Interview - Mia Tyler - Artist & Photographer 1

Interview – Mia Tyler – Artist & Photographer

Mia Tyler [daughter of Aerosmith’s frontman Steven Tyler and Cyrinda Foxe] spent much of her life in front of the camera as a plus size model, and in the public eye. However she always felt ill at ease with this position and  it was after her father gave her a professional camera for her birthday that she switched sides, and her life as an artist was created. Drawing on the things around her, Mia depicts that which others may find distasteful, as beautiful and makes us question the very concept of beauty itself. Her debut exhibition took place in February of last year in New York at RIFF, Andy Hilfiger’s art-and-commerce outpost in the former CBGB Gallery space to great acclaim.

 I interviewed her about her intriguing work, what makes her tick, her inspiration and what blew her mind in 2012.


1. You went from being in front of the camera, to behind it, and had your first exhibition in 2012. Was this a natural progression for you, or was it something much more decisive?
I never really liked being in front of the camera. I am and always will be a bit of a rebellious tomboy. I would get to a shoot and instantly wish it was over. While the camera was on me I would imagine what it felt like to be on the other side of the lens. After I quit modeling i tried my hand at different jobs in the entertainment industry but still never felt content. It wasn’t until I got my hands on a real camera and started to play with it that I realized how much power I had in my grip. So, it was a bit of both a natural progression over a few years and decisive because once I got that camera in my hands I knew exactly what I was doing.

2. You have said that ‘There is beauty in decay’ [Which I agree with, some of the most beautiful things/people are those coming to the end of their lives] But how do you define this personally?
I grew up in a world where people want everything to be perfect. Women are supposed to have these perfect little bodies and wear their makeup and hair a certain way. I spent most of my life traveling and I came to find out that everyone everywhere is different. And that is what makes them beautiful to me. So because of the Hollywood standards I as a rebellious tomboy decided I was going to find the beauty in all things. I think the sexiest thing in the world is a gap between someones two front teeth. I guess I just like what the norm isn’t. I like to go to abandoned buildings and ruins and find the beauty in the crumble of it all. It’s easy to find faults in life but finding beauty is the hardest part. The ugly is everywhere because we are taught to be perfect. Finding beauty in decay is one of lifes hardest lessons and I try to school myself on a daily basis. It makes the world so much more fun.

3. You often photograph things which other people find strange, sometimes even repulsive [the pig snouts come to mind! ;o) ] Is there a particular reason for this, are you trying to provoke a reaction? Or are just trying to represent an alternative view on things?
I get an idea in my head and run with it. My art is a reflection of what I see in my mind. To me it is just expressionism. People need to look inside of themselves to see what makes them think. Why would a pig snout be repulsive? Isn’t it just another part of the animal that you usually praise? People seem to love bacon so much that they put it on tshirts and proudly declare their love. The snout is just as much a part of that same animal. Why should it be left out? No one needs anything from a snout. It doesn’t feed you. It can’t be used to make you look good in any way. But paint it gold and everyone wants it. Human nature is selfish in so many ways.

4. I’m very interested in your ‘Survival’ series….can you explain a bit more about this, why the gas masks?
I was asked to be a part of a group show at Lambert Fine Arts in NYC. The theme was survival. I wanted to play up on the fact that everyone thought the world was ending because of the Mayan calendar prophesies. I thought, “the world is ending, what would you do?” And I kind of went from there. I asked my good friend Marilyn mansfield that question and she said she would put on her wedding dress and sit with all her dolls till the end came. So I photographed just that. I wanted to capture what other people considered “the end”. Using the gas masks just kind of came with the territory.


5. There is definitely a sense of the macabre in some of your work…tell me about your inspirations, past and present.
I just use what is within me. I love the darker side of life. The shadows that most people run from. I love to be scared so i think I use what is already in my head. Macabre is one of my favorite words so I take this question as a complete honor

6. You consciously decided not to draw influence from other photographers, can you explain why?
I don’t like to look at other people’s work because I don’t want to be affected by it. No matter the pic, I will always remember what I saw and then later when I am shooting I am haunted by it. I rather come up with my own ideas and then google search to see if someone has already done it.

7. You are a passionate supporter of positive body image [you yourself have worked as a plus size model] How does this reflect in your work?
This ties back in with what everyone thinks is supposed to be perfect. I was a chubby model. That right there is taboo and not what is considered the norm. I like making people see there is more to life than being a size zero and having the same look as everyone else. I hate fads. I can’t understand why anyone would want to look like someone else. Be yourself. That is the ultimate thing you can do for yourself. I think that is why I started covering myself with tattoos. I wanted to have my own skin that no one else could buy in a store.

8. In your book ‘Creating Myself’ [from 2008] you talk very personally about your life growing up in a rock star family [your father being Steven Tyler from Aerosmith] How has this shaped you as a person and how does it represent in your work?
I was definitely born with cool parents that let me do what I wanted expressively. My mom wanted me to be a nun but we all knew at a very young age that that wasn’t going to happen. Having a famous person in your life allows doors to open that would normally be nailed shut. It’s how you decide to open the door and come through that makes you who you are. You also have to be aware of what awaits you on the other end of that doorway. Most people just want fame without understanding that it is a beast. A wild animal. It can be tamed but it takes a lot of hard work. It doesn’t just happen. The harder you work at the things you want the better the pay off. People don’t understand that. And that’s why people fall off so hard. I’m not a huge fan of fame and what comes with it. So I am not sure if it comes through in my work.

9. What are you working on at the moment, and eventually where can people see it?
I am currently working on a few new pieces. Trying my hand at sculpture and physical art as apposed to just photography. I’ve got a work space full of skeletons, pug snouts and a weird collection of fetish gear that i am putting into my work. I should have a show this summer going on in either Los Angeles or NYC.


10. One finally [slightly silly] question, is there anything recently that has completely blown your mind?
There was something that happened recently that blew my mind harder than anything before. I was walking down the street and Damien Echols passed by me. I have been a long time supporter of the West memphis Three and to see him walk by me a free man was the greatest feeling i have ever felt. I think no one thought he would get out. And to see him, 100% himself walking freely on St Marks st in NYC was just a blessing. I’m not a fan of too many people he has my utmost respect and adoration. Totally blew my mind!
I have fallen into this crazy pocket of love in life. In the last year my life got completely turned upside down. I experienced some losses in my life that i had carried with me for the last 10 years. As hard as those losses were they opened up a new space and place in my heart to find new love. I have people and places and things in my life now that I never thought existed. I had to turn some pages and end a chapter of life I thought was the end of my book. But as cliche as it sounds, all I was doing was turning the page to a new chapter. I am so full of love and happiness for the next part of my life to begin. Life is good. For now.

You can check out all of Mia’s work here –

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.