Why the artist behind Inspire by Tyler quit her STEM job

This artist is celebrating Black hairstyles with stunning 3D hair art.

Tyler Clark had her whole life planned out. Her natural aptitudes in STEM made it possible for her to secure a steady job as an engineer. But even with a stable job, she refused to give up her passion for art. 

Under the handle Inspired by Tyler, Clark invested in her 3D hair art business during the pandemic. After going viral, she was able to quit her 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and become a full-time artist. Now she has some enviable clientele, including Saweetie, Issa Rae, Chance The Rapper and Taraji P. Henson. Her work has even been auctioned off at Tina Knowles’ Wearable Art Gala. 

But growing up, Clark was pushed into STEM because it was financially stable — and she was great at it. 

“I was actually planning to be an engineer,” Clark tells In The Know. “Society has a way of making it seem as if that is the way to have a very guaranteed financially successful lifestyle. And there’s a lot of scholarship around it, which I’m very grateful for all of that. But sometimes the creative side of things can be neglected.”

But she was also a wonderful artist. She always kept painting as a hobby. 

“My 3D hair art is where I add real hair, fabric, jewelry, all types of items to my art pieces,” she says.

Clark creates pop art portraits of Black women that integrate real hair. Locs, afros, braids and other ornate Black hairstyles are woven into each image. It’s art you can see and touch and it’s art that celebrates diverse Black beauty.

“Historically, African American hair has not been looked at as ideal, and it’s often looked at as unmanageable and difficult,” Clark says. “And I really wanted to change the narrative of that.” 

Eventually, she shared her paintings on social media. That’s when things really started to take off. Clark realized people wanted to purchase her pieces, so she would work on her art business after her day job. 

“Then this pandemic happened and, you know, we were really forced to spend more time at home, and I decided to build my business out,” Clark recalls. “Everything changed. I quit my job to pursue art full time, and I have not looked back.” 

Through Inspired by Tyler, Clark hopes to make Black women and girls feel confident and beautiful.

“I want little girls to see my art and feel beautiful as well. I think it really starts at a young age,” Clark says. “And if they can see a painting of mine and find beauty in it because the piece is beautiful, then they can also find beauty in themselves because they can connect to it from the skin tones to the hairstyles.”

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