Abstract artist Tyler Foust is known for his intricate line drawings formed from one continuous, non-intersecting line. A quote on his website even dubs him “Reddit’s most upvoted artist,” and it’s not hard to see why. “Lines direct eyes and can create some interesting illusions,” Foust tells My Modern Met. And that is why the artist has been fascinated with line art since he was just a kid. But that fascination didn’t immediately lead him to pursue the life of an artist. In fact, what started out as just a hobby to keep his mind focused during grad school lectures eventually evolved into a unique style of creating art that is utterly captivating in its tangled intricacy.
“Our lectures lasted four hours, and I knew that I would not be able to give my attention to lectures for that long unless I figured out an activity that would keep my mind in check,” Foust says of his time as a grad student studying Healthcare Administration. “So, I came up with this idea to draw repetitive line-work during lectures. I would create a few simple rules that dictated where to place my lines so that I did not have to put much brain power into the art. The idea was to draw on ‘autopilot’ with no pre-determination of what the final piece would look like.”
The artist made sure to explain what he was doing to his professors ahead of time to make sure they knew this activity was keeping him engaged rather than creating a distraction. And when his cache of doodles began growing into quite the collection, Foust decided to start documenting his creations on Instagram before he eventually tossing them in the trash. The artist didn’t begin to understand the value in his work until he saw the reactions he was getting on social media, with one “internet stranger” even offering to buy several of his pieces for hundreds of dollars.
From that point on, Foust began to take his work a bit more seriously and even endeavored to develop and refine his own unique style. “I decided to re-create my style by composing pictures built from one non-intersecting line,” the artist explains. “By one line, I don’t mean that I did not lift the pen. I simply mean that the picture itself was composed of one giant line. I fell in love with the one-line style, and I began to incorporate shapes with the negative space.”
Later on, after a foreign company began selling his artwork on apparel without his permission, Foust started to hide his signature (TFOUST) somewhere inside each of his one-line pieces. Then, he realized that he could actually hide a whole lot more and began to disperse a variety of hidden images throughout his line drawings—including everything from animals to various objects and even names.
And because each piece is so complex, every one of Foust’s line drawings starts out as a detailed draft. “The draft is the most important part because once I commit to the final piece, I cannot make mistakes,” the artist explains. “I can’t erase pen on canvas. With the more intricate pieces, I spend a lot of time mapping out where to move my line next. The most challenging aspect is trying not to cut off my line path. It is like playing Snake, but losing is a lot more frustrating.”
But in spite of that, Foust has learned to appreciate each piece of the puzzle that goes into crafting one of his intricate artworks. Though, that wasn’t always the case. “Ironically, I never enjoyed art classes in school,” Foust admits. “I always felt that the focus was on a final product, and it stressed me out…The moment I began to excel dramatically was the moment I realized how to enjoy the process more than my expectations of the final output. Once I mastered this concept, my style organically formed itself.”
Scroll down to see some of Foust’s intricate works of continuous line art, and see if you can find the hidden objects dispersed throughout his line drawing compositions. For more from the artist, follow him on Instagram. And you can even purchase one of his works for yourself by visiting his shop on Etsy.