got you through that time / point in your life?
My stint homelessness was a very humbling experience. It taught me to appreciate the small things in life and never judge anyone. Being homeless help me focus on my art and figure out my life purpose (to help others through my talents).
4. Who have been some of your role models, both in life and in the art world?
My role models are my elders in my community, conversations with them are a wealth of knowledge. My art role models are Jean Michel Basquiat, Picasso, Keith Haring and Andy Warhol just based off what they have contributed to the art world.
5. Your art has been labelled as, “POP URBAN”… How did this classification come to be?
My Pop Urban Art style comes from using bright colors and merging fine art and street art, creating my signature artwork (Remixed Masterpiece Series) which pays homage to the old masterpieces while adding a new perspective.
6. Besides just creating art on your own, you have recently helped to mentor others in various schools. Why is giving back so important to you and helping to set a good example for today’s youth?
I think it’s very important that i connect with the youth in positive way. More importantly I want to build self confidence and inspire youth. Art has help me get through rough times and it’s important that i set a great example for the youth so they will pay it forward.
7. So, when you are aren’t working on art or helping others, what are some of your other hobbies? Tell us about the Tysen we all don’t get to see through your art…
Most people don’t know I am an award winning filmmaker. I also like to workout and play basketball.
8. You moved from New Jersey to California years back… How has the culture of Hollywood and California in general influenced your new art pieces? What do you miss from back home the most?
California has given me a different creative level of inspiration, the art culture is amazing and trendy. Fortunately I was able to get art influences from the east and west coast, which gives me a colorful versatile style. What I miss most about New Jersey is the deli style hoagies!
9. After many years of hard work, what are your feelings towards your art finally now becoming popular and recognized across North America and the rest of the world?
I’m honored, humbled and excited at the same time, feels amazing when your hardworking pays off!
10. And final question: What do you want your art to be remembered for?
I want my art to represent a time and place in our history and be a guide for future generations to draw inspiration from!