Using his face as a canvas, Lyle transforms garbage that was headed to landfills into works of wearable art. While taking recycling to a whole new creative level, Lyle XOX (Lyle’s alter-ego) is garnering a huge (even Cher is a fan) Instagram following captivated by the self-portraits of him wearing his art.

Lyle was recently invited by Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group to do a week long creative residency at our IHQ. During a talk about his professional journey, we got a glimpse of the man behind the masks. 

Who is Lyle? 

Growing up in a tiny village in Saskatchewan and going on to have international accolades from media and fashion giants like the New York Times and Vogue Italia would change most people. For Lyle, not so much. He’s remained the same sweet, talented and humble person he’s always been. Knowing from a young age that his calling was to be an artist, he followed his creative passions without looking back. He eventually landed in Vancouver (he’s called the city home for the last 20 years) to study and hone his craft.

Lyle presenting the 3 art pieces he created during his residence at Cirque du Soleil.
Lyle presenting the 3 art pieces he created during his residence at Cirque du Soleil.

Art made of found and recycled objects? Really? 

Where others see a discarded plastic bottle, PVC pipes or even turkey bones, Lyle sees inspiration. For him it’s all raw material just waiting to be given new life. He believes that it doesn’t take much to create something beautiful from the ordinary. Transforming unwanted objects that anyone could recognize from their own home is a channel for Lyle to connect with people. He makes you look at the familiar through a new lense and see beauty instead of garbage. A bottle of olive oil, tuna cans, a carpet – for Lyle they all have something to say, a story just waiting for him to unleash.

“My whole process: how do you make something cool 

with nothing?” 

Lyle Reimer, multimedia artist 

What about his residency? 

In the last few months here we’ve been exploring boundary pushing concepts in the world of makeup (to get an idea just look at what CYX is doing with sticky makeup). During his week with us, Lyle opened our eyes to both the creative, and sustainable possibilities of his work. It was a common site at IHQ to see Lyle collecting scraps of unwanted costume fabrics and other objects. With them he crafted masks and makeup designs. He also ideated with us on how Cirque du Soleil could optimize our materials by reusing them in our experiences. The insights equipped us with tangible ways to make our own supply chain more sustainable.

Here are three of his creations made here at Cirque du Soleil IHQ! 

Look #1 Lyle
Look # 1
Materials used: Beam (protective layer) and acrobatic harness
Look # 2
Materials used: 2 volleyballs, lace, zippers and handle of an industrial valve
Look #3
Look # 3
Materials used: Water bottle, bra clips and pre-dyed elastics leather straps

“I am so grateful to be here at Cirque du Soleil! It was a dream come true.” 

Lyle Reimer, multimedia artist 

How did it all start? 

“I always felt like an alien,” says Lyle. Even in kindergarten, his drawings were just different from his friends. In elementary school, while most were whipping around on their bikes, Lyle was the one riding a unicycle.  

What we could call Lyle’s first piece, some clown makeup, was made with red Chanel Lipstick. A most sophisticated clown indeed! From that day on, he’s never stopped creating. After high school, Lyle travelled to Cuba to teach art in a disadvantaged area. The limitations there in terms of art material was no barrier to him. It simply fueled Lyle to show the students how they could create something outstanding with barely anything: “Let’s make something amazing with… brown paint,” he remembers shouting to his class. 

Lyle credits his passion for makeup, and the support of his mom (the Queen of Recycling as he likes to call her) to follow his dreams, as inspirations for him to transform found objects into makeup and masks.  

Career wise, what were the steps? 

After Cuba, Lyle moved to Vancouver to work as a makeup artist on film sets. He liked it at first, but quickly realized that the movie crew lifestyle wasn’t for him. He then worked at MAC Cosmetics, and things just clicked. Lyle embraced initiatives like their ‘Five Day Makeup Challenge’ designed to get makeup artists thinking outside of the box by breaking out of their makeup habits and trying new looks for five days.

That type of creative challenge inspired Lyle to focus even more on those aspects of himself that made him different. Today, Lyle is a full-time artist, and “living his best life,” he says. 

In Lyle’s words

Do what you love!! am in my bathroomalmost 40 years old. I am sticking garbage on my face and creating art with it. And I am happier than ever before.” 

When asked if he ever experienced periods of self-doubt about the path he was on, he replied: Every artist has his ups and downs, but generally, no, not for thisWhen you find your creative wayembrace it and follow that voice. Just do itdon’t question it if you feel it is a part of you.” Words to live, and create by.

Raw, colorful, human…that’s Lyle. To see for yourself take a look at his other projects on his personal Instagram.

See you soon Lyle! We loved working with you.  

Sources:  Rizzoli, New York  

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