Poppin’ Pop Art

Portrait of Tyree Taylor in front of is 2020 VADS display

Tyree Taylor displays a pair of awards he received at the 2020 Visual Art and Design Showcase for his collection “False Profits.”

Growing up in the Kansas City suburb of Raytown, Tyree Taylor was very close with his family — especially his mother and sister. He had an interest in art as far back as he can remember, drawing independently around the age of 8.

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Taylor was always an exceptionally skilled artist relative to his age, but his family helped him further develop. His mother rewarded him with money for creating perfect recreations of images, a great motivator for him. She hung his art on what she called the “Wall of Fame,” but only if it was a polished piece.

Taylor’s 2020 Visual Art and Design Showcase entry, False Profits, received the University of Missouri Libraries Exhibition Award, the Museum of Art & Archaeology Showcase Award and the People’s Choice Award. The collection of paintings explores the ideas of ideology, mortality and morality. Taylor was inspired by Greek mythology, marble statues and hip-hop music.

Taylor vividly remembers drawing the Marvel comic book character, Wolverine. His mom liked it so much that he pushed himself to try even harder from that moment forward.

It wasn’t only Taylor’s mother who had influenced his work. His cousin is a graffiti artist, and his uncle liked to draw cars. Taylor would sometimes draw cars like his uncle, or cartoon characters, such as Sonic the Hedgehog, for his cousin.

In middle school, Taylor’s art teacher encouraged him to avoid drawing “what he knew was there” and instead focus on the shapes. It was a key experience that changed the way he viewed art.

To Taylor, art is a form of self-expression that “deals with how you think and how you perceive the world.” His varied pop-culture influences include Disney’s Fantasia, anime and musicians including Travis Scott and Johnny Cash.

Taylor primarily focuses on animation, but he is interested in different forms of art. Though drawing and animation are different, he points out that they often intersect.

Taylor advised anyone who has something they are proud of or that they’re wanting to show off to enter the VADS. He said to not be discouraged by other people’s work, and that those who put hard work in might surprise themselves.

Sign up for the 2021 Visual Art and Design Showcase, a virtual celebration of undergraduate achievement in art and design! Join us on Zoom for an information session on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020.