“I am so happy you are here.” With this bravely tender line, Tyler Gaca aka @ghosthoney leads us into Part 1 of Gentle Chaos: Poems, Tales, and Magic, a dreamy compendium of artworks written and visual that explore magic, queerness, Tyler’s unique story, and the enchantment and comfort to be found in the weird, the dark, and the different. We invited Tyler to join us for a Q&A discussing the creation of this enchanting book, the companion Gentle Chaos Guided Journal and Gentle Chaos Pocket Oracle Deck, and more!
The full collection is on sale now! View a special message for readers from Tyler himself and find the official book tour schedule here.
RP Mystic Interviews Tyler Gaca
RP Mystic: Tell us about Gentle Chaos for anyone who may be new to you and your work.
Tyler Gaca: Gentle Chaos is a collection of poems, stories, and original artwork that revolve around themes of magic, love, travel, death, and so much more! I created Gentle Chaos under the mindset that this book would exist in the world long after I’m gone. So when it comes to being remembered and the words you leave behind I wanted to leave behind a little book full of everything I loved. There’s a little poem in the book where I talk about what we leave behind, and how sad I get when I experience forgotten history. For example, go through abandoned vintage photographs at antique malls, and it ends with “please do not forget my love” and I think that’s a perfect phrase to sum up the whole book.
RP: We know you’ve been working on Gentle Chaos since 2021. At one point early on in the book, you mentioned spending some time writing from a cozy cabin in Lake Arrowhead. Can you tell us more about what the creation process was like for you?
TG: I spent four days working on the book from a small cabin in Lake Arrowhead and it was so inspiring and also a little scary. It’s a little under a two hour drive from where I live in LA but it feels almost a world away. I wrote all of Halloween, Haunted & Sensitive, Shirley Temple, and The Man of Mist, and a few of the poems while I was there. I would wake up and kind of laze around the cabin, work for a few hours in strong creative bursts, take a break to drive around the town and get take out, and come back to work for a few more hours. As it got darker it would suddenly feel very ominous and isolating. I would then sit in the hot tub by myself for an hour looking out at the trees until I got too scared and would go inside and close all the blinds. But I think those feelings were good for the writing process maybe, you can definitely sense them in the writings I did while I was there. I think especially in The Man of Mist.
RP: We love how you gave us a behind-the-scenes look at shooting the book cover on your TikTok. In it, you mention that you had a really specific vision for the cover—how did you come upon that vision?
TG: As soon as we discussed shooting something for the cover of the book I had this idea. I knew the book was going to be small so from far away I wanted to look like a flamboyant Shakespearian actor holding a bouquet in front of a hand painted stage background. But as you get closer you realize it’s a photo with a sort of hodgepodge “kid playing dress up” element. It’s packed with references to works inside the book. I’m wearing my baby blanket as a cape, I’m wearing the curtains from my college apartment (East Town Street) as a sash, three lunar moths to represent Three States, Three Homes, Third Child, even the types of flowers- pink carnations for my great grandmother, wild flowers from outside our house. It’s almost like a still life packed with significant imagery that is elaborated on and explained as you work your way through the book.
RP: There is such a range of art in the book—photography, hand-written poems, illustrations, and so much more—what was the curation process like for you? Did the art come first, or the poetry, or the essays? Or was it everything all at once? Did anything get left out?
TG: It was sort of all at once. The very first original images I created for the book were the scanned in objects- the seashells, wedding day roses, teeth, etc. I think the first poem I wrote for the book was maybe St Pete & Stinson Beach. I think throughout the whole book I was constantly working back and forth between the writing and imagery because I wanted them to both be of equal importance. Even when I only had the first 30 pages of the book done it was still very representative of what the final book would end up looking like I think – an eclectic blend of imagery, words and artwork. If there was a day where writing wasn’t coming naturally I would use that time to go through images or work on a drawing/painting and vice versa. If there was a day where I wasn’t feeling creative I would use my energy to focus on editing or rearranging my manuscript.
RP: In the Gentle Chaos Guided Journal, there’s a prompt that asks about having an unexplainable affinity to any particular animal or time period—how would you answer this question? And why does this particular animal or time period speak to you?
TG: I think I would specifically be a deer at the Burbank side of Forest Lawn Cemetery. I’d like to be something herbivorous. I love how they wander the cemetery eat the fresh flowers left on the graves and then wander off to sleep in the shade of the trees. I just love how gentle and strong they are. I love how they silently wander the graveyard and do as they please they feel almost mystical to me. As for time period, I think realistically I am thriving best in the time period I was born into lol. I love the aesthetic of 70s fashion and interior design but I love my modern day conveniences too much.
RP: What advice would you give to fellow sensitive and queer artists who feel like they’re stuck in a creative rut?
TG: I would say one of the best things you can do is go somewhere new and try something new! And it doesn’t have to be a four day stint in a cabin in the woods. Sometimes just checking out a new museum or park by your house can be inspiring. I also think not being afraid to try a new medium can be life changing as an artist. I considered myself a strict painter/only a painter for a long time. So when I didn’t feel like painting or had artists block I would feel like a failure of an artist. Now when I don’t feel like painting I turn to writing, or pick up my film camera, try collaging, or most recently I bought an old camcorder that I’m currently obsessed with filming my friends on. And all of those things can be as valuable a form of art making as whatever art it is that you hold the highest in your head.
RP: Alright, alright, we have to ask—what’s the story behind the scans labeled as “our teeth”?
TG: Those are me and my husbands teeth haha. They’re mostly his, he’s had a lot of teeth removed, but the one wisdom tooth I had removed is in there too. I love that page. Gentle Chaos kind of explores this underlying panic and then acceptance of death that every single person goes through. There’s this hunger and need we have as humans to leave something meaningful behind- art, stories, etc. And there are people like me who have a magpie-like tendency to hold on to everything sentimental for fear that it will one day be forgotten. I still have a couple of roses from our wedding day celebration that are scanned in on the opposite page. Certain mementos will last longer than others. Eventually those roses will disappear and wither away, but those teeth may still be here after we’re gone like my book. They are both just mementos that prove we were alive, and loved, and lost. Different objects saying the same thing “Please do not forget my love.”