Shelflife Artist Tee Series: Tyla Mason

Shelflife Artist Tee Series: Tyla Mason

We kick off the month of October with Tyla Mason joining our Shelflife Artist Tee Series! Tyla is a Cape Town-based illustrator known for her whimsical art and serious eye for colour. Her work has been seen on wine bottles, tote bags, posters, plates, chocolate bars and now finally, a Shelflife tee. 


Read the interview with Tyla below! 

 Where did your love for illustration and art in general begin? 


Drawing has kind of been compulsion for me as far back as I can remember. I would make a lot of poorly-assembled comic books or compile illustrated reports on whatever 8-year-old me was into (Bobcats). In primary school I would pass around (unflattering) drawings of some of the teachers. One time it got back to teacher and I felt awful about it. But yes, I think a lot of adults who are illustrators have similar origin stories/love stories about drawing. 


Then, when I was a bit older, I started going on the internet and discovered sites like Tumblr, where I was introduced to a wider range of contemporary art and illustration that I wasn’t learning about in High School. That was really exciting!


 Who are some of your biggest influences? 


Rookie Mag (R.I.P) was a game-changer for me in the sense that it embodied a type of authentic creative community that I wanted to be a part of. I wish that I had Rookie when I was a bumbling teenager, but it still resonated with me in my late teens/early twenties - it encapsulated so much of my own adolescent experiences, and made me feel less alone in general. Rookie made me want to do work that nurtured teenage voices and/or made people feel connected, and drawing was the thing I liked doing the most. 


 What have been some of your highlights as an artist so far? 


One of my biggest highlights was working on a project for Springster, which is a mobile-based platform for marginalised and vulnerable girls to connect online. I started working with them after graduating a few years ago and that work has been pivotal in that it has attracted other similarly-focused clients. Malala Fund approached me based off of that early Springster work and as a result of working on a job for Malala Fund, I was contacted by The School of Life to do a project for them (which I have very recently finished) - both of which have also been enormous highlights for me!


 If you could collaborate with one artist or brand, who would it be and why? 


I’m probably going to jinx it but I would love to do work for Girls Opportunity Alliance, which is Michelle Obama’s foundation. I would also like to do an illustration for Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls if they ever were to publish another book. But if I’m going to dream big I would want to do a collaboration with Oprah. Imagine! I would have no purpose after that. 


In terms of fashion brands, I would love to do a collaboration with Lazy Oaf. Again, I think this is slightly unattainable but a girl’s gotta dream!


 How did you interpret the concept of the Shelflife "S"; into your artwork? 


I wanted to keep the graphic simple and really like drawing animals. I’m trying to resist the urge to draw cats -the S was initially a cat’s tail - but it evolved into a snake. 

 What are your essentials you use to create your work? 


My Cintiq drawing tablet is something I use on a daily basis, I don’t think it’s essential but it’s really great and has made the process much faster. My notebook/drawing book that nobody ever sees, where I can sketch out ideas. And then it’s also important to me to have stimulating things around my workspace - plants, books, ceramics, old work, art that I like, etc. 


 What would an average day for Tyla Mason look like? 


I work from my bedroom so an average day involves little to no exposure to the outside world, which I’m trying to work on. I get a lot of sleep, start the day with a coffee (boring) and then make a list of everything I need to do that day. The trick is to include EVERYTHING, so that you feel very accomplished. I’m not the best at replying to Whatsapp messages so that often makes the list. And then I spend long periods of working while listening to podcasts until I emerge from my desk in the evening. 


 Any advice to those wanting to get started in the industry and stand out? 


From my own experience, working hard, caring about your work and showing your work to people makes the most difference. And from Chris Ware: “avoid giving in to self doubt or self confidence (depending on your leaning)”.

The Shelflife x Tyla Mason Tee drops Saturday 5 October at our CPT, JHB and online store. 


S, M, L, XL 

Units are very limited! 

Follow the artist @tmuis and check out her website.