Tyrel De Bique

Tyrel De Bique is passionate about all things design, a self-proclaimed Adobe Creative Suite enthusiast, a supporter of informal education and the constant journey for innovation. He found his expression as an abstract artist while looking for ways enhance his tattooing style. Read on and enjoy.

Jus do dis, and den dat and den put de ting so, twist it like dat, ben da piece so, and it go work.

How do you define creativity and what does it mean to you?

Creativity is the translation and reworking of your observations in a form that's relevant and relatable to you. Sometimes it feels like a book report. You would read one hundred or so pages, which would seem like torture to some, and then be required to explain and explore the various themes and motifs as per your translation. Creativity is something like that. What you see, feel, hear, touch (even taste!) every day, that's the book. What you produce based on all these stimuli and how it's impacted on you, that's creativity.

How much of your creative ability do you think is innate? Or is your creativity a skill that you have developed?

This sounds like a ‘chicken or egg' situation to me. How exactly do you know which one is dominant? Growing up I didn't think I was particularly ‘creative'. I just thought I was smart and couldn't figure out how other people couldn't see things how I saw them or be able to piece them together. I mean, it was right there! "Jus do dis, and den dat and den put de ting so, twist it like dat, ben da piece so, and it go work.

See? It wasn't until much, much later in life that I realised that this was me being creatively inclined, and by that point, I couldn't determine what was there from before and what was due to what I consumed and learned over the years.

At fifteen, I decided I wanted to be a tattoo artist.

When did you realise that you wanted to express your creativity? Was it encouraged by others (e.g., parents)?

I remember being fascinated by tattoo culture at an early age, 9/10 years old. Not the bad boy aspect, but the fact that people had pictures on their bodies. That blossomed into the significance that some tattoos had, like Russian prison ink. That this mark meant this and that mark meant that. So at fifteen, I decided I wanted to be a tattoo artist. To be smart and to be creative. Fast forward thirteen years later, and I accept the fact that I'm never going to be genuinely creative or smart in this field. At least in the region. It's mostly a service industry, tattooing. It might seem like rebel culture, but it's not. Not like way back in the day.

Everyone wanted the same neo-tribal, the same cross, the same script lettering. It got kind of monotonous. Then I started painting and charcoal sketching in secret. Not for anyone else to see, just me. Figured it would help me develop a signature style and release some creativity. Immediately I found something that I did for me, something I liked and something that didn't require anyone's approval. Forward three more years (2014) and one minor thumb injury, one major life shift and one debilitating illness later and painting is now everything to me. It really made me feel like this is what I really wanted to do all along.

Encouragement. I do receive support from friends regarding my creative pursuits. I have a couple who definitely believe in me more than I believe in myself. Some more vocal than others as for my family, they are more complicit, but they're coming around at their own speed. I think sometimes it's more like, "Well at least he's an ‘artist' artist and not a tattoo artist.

 Better Like This

Better Like This

Who am I, Johnny-come-lately, to bounce up and say, “This feels like a B to me?

What is your standard for evaluating your creative work and the works of other people? Do you think that monetary rewards can be compatible with creativity in general? Are financial rewards relevant to your projects?

I don't like the word evaluate in this context when it comes to other peoples work. Evaluate seems like I'm grading someone's output. They put time and effort into it. Who am I, Johnny-come-lately, to bounce up and say, "This feels like a B to me? This looks like a D+ to me." Nah. If I f**k with it, I f**k with it. If I don't, that's cool too, I just keep stepping.

My own work, however, that's an entirely different story. I've been told many times by many people, that I'm too hard on myself and what I produce. That is because I always think I can do better. I know I can do better. For what I put out there, I try to keep it within the confines of art theory and keep the colour palette limited. I'm on the way to becoming a financially solvent artist, so yes, I do think monetary rewards are compatible. Money isn't everything, but we can agree that money makes things easier. Not all of my projects are about financial rewards. I have passion projects that I work on in secret. Some I keep at home and some I distribute to family and friends.

The only judgements or aspersions that matter is my own because I create for me.

Do you think your perception and evaluation of your creative endeavours are influenced by the views of other people? What role do you believe the culture that you live in plays in your creative efforts?

It is not. How I feel about my work, is all on me. The only judgements or aspersions that matter is my own because I create for me. What I would like. What I would hang at home. Culturally, I've seen a shift in my subject matter and focus. I like delving into introspection, knowledge of self and the human psyche. My dealings with some people, not all, is that they don't really spend a lot of time thinking about who they really are and being brutally honest with it. So I strive to create art that jumpstarts that conversations about their experiences, wants, desires and needs.

Does your creative work come easily or do you struggle with your ideas? What obstacles (if any) do you experience when you are creating? If you do face obstacles, how do you get past them?

I paint thematically. I pick a message, and I then allow it to evolve into a series of paintings that best suit it. I used to experience creative blocks and burn out quickly.

I've since adopted a method to prevent or lessen that from happening. That would be note-taking. I take copious amounts of notes, especially on my cell phone. If that doesn't work, I sleep. I lock up shop, and I sleep. Resting my brain and my eyes have almost always helped. It's almost like I reset and when I awake, I see things differently.

I think I exist in a perpetual creative state of mind.

Is there something that you do to put yourself into a creative state of mind? If so, what? How do you make the leap from a "Spark" in your head to the action you produce?

At the risk of sounding like THAT artsy black boy, I think I exist in a perpetual creative state of mind. However, this is something that is cultivated. To see what is and what could be. How to translate that via my preferred medium. So I don't necessarily have a spark but several. What I do, however, is making notes. These notes can be about ideas, situations, themes, colour palettes or processes. I jot down what's in my head, and I leave them until I am stuck at any point or I decide I'm about to begin a new series or theme. So the "leap" is relatively easy because I already have several foundations to choose from.

 No Church In The Wild

No Church In The Wild

There are days that I want to give painting a backseat for a minute, but in no time I’m back at it.

Was the way you express your creativity now always your ambition? If so, when did you know for sure?

No, it wasn't. I was focused for a long time on just tattooing, on getting better at it and travelling because of it. When I discovered painting though, and the solitude and honesty that accompanied it, I just knew that it was for me. There are days that I want to give painting a backseat for a minute, but in no time I'm back at it. Now I enjoy all aspects of it, not just the brush and paint moments. The networking, the marketing, the strategies, all of it.

What has been the most significant sacrifice that you have made for your craft?

Life. I've sacrificed life for my craft. Relationships, money, friendships, time, family, sex, sleep. All of these have been cannibalised for the sake of me pushing forward.

Which creative people do you admire? Why?

I'll have to list this and give quick summaries because this can quickly turn into a hero gushing Miya Bailey - Miya is a gang banger turned tattoo artist turned fine artist turned cultural ambassador. Miya Bailey is synonymous with black tattoo artist/ tattoo art progression. He has created an entire art subculture in Atlanta that encompasses blackness, the streets, arts and people.

Mark Rothko - Rothko believed that his art didn't need titles. He felt that a title would distract from what the art was meant to do which is evoke intense emotion just by being in its presence. I remember finding out about him while doing research on contemporary art and being influenced not only by his art, which is basically colour field art but also by his words and his dedication to his craft.

John Baldessari - his ability to include cynicism and levity within his art is inspirational. John is not shy about revealing himself in his work, nor does he hold back on illuminating the not so nice emotions that we experience from time to time.

Leroy Clarke - because he's Leroy Clarke. Do I need to say more about this? Hate him or love him you cannot deny his ability, his talent, his mind.

Kanye West - Kanye West is a fallen demigod in my eyes. He is not of this earth.

Who or what has helped you to persevere and not quit?

They know who they are and I'm confident they're reading this right now. I'll say no more.

Ego has a habit of hindering progress and innovation.

Do you believe that it is essential to be accepted by others as being creative or is just doing what you love to do enough to justify your work? Explain.

I think there's a balance to be struck between the two. Every man wants to be recognised by his peers, his tribe, his countrymen. Validation helps spur one on during those times when you don't exactly believe in yourself or your process. Howbeit, validation is a double-edged sword. I think too much of it can over-inflate the ego and ego has a habit of hindering progress and innovation. I'm so involved in the process and trying my hardest to perfect it that I don't care much if others believe in me. Ultimately, it's my two hands, my pair of eyes and my imagination that are involved and no one else.

Repeated rejection is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

Has rejection ever affected your creative process? Explain.

Repeated rejection is the best thing that has ever happened to me. It has pushed me away from relying on the naked human form to spark interest. Forced me to learn marketing and social media strategies. Rejection helped me ascertain the difference between those that were genuinely appreciative of my work as opposed those that merely wished to trade on my talent for their own benefit.

I live with imposter syndrome.

Have you ever doubted your talent? If so, how did you work through your doubt?

I live with imposter syndrome. I see so many more talented people doing fantastic work, that I feel like I have no business including myself in their ranks. Honestly, I don't work through it. I have people that are aware of my insecurity as it relates to my talent and they let me know that I am much more significant than I believe I am. They're good people, and I love them.

What piece of work are you most proud? Why?

I'm constantly refining and evolving my style, that it's difficult to pinpoint one piece that I'm especially proud of. My pride is usually reserved for the moment when I figure out how to incorporate something new, making it my own. Also, I hold myself to such rigid standards, that I always think I could do better, so I try to avoid hubris. Nevertheless, for the sake of this article, I would say that Conversations with G.O.D, an unreleased piece from my latest series, pleases me the most.

What is your ultimate creative goal and how attainable do you think it is?

Ultimate Creative Goal. I've never set an 'ultimate' creative goal. All of my goals are set within a 3 year period, and they're quite attainable with a little bit of elbow grease and quite possibly a lot of luck. Having a definite ultimate goal seems, to me, as setting yourself up for frustration. Because if you slip a couple of times, then that already distant achievement seems less possible. Whereas, if I just keep focusing on making it to the next ledge and the ledge after that, then the next etc., eventually I'm going to reach to the top of the mountain.

 Haven't Given Up Yet

Haven't Given Up Yet

What is the best advice you've received that helped you move forward on your creative journey?

There is a WORD. This WORD resides in all of us. My WORD may be different from your WORD. Find your WORD.

To a young Creative emerging in your field, what advice would you give them?

Talent alone won't get you there. It'll cut the bush and clear the track, but it won't pave the road.

For what would you like to be most remembered?

I have no idea yet. I still have so much more to achieve. So much more to learn, to experiment with. I believe I have yet to peak. At that time I'll decide what my legacy is to be.

If you were a crayon, what would be the name of your colour?

Grand Anse Green.

We thank Tyrel for sharing his thoughts with us. We suggest following him on the socials Instagram @ohmygod_itstyrel and Twitter @tyreldebique.


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A Creative Professional with over twenty years experience. Which he gained during his time spent at a few of Trinidad’s top advertising agencies. Then functioning as the Regional Creative head of the Caribbean’s largest retailer. Contributing to the development of the group’s regional marketing strategy. Forming the regional Design Strategy. Conceptualisation and execution of all creative, marketing and advertising communication for the group’s brands. With oversight of regional and local creative teams and creative processes. He continues to sharpen his creative edge. A passionate, twenty-four hour creative junky. Admirer of sexy typefaces, lover of words and aspiring life long learner. He is also the founder of A BigBox Of Crayons. An online and offline community for creative thinkers + makers in Trinidad & Tobago.