Tyler Shields, a highly artistic but controversial, celebrity photographer, has established a secure spot in his profession and in Hollywood. Originally a professional vert skater, Shields made appearances in the X-Games and toured with Tony Hawk prior to entering the art industry. He started as a director for music videos and then began to work with photography. Shields is known for video portraits and capturing images in an art form. Concentrating on the importance of art and visual stimulation, Shields directs the focus on his images on literal depictions of what the world faces today. Often receiving criticism for his controversial images, such as his use of blood and endangering the lives of his models, Shields manages to always stay true to his passion and his beliefs. He has the power and ability to create pieces that make the viewer stop, think, and react; a valuable gift for an artist to possess. Lively Magazine approached Shields for an interview to gain insight on his successful career and his thoughts about the controversial “Birkin Bag” shoot.
What made you decide to trade your professional skating career for photography?
That is a young man’s game, my body could not take it anymore.
Which photographers or artists have inspired you?
I did not know who any photographers were until I was already making a living at it. I enjoyed a lot of movies when I was a kid but I think inspiration comes from life; the more you live, the more you want to create.
You have built a large network with celebrities such as Lindsay Lohan, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, and Mischa Barton. What advice can you offer to aspiring photographers who are just starting out?
Trust is your greatest currency. People have to be able to trust you, they have to know they can follow you off a cliff and you won’t lead them to their own demise. Art is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time to “make it”.
How do you come up with all the creative themes for your photo shoots and where do you draw inspiration from?
My mind! I just see the world a certain way. When I did the Mischa shoot, I watched her eat a burger at In-n-Out and I was like “That’s it, she needs meat!”.
Your photos are provocative and daring, but some people mistake them as offensive. Have you ever done a shoot that you regretted?
No, I regret nothing. If something I do upsets people, that’s on them. Not me. I know my intentions as do the people in the photos. If other people don’t get it, we have nothing to do with that.
Have your appearances on the reality TV show, “Mrs. Eastwood & Company” changed your career in any way?
Looking back at the burning of the Birkin bag shoot with Francesca Eastwood, did you anticipate that it would bring such media outrage?
I knew some people would be upset, I did not realize people would be upset at her. It’s not on her, it’s all on me. It’s my idea and my bag so if you are going to be mad at someone, be mad at me… I will say though the people who got it LOVED IT!
Part of being an artist is having the ability to evoke emotion, but how do you cope with negative feedback from some of your controversial work?
The people who get upset are more emotional than the ones who don’t get upset. Honestly, this is part of it. If you want to make an omelet, you can’t be scared to break a few eggs. I am all for feedback because as much as there is negative, there is way more positive but that’s not a story. A headline will never read “Millions Love it that He Set a Birkin On Fire”, so I get it people love outrage. They love to talk about how things piss people off.
You just came out with the book “Richest Man” last month which is a prequel to your previous book, “Smartest Man”. What made you decide to write these novels and do you plan to write another?
I have written 6 now! I started writing them and just having my friends read them and the response was so incredible. They convinced me to release them so I did, hopefully I will turn some of them into movies!
What upcoming exhibitions can we expect to see your work in next?
Moscow in July and then I am not sure. I am doing a movie at the end of the year so the next gallery may have to be next year, that being said I would love to do NYC soon.