In July of 2015, over 20 adolescent artists gathered at Artspace to become apprentices with the gallery’s Lead Artist/Artist-In-Residence, Titus Kaphar. Tyler Reid, a student of Cooperative Arts & Humanities High School, like many other apprentices in the room, was not prepared to be swept off his feet by the wave of inspiration manifested from Kaphar’s story and artwork. “Titus made me realize I could make money off of art,” Reid admitted after sharing his tale of how Artspace’s Summer Apprenticeship Program — the opportunity to meet and learn from Kaphar, a fellow artist from New Haven — pushed him to start his path as an artist and young businessman. “Titus has artwork in the same room as Basquiat. He never stops working, and never stops achieving,” Reid responded when asked about how this former Lead Artist continues to inspire him today. “Titus is the nicest guy you’ll ever meet and [he] doesn’t boast his success in any measure. Honestly, the thing that gets me to work is when I see the picture of him in front of his work in a gallery covered in paint with his jean jacket and hoodie. That [stuff] is just real. Nothing but respect for that man.”
Reid would return to Artspace as an apprentice in the summer of 2018 directly following his graduation from high school. This time to learn the ropes with ceramicist Roberto Lugo. By this time, he had gone from a medium of oil pastels on tar paper to “paintings on weird stuff,” like concrete, drum skin, household items, and found items. “Painting on found objects pushes this idea of making something yours through action, and crafting on the foundation of a particular history and story. That is when I have the strongest connection with my work. When I am working with something with a past unknown to me, something that I wasn’t looking for to begin with.”
“When I create art it is confrontational. I like to put the people of the subject, or even sometimes viewers, in the hot seat.”
Reid expanded from strange canvases to t-shirts and gym shorts as he began his clothing line SF Stands For Stands For. What inspired this name? “I was messing around in chemistry class,” Reid said. “[My classmates and I] would fool around a lot and we were making fun of periodic elements. ‘What if SF just stands for Stands For,’” He laughed. Reid also mentioned a popular question he gets from strangers about his racial identity. What are you is an itchy question too familiar to his ears. In this way, he relates personally with the title of his clothing line. What are you? Folks ask. Well, he just is. He is Tyler Reid.
Tyler Reid spoke of his first go at creating these t-shirts. “[I was] screen-printing in my basement. I created the logo, deviated from it, then returned.” He spoke of how the original designs weren’t representative of “the vision.” Originally SF was on the middle of the chest similar to the uniform of Superman. Alas “it was hard to get the right sizing,” Reid put it.
SF Stands For Stands For, or SF for short, is a line of colorful tops and bottoms accented with a large, playful font; SF stamped to mark his work. Reid exploits the youthful energy of basic colors like the primaries, red, yellow, blue, and black and white in all his apparel. People can show their support by visiting Reid’s site, and by using the promo code SFSFSF folks can purchase his clothing for 15% off at sfstandsforstandsfor.com.
“Money is the main motivator for anything, no matter what, no matter who you are. For me, it’s not so much the currency, but what it could be used for.” Tyler Reid answered when asked if he would weigh his success by measure of profit or recognition. “I want to grow to be able to craft more outlandish products in mass production. This includes aspirations for puff coats, boots, backpacks or whatever I’m feeling. I just want to get to the point where I’m only limited by my creativity rather than resources.”
“SF is more of a passion project for me, where I can allow myself to have fun. It’s a great release from creating my artwork… This isn’t to say SF is an entire departure from form, a lot of ideas and motivations of mine make it into SF designs all the time. With SF being an outlet of mine I can make whatever I want under a name that liberates me.”
Tyler Reid has several goals in mind for his artistic business ventures. He’s looking to be represented and sell his clothes at local shops and shops not so local. A big goal of his is to sell his apparel at Civics, a skateboard shop in Providence, Rhode Island. He’d like to eventually connect with his longtime inspiration, Shepard Fairey, the creator of Obey and the famous Obama Hope poster. “My own store would be dope [too]. A little shop with a nice little skatepark would be crazy. Just a spot to hangout and craft dope [stuff]. This is the realistic end goal I’m working towards.”
Profile by: Dymin Ellis