Andheri’s Street Fighting ManView Slideshow
If you’re a resident of Andheri or a frequent visitor, you might have seen stenciled graffiti signed by “Tyler”. A wall in Versova has an inky illustration of a girl feeding a chicken with one hand and holding a bloody dagger behind her back with the other. Another has a little boy scribbling, “There goes the Mumbai night life.” In Seven Bungalows, a whitewashed sign in the middle of the road has these words instead: “Sorry! The lifestyle you ordered is currently out of stock.” The man behind this gently subversive street art borrows his alias from, you guessed it, Tyler Durden, the anti-establishmentarian of Chuck Palahniuk’s book Fight Club and its more famous movie version of the same name. Tyler, the street artist, told Mumbai Boss that sometimes his can of spray-paint feels like an AK47.
What gives with the tag?
I’m a fan of the movie. You’re going to think I’m a psycho person if I start telling you how much I’m into this character. I like how Tyler Durden shows reality to people. I try to do the same in street art. I like the name and everyone connects Tyler with Fight Club.
You seem to make more of a social statement than your peers. What’s the intention behind some of your work?
All of them are based on current situations in society. The girl with a knife behind her back [was inspired by] a lady in Versova who used to sell boiled eggs. I love animals but I also like to eat chicken. It’s about how greedy people are. They kill people for their own advantage. The day I drew it [the egg seller] never came back. I feel bad for her. Maybe it was because of my work or maybe something happened to her overnight.
Could you describe your technique?
I use stencils because I’m not a good artist. Also the work looks more detailed with a stencil. None of my works have taken more than two and half minutes.
How do you pick spots to graffiti?
I make sure that whichever wall I paint is a wall that people are passing every day. There’s a guy who stands at the Juhu signal with a banner that says, “Apne dharam pe chalo, sabse prem karo.” That guy is a landmark and it’s a strong message. He gives me a lot of inspiration.
What’s the best time to do graffiti?
Any time is a good time. I make sure I don’t have anything [important to do the day I paint]. I think of the worst-case scenario. [The cops] could arrest me. I’ll have to act like a retard and only then will they leave me. I won’t bribe them because that’s against my work. But every time I’ve done my work it’s been at night. I don’t have a problem with people looking at me. The only people I’m worried about are cops. Day time calls for a lot of attention. I’ve [painted] at 4am, drenched in sweat. There’s a lot of tension. You feel like you’re a thief, a terrorist with an AK47 with the intention of killing someone. I feel my spray can has a lot of power.
What’s your day job?
I am a designer. I run my own studio. I started with events and [television] production work. Now I do all forms of designing—exhibitions, web layouts, interiors.
Who knows about your secret life?
Only one or two of my friends.
Are you part of an underground graffiti club in Mumbai?
I’m forming a club. I believe in teamwork. I need to have a lot of people on board as active as me with the intention of keeping the scene moving. I want a message to go out there. [For example] you see Shah Rukh Khan campaigning for Fair and Handsome [men’s fairness cream] and saying that if you’re not using this, you should. Someone needs to answer them. My next work is going to be against advertisers. I don’t want to spread vandalism and chaos. [Street artists coming together] will be like DJs coming together for a festival.