Deciding as a senior at Crossroads that he wanted a career as a fine artist was “risky and insane,” concedes Wyatt Mills, but at the time, it made sense. “And I had some maniacal confidence.”
After all, he’d already written in a notebook at age 11, “I want to be Monet.”
His confidence has proved justified. So far, he’s had several solo shows and numerous group exhibitions, with more on the way. And he has painted murals for Hansen’s soda and Snapchat, whose co-founder and CEO, Evan Spiegel ’08, commissioned Wyatt after attending one of his shows.
Reviewers have called Wyatt’s multimedia paintings “surreal,” “visceral” and “invitingly vibrant” and described his portraits as stretching “past the figurative into an attraction that is strange and monstrous.” His goal, he says, is to convey the chaos inside us all and reveal truths beneath the surface. “It’s normal to feel you don’t know what’s going on, to have self-doubt,” he says. “I want to glorify that side of ourselves we try to silence.”
After graduating with a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York, he moved back to LA. In 2016, he made another big move—to Berlin, Germany, for an artist residency. “My routine in LA was getting too bland, too comfortable,” he says. His solution: Hit the refresh button.
He believes in inviting serendipity. “I needed to travel in an unknown direction. That’s how I like to make paintings, too,” he explains. “Sometimes you have to be brave and destroy something you’ve created.”
After his residency, Wyatt moved into a new studio in Berlin and, inspired by the eclectic art scene, settled in for the foreseeable future. He has a commission for a new mural and two shows lined up.
His Crossroads teachers encouraged him to pursue art while cautioning him about the realities. But he has no choice. For now, he’s experimenting and adding to his artistic vocabulary. “I’m at the beginning of my career,” he says. “I’m just riding the wind.”