UO Interviews: Tyler Shields

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Celebrity photographer and artist Tyler Shields is launching a collection of tees with Urban Outfitters at Space15Twenty on Tuesday, March 20th. In anticipation of the launch, we spoke with Shields about his work and influences, and even got some career advice.
 
Tell us about yourself -- Who are you? What do you do?
 
My name is Tyler Shields; I am a photographer, director, and writer.
 
When's the first time you remember picking up a camera? What are the first things you remember wanting to take photos of?
 
I was 15 when I bought my first video camera, but it wasn't until I was 21 that I took my first photograph on a real camera. I did take a few photos over the year on disposable cameras; that being said, it was this weird time when MySpace had just started, so there was a place to upload photos. So I just started shooting people.
 
What brought you from Jacksonville, Florida to Los Angeles? Any memorable stops along the way?
 
My dream has always been to make movies so I came out here to do that. I drove by myself and aside from one stop to sleep I drove all the way straight through. A cop pulled me over and he asked me if I was going to "make it big in Hollywood." I looked him right in his eyes and said, "Yes and this moment will be in my bio pic." He looked back at me and said, "Well then I want people to think kindly of the police," and he let me go. If he had given me the ticket it would have been double my net worth at the time [laughs]
 
What are some valuable lessons you learned early in your career?
 
You can't listen to people who hate on what your doing. Don't read the comments. It's a marathon, not a sprint. And fight for your vision because no one else will.
 
You describe yourself as an artist and work across many different mediums. Tell us a little about the different types of projects you've done and the different mediums you've explored. Which is your favorite? Why?
 
Well I have written books, directed movies, written movies, done music videos and art films, three photography books, and I have no idea how many photoshoots. Also I have never said that sentence out loud before. It's funny to hear because I don't think of any of it as different -- it's all the same making something is just that simple.
 
Who are some of your influences? Are there any time periods or cultural moments that especially inspire you?
 
Warhol, Avedon, Newton, Kubrick, Picasso, just to name a few. I love the 50s and 60s, but the fun of photography is that I can play with any time I want.
 
What is your most memorable celebrity photoshoot? What happened to make it so memorable?
I don't know if I can even answer that. Every single person I have shot has some sort of wild story...Without context this story may sound crazy, but Robin Williams and I once stole a car together. It was on accident and we returned it, but I would guess there are only ten to twenty other people in the world who can say they have stolen a car with Robin Williams. [laughs]
 
Any exciting upcoming projects you can tell us about?
I just released my mini-doc with YouTube Red, which is out now. I'm also excited for my next photo series. I just started working on it and it should be out in a few months. Additionally, I've started working on my fourth book but that wont be ready for a while...
 
Connect with Tyler here: www.tylershields.com/
 
Follow Tyler on Instagram: @thetylershields