Tyler, the Creator’s prolific creativity (2024)

Tyler is a prolific creator. So, for the first in our Process Profile Series, we’re diving deep into Tyler, the Creator’s creative process.

“Hey, I’m Tyler. I make stuff.”

That is the best way to describe who Tyler, the Creator is and what he adds to the world. He recently gave an unconventional talk at Adobe’s MAX conference. He interviewed himself dressed as different characters. Answering the questions is Tyler himself. It’s odd, it’s fun and it’s quintessential Tyler.

If you don’t know Tyler’s work he’s best known as a rapper and co-founder of the Odd Future collective. Over the past 9 years, he’s written and produced 5 albums, created 2 TV shows, designed 2 clothing lines and more. Last year, the Wall Street Journal named him Innovator of the Year. He is a prolific creator. For our first Process Profile Series, we’re exploring Tyler, the Creator’s process.

Process for routine

Tyler wouldn’t strike many people as the routine type. He seems to always be creating and thinking about making. Though in several interviews he’s admitted to being a morning person. He prefers to wake early in the morning and not stay up late.

Process for focus

Most creative people look at a new composition will have something that first draws them in. According to Tyler, there are three areas to focus on — beat, melody and lyrics. When you’re listening to a song and there’s a part that draws you in, you can tell what you’re focus is in music. For Tyler, his focus is the beat. It’s his foundation in music. Lyrics are last for him even though he’s a rapper he prefers to have a good song structure before lyrics.

Process for when you’re stuck

Creating an album is a form of exploration and discovery. You may begin with an idea. Yet, over the weeks or months of writing and building the idea morphs into what it will become. Tyler approaches writing and producing in this way. He may start with a fraction of a melody, a few notes, a cool beat — whatever he’s into at the moment and he builds. In the middle of the writing process, if he’s not sure where it’s going he’ll ask what does he want the song to do. What does he want to feel? When writing a song off IGOR, he pictured he was in Studio 54 dancing and asked himself what made him want to dance. He found his answer. It was the chords. So he continued to build the song focusing on highlighting those chords.

Process for editing your work

Tyler’s work has definitely changed over the years. His earlier work was aggressive and filled with angst. Critics consider his newest album a rap album, yet he barely raps on it. For Tyler, this is about picking the right themes he wants to explore. His preference is still for the dark, the edgy and the raw. That still comes through, yet he shows restraint. He says “I like cinnamon, but you can’t put it on spaghetti.” Instead of approaching every new piece with only what he likes, he focuses on trying to build on the idea.Process for growth

In music and culture, it’s rare for an artist to progress. Some find that it’s hard to create the same magic that was in previous albums. It’s not uncommon to hear that an artist’s best album was their first one. Not for Tyler though. He’s 11 years into his creative career and his work is only getting better. He attributes this to passion, interest and a learning mindset. Not one to think he knows it all, he has an open mind. He gets inspired, though to him he hates that word. But he falls in love with something whether it’s a chord, a color palette or an aesthetic he gets into it. Diving headfirst to explore it. While he is into what he’s created, he believes there’s still more to explore, more to learn and more to contribute.

For more on Tyler, the Creator, watch his interview from the Adobe MAX. As well, listen to his conversation with Rick Ruben on the Broken Record podcast.

The Process Profile Series explores the behind the scenes work of innovative people. We’ll dive deep into their routines, habits, customs and processes for ideating.

Tyler, the Creator’s prolific creativity (2024)


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