"Deep and darkly whimsical, Tai’s intricately detailed drawings envision an alternate universe in its post-apocalyptic throes. His world is inhabited by a menagerie of black-and-white beasts: warthogs, giraffes, crocodiles, bats, monkeys, mammoths and aliens. Tai’s animalistic art is avant-garde yet accessible and delightfully disturbing. Skulls, guns and gas masks on rabbits reflect the angst-ridden ethos of the modern era. Anarchy looms. Images comment on war, industry and environmental degradation through the peaceful strokes of an artist." - Fort Worth Magazine
In the early 1980’s, growing up bi-racial in the predominantly Caucasian suburbs of Salt Lake City, Utah, Tai self-identified as an outcast. Afflicted with cultural identity angst, Tai experienced some turbulent teenage years, but he was fortunate to discover that the arts were a remedy to expressing his frustrations. Through his artistic explorations Tai realized his auto-didactic ability, leading to experimentation with a variety of art-forms, including graffiti and tattoo work, but no medium has captured and retained his affections as strongly as drawing with a ballpoint pen, resulting in it being his central focus for most of his artistic career.
Tai has built a following of over half a million followers combined on social media platforms and he has sold thousands of his original artworks worldwide. For more than a decade, Tai has toured the globe with his wife and two children, demonstrating the versatility of ballpoint pen through the trafficking of his artwork at galleries and art fairs.
In 2020 the Covid-19 pandemic reached the U.S. and drastically altered Tai's art career. At the hands of the pandemic, Tai's travel and show schedules were eradicated entirely. He utilized the time off to finish a nearly 7-year total rehab project, turning an 1851 pre-civil war home into his own studio and gallery with rentable Airbnb loft in America's hometown of Hannibal, Missouri.
The pandemic shutdowns forced the closing of physical galleries that offer Tai's work across the world, prompting him to develop new ways to reach his collectors. Throughout most of 2020, Tai hosted biweekly remote drawing sessions with his audience, entitled ‘Drink and Draw With Tai’. He also released a children's book, co-created with his wife, and a coffee table book featuring his drawings of tentacles, entitled “Book of Arms”.
In 2021 Tai launched a YouTube series called DOD45 (Drawing Over Discussions) where he interviews a special guest for 45 minutes while creating a custom drawing for them. Past guests include Sage Francis, Ceschi, Awol One, Doseone, Ron Allen, B. Dolan, Illogic, Carlos Condit, Moodie Black, Factor Chandelier, DJ Hoppa, Sole, Greg Lutzka, Blockhead, DJ Qbert, Prolyphic, Yoni Wolf, Mr. Dibbs & Slug of Atmosphere.
“I'm an American/Samoan artist creating artworks with inspiration generated by music, daily observations and a fondness for nostalgia & craft hip hop. I’ve utilized decades of self-taught techniques, cultivated with an aggressive work ethic, in an effort to create art that evokes an introspective experience. My creations spawn from an organic subconscious journey, manifested more by virtue of my own self-evaluation and less of propagating my ideology.” - Tai Taeoalii
A: My inspiration derives from music and the nostalgic memories of my turbulent teenage years. I’ve experimented with all kinds of art-forms including painting, tattoo, graffiti, music and film, but none of them have captured and retained my affections as strongly as the standard ballpoint pen has for over 30 years. Really, my style was cultivated from a mix of urban doctrines and an appetite for authenticity and abnormality.
A: Influence of my actual work ethic came from my father, but artistically Salvador Dali always inspired me. His work was my earliest influence. Even as a young kid I remember being stoked to see an artist consistently creating “outside of the box” art. As I got older my inspiration came more from people and their qualities as a person rather than their abilities as an artist. I’ve always appreciated people who are willing to explore, regardless of the outcome.
A: When I'm drawing, I prefer listening to instrumental-based music, but I also listen to a lot of craft hip hop. While my drawing playlist is eccentric & loaded with music from hundreds of different artists, I will always have music by Silver Mt. Zion, Godpeed! You Black Emperor, Portishead, Aesop Rock, and Bon Iver.
A: I enjoy creating album covers on occasion. I don't have a set price, but I'm fair. I usually charge a price for the design, and then a separate price for exclusive rights to the design. Most bands opt for just the design and that is usually sufficient. On a couple of occasions, after the band gained traction and became more popular and were making more money, they came back and bought the exclusive rights, which I'm okay with doing as well. If you're definitely interested in an album cover design, forward me some music and your album title. Most importantly, I've got to be inspired by the music in some way....after hearing the music, we can go from there.
A: I am honored that you consider me for your design, but I will not. Mostly because I just don’t have the bandwidth to take on commission work. Also, it doesn't service my style well. My drawing is very organic and self-evaluative. My work gets it's value from my pace & my experiences. Drawing an idea for someone, looses all of that. I really am honored that you'd tattoo yourself with my work and you're more than welcome to get any of my other pieces tattooed. You're also free to forward me your ideas and if I subconsciously start drawing from the ideas at some point, you can use that.
A: Without art, we'd be a society of primates throwing feces at one another
Add an answer to this item.A: Authentic, passion driven art. Work that makes you feel. I see a lot of that kind of work come from self-taught artists, i.e. street artists.
A: Working with a ballpoint pen is my absolute favorite. I'm really able to dive all the way in mentally, and I really like being able to do that.
A: Probably the most inspirational artist for me was Salvador Dali. Current artists that I’m fond of are Herakut, Erick Weir, Brusk, Phlegm, Dulk1, PEZ and Craola.
A: It's the only thing that I do that makes me feel real, rooted & in perfect balance.
A: I don't subscribe to that cliche. When I'm creating I prefer to be alone, but I don't ever feel lonely.
A: I don't care much for the elitists or the pompous attitudes many artists have. Other than that, I'm cool with whatever. I’m also currently suspicious of all the NFT influence on “artists” Not totally against it, not totally for it, as of February 2022, I am just suspicious of it.
A: Some kind of major museum installation that would contain all of my original pen drawings on giant white walls...I've also wrote a film about my Samoan heritage many years back, & would love to one day have the time & finances to produce & direct that.
A: I always appreciate when people immediately recognize my Dali influence but I prefer to stand alone.