Diana Dee (McAbee) Tyler was born in 1947 in Salina, Kansas. Her family has deep Kansas roots: her great grandfather was a buffalo hunter who later settled in Kansas. Her grandfather, born in a sod house in Mitchell County, Kansas in 1878, earned a degree from the Kansas State Normal School (later Emporia State University) and ran 16 small newspapers in the Emporia area. He also studied art in New York City, taught school in the Philippines, and traveled to China.
Although Tyler spent her early childhood years in Salina and Emporia, her home from 1952-1970 was in Topeka, where she attended Washburn University for two years following her 1965 graduation from Shawnee Heights High School. After transferring to the University of Kansas in 1966, she received her bachelor of fine arts degree in 1970.
The pioneer spirit of her Kansas forebears is reflected in the manner Tyler pursued her lifelong interests in nature, art, and world cultures. Early jobs at the Seamammal Motivational Institute (1970-1971) and as staff artist of the Maine Times (1971-1972) were followed by a horizon-broadening, low-budget backpacking trip around the world (1972-1974) traveling in Europe, North Africa, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.
After marrying in Bali, Indonesia in 1973, she and Harry R. (Hank) Tyler, Jr. settled in his native state of Maine. While living on Westport Island (1974-1979), D. D. illustrated newspaper center spreads about nature, some written by Hank Tyler, for the Maine Times. She began producing illustrations for books and also created limited-edition prints and commissioned paintings, mainly depicting the wildlife of the region.
Subsequently Tyler diversified her artistic output while living in Augusta from 1979-1983 and Hallowell from 1983-2014 with her husband and two children. In addition to her illustrations for children's books, Tyler Publishing (established 1977) has produced natural-history prints, posters, cards and, from 1989-2014, designs for t-shirts for Liberty Graphics. Tyler Publishing maintained a booth at the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Annual Common Ground Fair for 29 years. Tyler's Liberty Graphics t-shirts were marketed in museums, aquaria, zoos, catalogues, and shops in the United States and also internationally in Japan, Germany, England, France (one outlet in the Louvre), and other countries She created exclusive designs for Monterey Bay Aquarium, San Diego Zoo, the Smithsonian, the Nature Company, the Discovery Channel, and others.
Over the years the continuing desire to travel was satisfied by trips to Japan, France, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and China. During the 1990s Tyler also led natural-history tours in Costa Rica and Ecuador (Galapagos). This year, 2018, after a four year lapse, Tyler will be designing for Liberty Graphics again. The Tylers live in Kansas and Australia.
This is an online version of a physical exhibit that was on display in Kenneth Spencer Research Library from May through August 2018. The exhibit was created by Karen S. Cook, Special Collections Librarian. Email Karen S. Cook.