Article By: Amelia Rose
Originally Published In The January 2020 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
It’s not very often that I get to interview local artists, but when I do, they’re like no other, and Tyler Elliot is just that. Hailing from just south of Pittsburgh, art was always in his future. He spent most of his childhood creating and drawing pictures of cars and trucks on whatever paper he could get his hands on. He would then take all of his drawings and set them up as some sort of book, using his imagination to create worlds at his fi ngertips. Despite being relatively new to the motorcycle world, in his teens and 20’s he rode BMX and was always somehow involved in various auto projects, painted a few bikes, but never had one of his own. After opening up his shop, TE Customs back in 2008, he felt the need to start building a bike of some sort, with plans to sell it after the build was done. Initially it was for the challenge of building something other than his usual cars and trucks, so he bought a Sportster off of one of his dad’s old riding friends.
With the exception of some motor work and a couple mods, the bike was almost entirely stock, but a year and a half later it was something almost brand new. It was a hardtailed, 21-16 wheel combo with a sweet fancy flake/candy/gold leaf paint job and some custom made bits and pieces. His first time riding it was actually to one of our shows at a local Harley dealership! He won Best Sportster and got a sweet feature in the magazine! Since then, he’s received a few other awards for the bike, but the one from our shows stands out the most to him. The bike is still his, and he rides it every day, as much as he can, providing it isn’t snowing! The inspiration for his art can be found in many places, anything from street art, lowbrow art, fi ne art, controversial art, macabre/horror, etc. but one thing from his childhood, in particular, stands out to him, the centerfold of the Guns N Roses album “Appetite For Destruction”. The monsters, the chaos, all of the layers built-in and in perfect color and detail. It was art, kid heaven!
A versatile artist requires versatile medium, and Tyler Elliot is no exception! For his fi ne art-type pieces he uses anything from colored pencils and acrylic to One Shot (for the pinstriping), whereas, for his automotive arts, he uses airbrush, gold/silver leafing, and various automotive paints. Aside from the usual motorcycles and automobiles he’s created art on, he’ll paint on anything from Yeti cups, coolers, cell phone cases, toilet seats, pumpkins, skateboards, shoes, you name it! A recent venture of his has actually been painting Kate Spade bags.
Another medium he has been working with on the side has been metals. Anything from forming body panels for classic cars to fabricating suspension pieces for bikes and automobiles, as well as making signs, sculptures, and other artsy-type things. Despite its difficulty, it’s always something that has fascinated him, and he’s never one to back down from a challenge. The thing that truly sets him apart from other artists in the industry is his versatility in medium use, as mentioned before. He also is someone who not only knows about his creations but is well versed in the building process and what it takes to create some of the pieces he works on. Being able to understand your craft like that is a valuable skill and makes for a sought after craftsperson or artisan.
For Tyler, the best part of his job is the feeling he gets when someone asks to have one of his pieces in a show, on their car, their walls, even sometimes on their bodies as tattoos! Knowing others value your art as much as you do is a truly incredible feeling. Last year he was honored to have his bike displayed at the Night of the Troglodytes in Jersey, which was a great honor and an even better time! He also had the honor of having both of his bikes displayed at Born Free 11 and got invited to the Keystone Collective in 2020!! As for his plans for the future, it’s just to keep creating, keep challenging himself, and to keep himself and his artwork original and unique. Always one to challenge himself with new artwork, Tyler is always looking to improve himself as an artist, create more detail, sharper lines, creating something no one has ever seen before. Trying a different perspective than what the world around him sees keeps his skills sharp and his creativity flowing.
If you want to check out more of this cats incredible work or commission a piece for yourself, you can see him out on Instagram: @te_customs, facebook: TE customs or head on over to his website www.tecustoms.com