Ty got his first potter's wheel at the age of 11 and also began work in sculpture. His painting background and his strong interest in the natural world has led to incorporating painted, carved or sculptured animals and birds in to his work with clay, often using the three-dimensional functional and nonfunctional forms as canvases to paint on. He continued his studies in painting, drawing and pottery throughout high school and in college at New Mexico State University and the University of Colorado, where he studied biology and art. Ty moved to New England in 1963 and spent 38 years teaching environmental biology while continuing his art work. In 1972 he founded the Deparbnent of Environmental Studies at Antioch University New England in Keene, N.H., which offers several masters degrees and a Ph.D. in environmental studies. He was chair of the department from 1972 to 1999.