Insider Inc.’s Tyler Le ’20, Illustration, is drawing up a dynamic career in editorial illustration

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Monday, December 12th, 2022

When Tyler Le graduated from PCA&D in 2020 with his BFA in Illustration, he says his ultimate goal was to make and create for a living.

Right out of the gate, he landed a freelance illustration project for The New York Times. More freelance editorial opportunities followed. Now, nearly three years later, he’s working full-time at Insider Inc. As an Associate Graphic Designer, Le’s task is to create conceptual illustrations for news articles in a fast-paced newsroom. His day-to-day experience, he says, is “working with editors and art directors to create eye-catching, clever, and sometimes thought-provoking illustrations for Insider‘s articles and stories.

“The job has been fruitful in more ways than one,” Le adds. It’s helped him work to perfect his craft as an artist, yes, “and also has made me more of a professional in my field and created connections that would have been harder to create without it.” 

In his off-hours, Le’s dedication to creativity and career remains strong. The Chambersburg, Pa., native still reaches out for other opportunities, creating his own merchandise, working freelance for other editorial publications, and even reaching out to breweries to work on can labels. The “avid lover of all things art” says that, if he has a “pinnacle goal at the moment, it would be to make my way up to art director and lead a group of artists to make a cohesive and desirable aesthetic for a magazine or news company full time.”

He’s getting closer every day. We talked to Le about his time at PCA&D, what led him into the field of illustration, what college course  and life lessons he’s carried over into his creative career, and what strengths PCA&D has that have made working toward his career goals easier:

‘Bait and Switch” illustration by Tyler Le.

When you began at PCA&D, were you sure you wanted to go into Illustration? What inspired you in that direction?

Tyler Le: When I started my college life at PCA&D I knew going in that I was mostly interested in Digital Media and Illustration. My Foundation year was so helpful and fundamental in helping me make a clear decision later on, so I became a very proud and determined Illustration major who got involved with events, critiques, and many other things. I chose the route of Illustration as my major because of the understanding that we’re storytellers who can create worlds, characters, and, in my case, fast-paced storytelling that can catch your eye and have you check out an article or two. The Illustration community (at PCA&D) was also so welcoming and supportive of any endeavor, with professors like Matt Chapman, Rob Young, and Christina Hess. It became a family for me to whom I still talk today, people who I go to for advice and direction with the world outside college, and it really make those four years of college all worth it. 

Can you think of a moment when you knew you were headed in the right direction at PCA&D?

TL: It was after my internship with Chris Gash during the summer before my senior year. At first, I asked Chris to be my mentor for the mere fact that I enjoyed his work so much and I was open-minded to editorial work as a profession. He really showed me his process and the way he tackles everything as a full-time illustrator in the field. When that internship was over I had an end goal, and that’s what I focused on making that entire senior year: a killer portfolio that could get me work after college finished and set me up for success. That determination worked on levels I didn’t expect it to. Three months out of college, during a pandemic, I was able to land a spot in The New York Times Sports section in the Sunday paper. Who would’ve thought a fresh-out-of-college student who was sitting around inside because of a global sickness could land an achievement like that so quickly! Big shout-out to Chris Gash for sharing the (NYT) art director’s name. I would never have been able to land that without help from some of my connections. 

“Human Interface” illustration by Tyler Le.

Who or what inspires you now?

TL: I have quite a few illustrators who have been inspiring me and my work as of late. Max Löffler, César R. Canseco, Valentin Tkach, and many, many more fantastic artists inspire me day by day. 

Has there been a recent work challenge you’ve overcome using a lesson or technique you learned at PCA&D?

TL: Some of the most helpful things I learned in college that I still exercise today are time management, illustration in black and white first, and using a word bank to help come up with concepts and ideas. 

For you, as an artist, what were PCA&D’s strengths?

TL: PCA&D’s strengths while I was attending were the professors and their ability to have a personal relationship with their students to the extent of wanting to see your growth and to cheer that on. To this day there are so many teachers still reaching out and supporting my growth as an artist. 

Because artists are never done learning: How do you keep expanding your base of knowledge? 

TL: As of late, I have been reaching out to other artists and making friends with other artists in my field to pick their brains on things I’m not super-knowledgeable in. From things like freelancing to marketing yourself to get more work, it’s been a super-helpful thing to ask other professionals. 

What are art tools you could never do without?

TL: My iPad Pro, Apple pencil, and Procreate!

Top image: “Tech Podcasts” illustration by Tyler Le.