Pies, love, and understanding
Artist and designer by day, pizza server by night, mimosa pourer by brunch – Tyler Wallach is mixing it up, with a little help from his boss
I’m a server by night, and a hell of a mimosa pourer by brunch.
But like most New Yorkers, you have a creative sideline – explain
When I’m not taking orders, I spend my time painting. I’m a visual artist who paints using acrylic marker and watercolor. I then have high-res images taken of my paintings and manipulate those images and format them on to textiles for printing on fabrics for clothing. The visual art lends itself to my textile and fashion design background – it’s a nice yin and yang. Every time I have an art show, I create a line of clothing using the paintings and spend time working on that. I go back and forth between visual art and fashion every six months.
What inspires you?
I’m very inspired by great artists who came from their hometown and moved to New York City to follow their dream. At the end of the day, if you don’t take yourself seriously, how the hell can you expect anybody else to? I’m inspired by my LGBTQIA community, Andy Warhol, Takashi Murakami, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, Amanda Lepore, Ben Copperwheat, Ron English, and Jon Burgerman.
OK, so .. an average day, what does that look like?
I wake up, pound some coffee, hit the gym or yoga, work for a few hours on any art/design projects, shower, and I’m off to work by 3pm. We eat family-meal together at 3.30pm and start setting up for service at 4pm to open by 5pm. We SERVE IT HUNTY, YAAAS, until about 10pm or 11pm depending on the night, and I’m home in Harlem by midnight. Not bad.
Best thing about the job?
Annabel's GM, Brianne Meyers. She’s been in the business of running restaurants in New York City for a long time and her understanding of staff is very refreshing. She gets that we’re all working artists and we’re encouraged to succeed outside of work. She’s the first person to congratulate me when I book art shows and pop-up shops that require me to take time off of work. It’s a tight-knit family of working artists and we always help each other out with covering shifts. It’s a dream. Because, I’ll tell you, I’m working as a server in NYC going on for four years. And the absolute worst situation is to have a boss/manager who doesn’t care about your life outside of work and treats you like a soulless robot. You can’t live like that.
Any famous faces?
The cast of Hamilton slowly converted each other into Annabel fanatics. One came, loved it, and brought others back. I won’t say exactly who, but for a stretch of about three months, we had cast members from Hamilton in every night. We loved it.
What's the dream?
I’m incredibly lucky to say I’m already living most of what I dreamed up for myself. However, now I’d like to raise the stakes. I want to have a massive art show that showcases my paintings as well as a line of clothing inspired by the pieces. The presentation of the work would be incredibly interactive and colorful. Recently I custom-painted a friend’s $15,000 Birkin bag! How weird, right? I love it. I just want to keep making colorful art for colorful people.
Where else in HK do you hang out?
Gotta show some love to our neighbors who we love, Flaming Saddles. I’m from Houston myself, so a night cap and frito pie at Saddles makes me feel right at home. Also, Alfie’s is right across the street from us and we hang there too.
This interview originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of W42ST magazine. Stay in touch with W42ST and be first to read stories like this when you receive our daily newsletter. Join the conversation at w42st.com.