Artist and Activist Tyler James Patterson Unfolds His Theories on Art and Self-Expression

CEO of the non-profit social enterprise Residency, Tyler James Patterson combines the psychological power of artistic endeavours with the a business model aimed at social good. An authentic artist himself, we decided to take a closer look at his artworks along with his perspective on self-expression and working.

At Residency, Tyler’s mission is to help women transitioning out of homelessness by employing them to produce custom, branded merchandise and apparel such as hand-painted tote bags and handmade bath balms. The women are also invited to stay at the residency and are mentored in areas like mindset, health and financial planning. They receive paid yoga, and paid therapy, take trips to museums, gardens, and other venues to inspire personal growth. Residency is a beautiful, creative idea and though in less direct manner Tyler also aims to help those in need through his art work which he publishes on Instagram under the name @ty.positivethinking. Inspired by his cause and the playful aesthetic, we interviewed Tyler and here’s what we found out..


What is the explanation behind your Instagram name @ty.positivethinking?

 I started realising that almost every depiction of the future is dystopian, especially in movies and tv, and that the same was true in my own thinking. I don’t think the future will inevitably be a great place/time or that there aren’t dire issues at the present moment. Believe me, I’m far from an ignorantly positive person. But what I feel suspicious about is how all of us use certain philosophies to justify why we don’t have to take responsibility or put ourselves in uncomfortable situations. That being said, I made it my Instagram name mostly as an inside joke with myself because I walk around worrying and talking shit all day.

When did you begin painting?

I started painting last August. I’ve been working in music and audio installation for a few years, and I’ve done some design work, but I wanted to do something away from the computer after showing a music installation with Zion National Park. I’m planning on also performing music this year so I can stop worrying about that too.  

Did you attend art school?

I didn’t attend art school. I had no thoughts about art until I was about 25. I studied experimental psychology and dropped out right before I was supposed to start grad school to pursue Residency and music. It seems like art school can be really beneficial, but I think that becoming obsessed with your work and with consistently improving is what is really essential to becoming great at something. 


What do you enjoy about painting?

 I enjoy most things about painting, but I especially love oil paint. I think it’s great by itself, and it has something special about it.

What are you looking to express?

I’ve learned that the more I try to say something specific the shallower the ideas become, and the more I allow myself to not understand or plan everything out the more layered and interconnected the ideas become. I definitely want to shape it and move it toward certain ideas and meanings, so that when those meanings come together it creates something more mysterious, but I don’t usually focus on one particular thing to express. 

 Why naturalistic subjects?

I like things that are interesting and iconic in and of themselves, but also kind of hint at something hidden. But now that you mention it I should try some non-naturalistic, ugly ideas.  

What is the purpose of putting your art on Instagram and are there any negative aspects to it?

I originally put work on Instagram because I wanted to start an E-commerce site with merch and digital prints. But over time I became more interested in fine art so I’m more focused on that direction now. At this point we all kind of know that social media platforms are mostly unhealthy places to spend a lot of time on, but actually it’s been a pretty positive experience for me. I like seeing great artists of all different styles. I want to see what the best artists in the world are making.

Bridal Party

Any future art goals?

 I want to work up to large-scale projects in visual art and music that allow me to lead business and opportunity into Residency. I hope that everything I do somehow provides opportunity for those in need. And I hope to be fortunate enough to truly appreciate life and maximise my potential.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s