Common Queries / by Tyler Voorhees

One month, four art fairs and 2,000 miles into our art adventure and I feel alive. Our new life as "art carnies" has been eye-opening, energizing and not without excitement. We battled a deluge of rain in Denver, received a Merit Award on the streets of Edina, danced along the river in Salina and sat beneath the shade of College Hill in Cedar Falls. We've made new friends and spread my art across the walls of the Midwest.


One of the most enjoyable aspects of my new career is that I get to talk to folks about my art. In doing so, I've noticed a couple of frequently asked questions, which I thought I would address in case you had the same queries.

Where did the idea to paint obsolete jobs come from?
The Jobs of Yesteryear spawned from two interests: my love of history and my passion for storytelling. I've always enjoyed reading about times past and in particular, the Industrial Revolution, with all its newfound machinery and steam powered wonders. Something about that time period and the momentous changes that occurred have always caught my attention.

History is basically a collection of stories, so it is no surprise that I am equally engaged by the art of telling those stories. The craft of weaving a tale together is wondrous and I've always been drawn to people who can spin a yarn with style and vigor (I'm talking to you Uncle Al). While I may not be the most naturally gifted storyteller, I realized a while back that what I could do well is tell a story on the canvas.

Thus began the search for the collection of stories that I would tell with my next series of paintings. While perusing some old photographs online, I came across an album dedicated to jobs of old that people no longer hold today. I was transfixed both by the imagery and the little snippet from daily life in the past that each job captured. The light bulb had gone off and the rest is, as they say, history.

Why the long limbs?
This question is not as easily answered as you'd think. It's like asking someone why they like polka-dots. Put simply, it comes down to style. I've always enjoyed artists that incorporate elongation and slender-limbed creatures into their artwork such as The Temptation of St. Anthony by Dali and Three Men Walking II by Giacometti. As a result, I've always incorporated that style of imagery into my sketches and, eventually, my paintings.

from my sketchbook

When I found the story that I wanted to tell, it was a matter of figuring out how I could make my own mark on the topic and interpret it visually in a unique way. I needed to look no further than my sketchbook, which is filled with long-limbed characters roaming the pages. And when I created the first painting in the series, The Lamplighter, I knew I had found my story and my style.

If you have any other questions you're pondering about my art or my new life, comment below or shoot me an email. Next month, I'll delve more into my process of creating art, using an awesome commissioned piece that I just finished. Until then, you can follow our trials and triumphs on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Onward to Michigan!