Tye Martinez: A True Artist with Cyberpunk Renaissance Horror (NSFW)

All images by Tye Martinez. Used with permission.

“I think true creative art is rare,” says Washington based photographer, Tye Martinez (aka Tye Died.) “But when an artist gets exceptional at creating their own unique style, that is when they truly contribute to the artistic world.” For The Phoblographer, Tye is undoubtedly someone who has taken their style and ran with it. His moody, dark, and sometimes twisted concepts are, in their own way, stunning. Every idea has meaning, and each detail is an essential cog in his creative wheel. Online, he is somewhat of a mysterious character. He says very little, however, whatever he does say delivers significant impact – that’s why we were so intrigued by his work. Eager to know more about the person behind these marvelous creations, we reached out to Tye; he gave us one of the most insightful and engaging interviews to date.

Phoblographer: Your Behance reads, “A human being trying to learn what it truly is to create.” How’s that journey going, and what have you learned so far?

TM: The first thing that comes to mind is I really have to update my Behance! The journey is going great. I still have so much to learn, and I don’t think that will end anytime soon. Lately, I’ve been really focused on creating art that is genuine and honest. I feel like everyone has their own unique imagination, and I just want to share mine with the world.

“Seeing an image come to life from my imagination is the most beautiful feeling.”

Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography. What were your initial motivations?

TM: I got my first camera when I was around 15 or so. My brother bought me a Pentax k1000 with some money he’d been saving from his first job at Burger King. My family was really poor, growing up so my mom couldn’t really afford to get us things like that. I remember liking photography just because I thought photographers looked so cool. So I would shoot around a bit, but I never really thought much about becoming an “artist.” It wasn’t until I discovered Vine that I knew I wanted to make art for the rest of my life. I got really into making time-lapses and stop motion (this was the weird side of Vine, not all the comedy stuff), and I ended up getting my first paying art job. It was a six-second video for the NHTSA for seatbelt safety awareness. I used the money from that job to buy my first DSLR, a Canon 70D. After that, I was pretty much hooked! I knew I could never follow another career. I ended up quitting my part-time job and getting on a train to San Francisco to pursue my art, haven’t looked back since.

Phoblographer: “Cyberpunk Renaissance Horror.” For anyone new to the concept, please can you tell them more about it?

TM: So, these three words are the embodiment of my inspiration. Cyberpunk is a genre of science fiction that involves technology and dystopia, see Bladerunner, Akira, Ghost In The Shell. Renaissance means “The Revival of Art,” and I believe we are living in the second Renaissance right now! I’m also heavily influenced by the classic poses and portraiture of the early Renaissance. Horror is well, horror. It’s maybe my favorite genre of anything and heavily influences all the art I create. I pretty much mash up these influences and what you get is my art. Something that seems like it could be set in a dystopian future, it’s extremely creepy and not like much that you’ve ever seen before. That’s what I’m going for at least! I got a lot to learn and improve on!

Phoblographer: You have some wonderfully creative work. How do you come up with a concept and what steps do you take to bring it fruition?

TM: Well, I think the main thing is practice. My goal is to create the things that I see in my head, whether it be just walking around getting inspired by my environment or something that pops into my mind in the middle of the night. I think most people have really creative and beautiful concepts in their minds, but they struggle with bringing them to fruition. It all comes down to how much time you put into practicing that creation.

As of right now, I create one new photo concept every day. I usually will go out to explore the beautiful state of Washington, and I’ll get inspired by my environment, see a shot in my head, and do what I need to do to make it come to life. Sometimes this involves getting into a sewage system or burying myself under the snow. It doesn’t always work out, hell it rarely works out, but when it does work, it was always worth it.

“…if you’re working with someone new and you’re not sure what boundaries they have, simply ask!”

All of the pain of the moment doesn’t compare to the final product. Seeing an image come to life from my imagination is the most beautiful feeling. It just takes practice.

Phoblographer: On your pages, we’ve noticed you don’t write much about yourself. Is that because you prefer to let your photographs do the talking, or are you an introverted creative soul?

TM: I think I struggle with having a normal “Internet Personality.” It all feels really fake to me, and that’s the last thing I want to be associated with my art. I tend to be an outgoing person when I need to be, but my natural state of mind is very introverted. So it’s kind of a weird split that’s hard to translate into the social media world. The people that are close to me on social media and in life know just how weird, extroverted, and sometimes annoying I can be, but I tend to not show that side of myself to everyone. Although I am working on being a bit more social on the internet, [I’m] just trying to be genuine and myself at the same time!

Phoblographer: You’ve had your subjects naked in the cold sea, hugging a tree, and in front of wild animals. How do you pitch that idea to them and get them on board creatively?

TM: I get asked this question quite a bit, and there are a couple different things to talk about. First off, I would say more than half of my photographs are either of myself or my partner. We are both very open to putting ourselves through hell for art, I would even go far enough to say we live for it. So it tends to be a lot more simple than most people would like to think. Secondly, I think we’ve been extremely fortunate in finding like-minded creatives who are also willing to do what needs to be done for a genuine creation. Most of the beautiful human beings that we work with will communicate to us what their boundaries are and what they’re willing to do. I think having a lot of self-portraits and shots of my partner help garner trust from others to create something genuine from their momentary suffering.

“I feel like you can only truly contribute to the human need to create art if you’re completely genuine in your creations.”

I’m extremely grateful that so many have trusted me with this task, and I’d do everything I could to make them proud of the work they let me create from their image. Lastly, if you’re working with someone new and you’re not sure what boundaries they have, simply ask! There’s no harm in communication, and I think a lot of people might surprise you!

Phoblographer: Your captions on Instagram are incredibly thoughtful. Is this creative journey a form of therapy for you, a way to understand yourself and evolve?

TM: It is very much so. I think creating these images and giving them meaning is a part of why I am alive. I don’t think I would have made it this far without them. So when I caption an image, I tend to try and bring as much depth to the image as possible. Sometimes I know immediately what the photograph is saying to me, or what I was trying to portray. Other times I have to create meaning from what the finished photo means to me. I try to think of them like scenes from a movie. What is this scene about? Where does it lead? Where did it begin? This usually gets the ball rolling for me creatively. I also make music, so I tend to take all I’ve learned from writing lyrics and flow, and I channel that into my captions.

Phoblographer: Without a doubt, you’re an exceptional artist. Where did your artistic side come from, and at what point did you find your creative voice?

TM: Thank you! I feel like after dabbling in different art-forms for almost 10 years, I never really found my voice or even really understood what I wanted out of my art until very recently. I was always kind of lazy about it and at a dead end from what I even really wanted from my art. In the past, I’d just think about it as a career, like what could I do to pay the bills and be happy doing it. I would even say as recently as my move to Washington, which was only the end of 2017, I was still trying to decide what artistic “career” I wanted to devote my time to. I realized something recently, though, and that was all these thoughts of money, and career were all hindering my ability to create genuine art in any form. The thing I want most from my art is to share my unique imagination and inspire others like I’ve been inspired. I feel like you can only truly contribute to the human need to create art if you’re completely genuine in your creations. Everything else kinda just falls into place once you break down all the walls and practice creating genuine things. I’ve never felt more in the right place than I do right now, so I think maybe I found my voice? Now it’s just practicing and refining my voice until the day I die.

As to where my artistic side came from I think it has a lot to do with my childhood. Like I said earlier, I grew up really poor, and I went through a lot of terrible things as a child and a teenager. I think I express a lot of these emotions through my art, hence the darkness. Looking back, I think I had to find the beauty and the meaning behind all the darkness I was facing as a child, and now I can communicate the beauty of that darkness more efficiently. I feel like everyone has their own unique artistic side in them, they just have to practice communicating that language.

Phoblographer: Finally, can you tell us how the name TyeDied was created?

TM: So, growing up, I met a girl named Kyleigh, who was one of my closest friends. My real name is Tye, so she used to always call my Tyedye and it kinda caught on, and some others would use that as well. When I was first naming my Vine account, I wanted something that represented myself and my darkness. Since I was already being called Tyedye, I just changed the dye to Died to introduce a double meaning. So I am still TyeDye but it’s like past tense, and it also means that I have died like Tye passed away. I thought it was pretty clever when I was 18, and I haven’t changed it since! Weird how things happen like that. I feel like it still represents myself and my darkness pretty well, and that’s that!

Be sure to see more of Tye’s work by visiting his Instagram.