Walking into Lyle Owerko’s multi-level space at Thirty Four Fifty West, it is immediately evident that he is an impactful force in the world of art. His framed works, in progress pieces, pop culture-influenced interiors — all striking components of his beautifully reimagined residence and a unique glimpse into the workings of his mind.
Lyle first came to prominence when his photograph of the World Trade Center attack on September 11, 2001 landed on the cover of Time Magazine — later recognized as one of the top 50 covers of all time. His groundbreaking Boombox Project then gained him worldwide acclaim, with his pieces housed in many of the world’s most respected art institutions as well as collected by the likes of Jay-Z, Beyonce, Madonna and Swizz Beatz. Today, Lyle’s full-time studio at Thirty Four Fifty West has kickstarted his next chapter of work in Los Angeles.
Designed to be a flexible canvas for his most visionary ideas, Lyle’s four-story space is equal parts creative lab, art gallery and creative atelier, complete with a modern minimalist library, multimedia studio space, dream home office, garage turned workshop/professional-grade printing shop and more. For a deeper look inside, we sat down with Lyle to gain insight into his ingenuity, how he makes the most of his space at Thirty Four Fifty West and why the community truly is “the gift that keeps on giving.”
Can you tell us a bit about what you do and how you typically use your space at Thirty Four Fifty West on a daily basis?
I’m a Fine Art photographer, represented both in the United States and internationally. Among my most recognizable works is the image I shot for the cover of Times Magazine’s September 11, 2001 issue. Since then, my practice has expanded into film, sculpture and, most recently, digital arts that sell on a blockchain enabled platform. In my current projects, I seek to bridge ethnic and geographic borders in a manner that documents cultural grounds for the betterment of the human condition.
I use my space at Thirty Four Fifty West solely for creative purposes, so I typically start my day in Los Feliz at home — which is just a ten-minute drive from the office. Coffee is a must after getting my two-year-old son started on his day, then I’ll head into the office while tuned into the events of the day on Bloomberg, NPR or CNN. That sets my sights on what I need to accomplish in the studio.
You have done an incredible job repurposing each space to fulfill your creative needs. Can you tell us a little bit about what you did to achieve this?
I added a set of floor-to-ceiling shelves that brought my book collection out of their boxes and to life again. I brought most of them from my New York City home and I can gladly say they’re enjoying the lovely California light now. I also have a printing lab in the garage where works from current and future shows are staged. Working inside the garage has allowed me to meet a lot of fascinating people in the Thirty Four Fifty West community.
Another major plus is the design of the units. The vertical structure of the space is incredibly open, has amazing light and is an extremely productive, peaceful place to call “home” for all my creative endeavors.
Any tips for achieving the perfect work environment?
Fast-speed WiFi, a fridge stocked with healthy eats for refueling throughout the day and a constant flow of music. That’s been my survival kit for the last six months.
What’s your favorite thing about working at Thirty Four Fifty West?
Thirty Four Fifty West has been the gift that keeps giving. It’s close to home, its access from all over Los Angeles is unprecedented and there’s a community here that thrives on finding out what your neighbors are making, creating and doing.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not at home?
My wife and I are avid travelers. A giant part of our relationship is exploring beaches, cities and as many far-off locations that we can fit into a year. She is also a fine artist, so we feed a lot off of each other with sourcing inspiration and sharing in each other’s creative practices.
Where do you want to travel to next with the family?
I’d like to take my wife and son to Hawaii. The island of Kauai is particularly meaningful to us, but if we’re really feeling adventurous, we’ll probably go to Tahiti.
If you could only eat at three restaurants in the local area, where would you go?
We’re big fans of All-Time, SugarFish and the 101 Cafe. We also frequent Home State a lot — our son loves it there because we can sit outside and watch traffic pass by.