Artists have no choice but to express their lives. Peter Tunney is one such man. His life story is as colourful as his highly acclaimed art.
Tunney nearly died at the young age of 13 in a car accident, before springing back to life. He turned into a professional magician as he got out of the hospital, and barely got through high school. He would go to college, only to be thrown out, and began selling cars in a dealership. He was invited to work on Wall Street, which he did successfully for a number of years, before getting bored and deciding to spend time in Africa as a photo curator instead. After ten years in the savanna, he still felt unfulfilled and started making art as a form of nourishment.
Speaking of his journey in one of his interviews, Tunney said: “I went to a party when I was 13 and I came home when I was 43. I was running, trying to get stuff, accomplish things. When I got sober, I gave up all that. I just let the whole world come to me. And once I surrendered and let go of everything, good stuff happened to me.”
Tunney’s artwork imitates life. It shows you that when one door closes, another will open. You just have to “REMAIN CALM” and persevere. His thought is to create a body of work which mirrors his own life’s experiences. Tunney captures everything: heaps of trash, scraps from his travels, pages from magazines, newspapers, books he’s read, gifts from nature, old photographs, and giant impressions in his mind. He combines them all with bold typography into a massive collage or a mural using his inimitable perspective.
What I love most about Tunney’s work is that he stands outside the conventional boundaries of art and design. He won’t conform. I respect that. He watches only the trend of his inner need which is reflected in his work as a spiritual impulse. His creative endeavours are infectious and can be found in numerous private and public installations around the world. His Miami gallery is situated in the very heart of the trendy Wynwood neighbourhood. The studio is his free space to express and be realized, to once again create magic, to indulge the viewer into finding an independent point of reference.
Tunney has found aesthetic bliss. He is filled with high hopes, and bursts with an incredible amount of energy. If you visit his studio, you can often just find him cycling around. He is every bit as inspiring as the refreshing phrases from his billboards that are placed in parts of the US and Canada. “I was driving into NYC, and everyday, I’d see the same billboards. And it all felt so fake… The messages you’re getting are drink, go to strip clubs, and take Prozac. I just want to put up a big billboard in Midtown that says “EVERYTHING IS OK”. Someone has to say that.”
Throughout his work, Tunney evokes a positive attitude to life with slogans such as: “BELIEVE”, “COURAGE”, “DON’T PANIC”, and “CHANGE THE WAY YOU SEE EVERYTHING”. All messages a trader would be well-served to place above his Bloomberg screen.
If you are wondering why “GRATTITUDE” is spelled with two T’s? It’s because in Tunney’s world, gratitude is an attitude! And this goes all the way back to the time when he was riding his bicycle home from a tennis match and got struck by a car. He reflects about the incident with a clarity of mind that was not always available to him before he started to crank out art to fill his void: “There are no accidents in the universe… If you’re in touch with gratitude, it almost doesn’t matter what happens to you—because shit is going to happen to you—it’s how you respond to it… if you’re grateful, then I think you’ve got everything.”