The RWTB Flatground Entertainment CEO Dave Tyson Interview
The RWTB Flatground Entertainment CEO Dave Tyson Interview
Who are you? What are you doing here?
I'm David Tyson. ‘Nice to meet you. I'm an artist. My name is psycho.’ Yeah, trying to draw some shit.
I'm loving this new oval world that you live in. It's not as simple as it seems, but it's a lot of ovals and basic shapes. Are you making deliberate choices here, especially with the colour palette you’ve chosen?
I never liked to use colours before, always just got on with pen on paper. I recently began picking up on Photoshop during lockdown and really started experimenting with colour. I just sort of went from there, and then I no longer did line work. It just all became like a shared work shape it developed into its own thing but I like the term oval. The oval world yeah. I don't know if I went from drawing lines and doing line drawings of people to oval drawings of animals. I’m just using all these colours that I've always liked and never even considered using them. I've gone from Black and White to ‘right it's got to represent the mood and the feeling’. I think it's all maybe subconsciously coming out rather than a planned thing. At university and in college they talk about the colour wheel and what colours work and it always fascinated me. How these colours provoke emotion and how they work together, you can't like clashing colours and the experience of the viewer to see non-colours.
Did you see colour as something that was unaffordable? Or are you just at the point where this is my ‘style’ moment?
I guess I didn't know how to access it. At College I remember we had to do this practice where you take a famous painting and reverse the colours using the wheel. I took The Scream (Edvard Munch) and then flipped it. So I had to repaint the Scream at 16 with all these weird colours. I guess now it just wasn't my style. I was kind of strictly a fine liner pen guy with a nice bit of paper and then yeah, like I say, Photoshop came into my life and I started getting really involved with it. It has opened up this whole new world of opportunity because I think every shape is exactly how I like, I get this immediate hit with my art and be like, right, I'm gonna draw a dog. Right? Here's a two minute drawing on the dog or whatever. I'll throw it away if I'm into it, whereas on Photoshop, I can spend hours drawing the same character, you can just raise it and it's nothing or you can just like rejigger it and just morph it into whatever you feel like. I think it's the opens up a lot of opportunities also I also love the collision. I'm kind of only a Photoshop guy, it's fun. It's good to experiment though I don't think it's healthy to pigeonhole yourself. If you're not feeling drawing, maybe take some photos, or if you can't skate maybe pen something. It's all relative and influential of one another, I guess.
As part of this new style you’ve added lyrics to the imagery. What's the desire for that? Does it spring to my mind to support the work or the opposite of ‘I've been listening to this album, this is my new picture’?
I guess I'll session, a band or particular album, or even one song and they'll be one line that sticks in my head. ‘Whoa, this is so weird how it kind of relates to my life right now’ or like something will happen. Sometimes the work adds to my memory then that reminds me about this song and this lyric which then the visuals that come into my mind with it. A good example would be for the design I did for RWTG recently, ‘The Diamond Sea’ by Sonic Youth talks about men not being alone, I really liked the community RWTG, girls were underrepresented in skateboarding now there's this whole host of girls skating and I'm just like ‘they're not alone, they are together’ and that particular song was playing in my head. Mushrooms were around my head at the time, my brain went straight to ‘they're all together and they grew together’ alot like all these girls like forming their own scene and growing together in the UK. I don't know how the human world mimics the natural world and how it all just sort of looks like this whole thing.
I've been thinking about it quite a lot. It's like a balance between nature and music. I listen to music, and then the lyrics will become subconscious thoughts. Just sort of like it comes together. I never tried directly referencing the music, but it definitely has a big influence on this. Matt Rodriguez goes on about how sometimes when you skateboard you feel like you've created a beat and sometimes when you create a beat it's like mimicking skating. I feel like that, not just with skating but with art too. You can kind of like the lyrics that inspires everything which visualises with art.
Speaking of M-Rod, what's the deal with the Ipath Promo? Why do you think everyone likes it?
The promo is timeless…everything about the Ipath promo is timeless, the clothes, the music and it came out in 2005. It could come out tomorrow and still have the same hit. There's nothing like it, it's not a statement, the video was just like pure skating, ‘this is what we do, this is how we do it.’ It really is its own thing at the same time, it's a proper movie, which captures a moment in time.
I watch the Ipath promo all the time. We've got like three copies of it in our house. It represents skateboarding to me. It’s something I think I reflected on a lot quite recently, when I was kind of maybe over-skating, I had to ask myself what is skateboarding for me?
Skateboarding is an amalgamation of Ipath, New York skating and my friends. I want that energy back. Come back, but I don't know if you love it. "Let it go”.
I love it, let it go! You studied at the Leeds College of Art which is now Leeds Arts University how did you find your educational experience did it help you build towards an art career or the opposite?
I think it was in high school, I realised that I was only into art. I hated all of the lessons to a certain degree. I had an interest in Maths and Physics because they were so logical, and the subjects had definitive answers to them. There's no creative freedom in mathematics and physics, I guess maybe I'm ignorant saying that. Nothing else gave me the same feeling as producing art. My art tutor at school was incredible and so gifted, he soon made me realise I wanted to do art. I did end up going to the Leeds College of Art, I had a really good time there. I completed my degree but it kind of bummed me out after a while and I sort of over art. Having to explain your art all the time bummed me out, I didn’t always know why it happened and it felt like a lot of the grading scheme was more on the theory behind what you're doing rather than the actual finished piece. That wasn't what was important to me. It's nice to talk about work, but it shouldn't be how it's graded but because it's all subjective.
Did you feel as if you were proving to someone why your work is more important or even better than someone else's?
Yeah it did, why should I get a worse grade because something came to head differently? I took a bit of a hiatus because I was over it. The work naturally found its way back into my life again, and started doing some designs for skate shops and other stuff. I regret not using the facilities that the college or the Art University has because we did have some incredible facilities and I was maybe a little narrow minded just with my little pen and paper work but the college is dope. I think it helped me realise what I wanted out of art and I didn't care as interesting as it is. I didn't really want to explain it. I just wanted to do it then I just carried on doing it.
You touched on working with ‘skate shops and stuff’, were you deliberately going freelance? What different work within skateboarding or even outside of skateboarding have put out? If so, is there any earlier work that you did we may have missed?
At first answering that I thought the only piece I've done outside of skating was work for Nation of Shopkeepers. I’ve put together merchandise for local legend Serious Sam Barrett, at one point I was doing movie posters for the Hyde Park Picture House too…crazy. Skate Shop wise, I've actually done more than I thought, Andy at Endemic hit me up, yourselves too obviously and freestyle in Newport. That one was dope it came out 10 years later haha. I'm always juiced on doing little bits for independent shops. Most recently I did a piece for Vague Skate Mag which was like a dream come true and the RWTG stuff I mentioned. I'm really happy to be a part of this community. Leeds is a beautiful scene, I realised that at young age I’d never be this a big sponsored skater but I managed to use art to help push my skateboarding in a different way.
I should totally speak about Ben Powell as well. Ben Powell hooked me up big time. He let me do an article and some illustrations every month in Sidewalk and that really helped me out with developing skills and learning how to be an adult about art as well as write. He was running this big skate magazine and allowed me to just do some sketch journalism. I look back on those articles and I'm like ‘man, you're a bit of an asshole’ he gave me totally free reign. That was definitely a big moment in my life having my work published in Sidewalk Magazine.
How does the RWTB product work? Does that come under the banner Dave Tyson artist or is that a separate person?
I have my personal work for sure and RWTB is kind of separate. I don't know if it's my ego or whatever, but I'm aware my own designs are the beauty of bootlegging alongside some cool shapes. The work is personal to me and I won’t wear it haha.
RWTB stuff is my kind of stupid, niche, ‘in jokes’ within our little scene or just be silly spit-balling with the boys. Ideas for that happen best when we sit together and we might be watching some dumb B-movie and oh my god we’ve got to rip that for back of a shirt. I wouldn’t like to see it become a brand. It's too loose with Sam, Jo, Martyn, Adam, myself or literally anyone will do stuff too and it gets called RWTB.
Is there a dream brand or anything outside of skateboarding you would like to on?
I've got a bit of an obsession with blue food. So if anyone wants to collaborate on something like blue food. A skate shoe is for sure on top of my list, if Ipath comes back I want to make a shoe with a tongue stash pocket and then it comes with some blue food in the stash pocket. A Half Cab with an Ipath Cat. I remember when collaborations first started coming out and it was this big thing and now everyone does, it's just not that special anymore, which it’s just kind of sad. The Girl x Antihero tour or the AH x Vans stuff was on a different level. I think collabing with non-skate things is way cooler, someone should make some crisps.
You’re pretty elusive and you either go full ham or nothing at all with art. Does that mean there's zero plan for 2022?
I want to do maths haha, the plan is to do more stuff but just organically. I’m going to let it all come naturally, if I put too much into it I’ll begin to resent it all over again. I have to sort of let myself be in some situation where things just happen organically. I’ll want to make a hoodie then I've done a hoodie so I'm happy with that, next thing I'd love to do is board. I’d do a board graphic for literally anyone.