It’s amazing just how much love the little people get! Inspiring City has been out and about with many an artist but never before have so many people wanted to stop and talk than on the day we went out on a shoot with Roy Tyson. As we scrabble around in the dirt macro lens in hand and tiny figurines set up just in the right position many a passer by, intrigued by the tiny world on display, wanted to learn more about the artist more commonly known as ‘Roys People’.
Soon to be exhibiting in his first solo show ‘Street Life’ at the Curious Duke Gallery, Roy is a heavyweight when it comes to miniature photography and his unique take on the world has seen his popularity soar in the two years since he started to document his tiny scenes. From humble beginnings photographing model train tracks and figurines in the garden his playful work has been met with success and praise in the press.
But, you need to be prepared to get dirty! Spending time on a photo shoot with Roys People means that you need to be accepting of the fact that you are not going to leave with your clothes in pristine condition. Our photographic journey took us to some pretty sulubrious places around Brick Lane and involved setting up pavement installations which required us to get down and dirty next to drainpipes and other such everyday items that would serve as integral backdrops to Roy’s mini world.
The installations themselves were worth the effort though, the first a collaboration with popular Italian street artist Alo, was a treat to see. The second, a mock up of some figurines cycling out of a drain pipe was inspired. Both photographs are unlikely to make it into the solo show given the timescales but they are representative of a body of work that is becoming ever more innovative. Preparing for the show has seen Roy pound the streets like never before,”I’ve basically spent the last five months of my life rolling round the streets creating as many different pictures as possible” he told me.
Partnering with Italian artist Alo was a particularly fun thing to see and what a great collaboration. The two had admired each others work from afar for a number of months and finally worked out a way in which they could do something together. The resultant installation being one of Alo’s instinctively recognisable portraits painted onto a jam jar which in turn was being painted by Roy’s little people. Alo’s work can be spotted all over Shoreditch and is well loved but I can well imagine that the resultant collaboration could become one of his most popular pieces yet.
For Roy it’s been a journey from mechanic, to sales rep and now he’s managed to take what was a hobby and make it into a full time artistic career. After first exhibiting his work to the world in the ‘Art of Curiosity’ show at the Curious Duke in July 2013 he told me, “I realised I could make something of this” as his work began to sell. And make something of it he did, going on to exhibit at ‘The Other Art Fair’ and becoming the shows biggest seller.
Roy’s work is very much a combination of model making with photography, each figurine is created, then painted, then photographed. What’s remarkable however is that Roy only started learning how to take the photographs when he decided to really start exhibiting “I literally learnt photography when I realised I wanted to start taking pictures of these figures” he told me. The art though is more in the little people “it’s the painting, the cutting up and the reshaping of them but then at the same time you’ve got to know how to take a decent picture” he reflects.
Linking up with the release of the show is also a project Roy is working on with the Big Issue where on Wednesday 2 April 2014 he will be hiding 30 minature figures around Covent Garden. The idea being that people find the figurines photograph them and send them into the Big Issue in order to enter into a prize draw where a lucky winner could win a one-off exclusive print created especially for the magazine. It’s a tempting prize and for the Big Issue it allows them to highlight the hidden nature of the figurines which is also how the big issue vendors are sometimes seen, there in plain sight but often hidden from view as they become part of the everyday bustle of city life.
Street Life promises to be a fun and totally unique show as it launches at the Curious Duke at 6pm on Thursday 4th April 2014. Judging by the amount of flyers handed out and the general interest from passers by just in the time during the photo shoot it looks like there will be a lot of interest. Roy is an artist like no other, a real success story claiming the world of the minature for his own “it can be hard thinking of all the ideas” he told me “but I get inspiration from everything, I could be reading a book or watching the news and I’ll have an idea for an image”. It’s that imagination which feeds the world that Roy’s People now inhabit and it’s an imagination which will please many as his work becomes ever more popular and starts to grace ever more walls.
Roy’s People was interviewed on Friday 28th April as he prepared an installation with Alo outside Shoreditch Junk on Sclater Street. His solo show ‘Street Life’ debuts at the Curious Duke Gallery on Thursday 3rd April and runs until 26th April 2014. The 30 minature figurines will be placed around Covent Garden on Wednesday 2nd April 2014 for people to find, photograph and send into the Big Issue.
Roy’s People Gallery