Tristan Eaton is an American artist from Los Angeles. He is a graffiti artist, illustrator, toy designer and also a street art muralist.
Eaton was born in 1978, in Los Angeles, California.
Going from places to places
When he was 8 years old, his family moved to London, England. At age 16, they moved back to the United States but this time to Detroit, Michigan. While Eaton loved the city of Detroit, he always wanted to live in a big city and thus, moved to New York when he was 20 years old.
During his teenage years, Eaton painted everything, from dumpsters to billboards, wherever he lived. He had a troubled childhood and was arrested many times for shoplifting and making graffiti.
He used art as an escape from reality and also to escape from legal authorities by providing artistic evidence to judges, principles and police officers.
“I am not a graffiti artist”
Eaton became interested in graffiti when he was in London and upon moving to Detroit he started doing a lot of graffiti, mainly due to lack of police regulation. He doesn’t consider himself a graffiti artist but more of a muralist.
His graffiti work does not consist of letters but mostly characters. For his graffiti work, he never focused on using just spray paint but painted with whatever he could get his hands on. According to him, good graffiti is painting something big and beautiful but illegally. Everything else is mural work for him.
A keen interest in comic books
His interest in comic books also peaked during his time in London. He was inspired by the 2000AD Magazine by British illustrators. He would draw characters from comic books, such as Jack Kirby, early X-Men, Silver Surfer and even the anime film, Akira. At 18, he made his first toy for Fisher Price, which was the beginning of many to come. His creativity led him to becoming a leader in advertising.
He was a regular consultant for many clients, such as Hasbro, Pepsi and Nike.
Eaton was approached by Kidrobot designer, Paul Budnitz, who offered him to work as an art director on an animated film called Kidrobot. Kidrobot became so popular they stopped working on it and started producing designer toys, mainly action figures.
The action figures were made on a limited edition basis and were inspired by the work of famous graffiti artists and hip-hop culture. Eaton believed these toys allowed people to purchase something which tied fine art with consumerism, because fine art is extremely expensive while consumerism is affordable and available to the masses.
This idea gave birth to these limited edition designer toys that led Eaton to become internationally famous with a huge fan base.
Eaton wanted to showcase his art to the lower-class of the urban cities he visited. He believed everybody had the right to have access to fine art and they did not just had to see gray buildings and big billboards. With this intention, he created remarkable murals all over the country.
Inspirations and where to see Tristan’s works
Eaton claims his artwork is inspired from Os Gemeos, Mode 2, Takishi Murikami and many others. His creations can be viewed at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum and some of his collection at the Museum of Modern Art is permanent. On his website, Eaton states “outdoor, public art is the most important to me. Public art has the ability to inspire and transform our communities.” It is obvious how important it is for Eaton to share his art with the rest of the world.
Currently, Eaton is the President and Creative Director at Thunderdog Studios Inc. Thunderdog is a prominent brand for designer toys and a creative agency based in New York. Thunderdog is the backbone of all of Eaton’s work. His team at Thunderdog helps him put together big projects, such as toys and video collaborations. Tristan Eaton happily resides in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
More on Tristan Eaton’s website