I was one of the lucky winners of his book giveaway at OFFF Barcelona this year. After his presentation I knew he deserved a spot on our magazine. This is by far the most interesting interview i've done. Check it out.
For the giveaway please scroll down to the bottom of the interview.
First of all we would like to thank you for taking the time to provide abduzeedo.com with this interview. Please tell us more about your art and design background and what made you become an artist and designer?
You're welcome! It's nice to meet you and be invited to talk to your readers. To start off, my name is Timba. I'm a graphic artist originally from Melbourne now living in London. I first got into art and design like most passionate artists or designers… it came naturally. I grew up on a healthy diet of drawing, saturday morning cartoons, sunday cowboys and indians movies, lego and models. When i got to grade five (age 10) i won the class drawing competition for my sooper-rad-to-the-max drawing of Raphael (my favourite ninja turtle) in a fight with Shredder (evil bad dude). I remember feeling like i was famous in the school for the guy who could draw good. i also won a set of coloured pencils which i thought was the best prize ever and i'd never really won anything before so i thought hey… if you can win pencils being an artist then fuck! I'm going to be an artist when i grow up. From here i studied art all through high school and aimed to be the greatest artist that ever lived. Then i learnt about bills. So, i took a short course in how to use computers and become a graphic designer and like they say… the rest history. Well, not really because i've got a long way to go and mountains to achieve yet. I believe to be good at something takes time, to be great takes a lifetime! It's funny because i always said i'd never have a job or work in some field that meant i'd have to use a computer because i fucking hate them and now look at me? haha! But, i wouldn't have it any other way now as i believe my background has made me the graphic designer i am today with an original style and great reputation and my graphic design career has also helped me develop my art in ways i could never have imagined.
How did you come up with your style, what made you explore more this style and what in your opinion is the main characteristic of it?
This is a rather common question and my response is always honest. It's been an evolution of 15 years of experimenting, success, failure, trial and error to get my work to where it's at today. I think it's important to evolve as an artist and always attempt to try new things. What i'm doing now is better than what i was doing back then but still has a connection to an underlining style that has been with me from day one. I'm very interested in and inspired by the past so my work has a very kitsch or nostalgic visual tone. I dislike the term 'retro' used to describe my work as that is a term used commonly in an attempt to make things look vintage. I don't try to make my work look vintage, my work is just looks vintage because of the processes i adopt to make my work which is very traditional. The main characteristic of my work is that it is almost always 3 parts hand made, 1 part computer finished. This is a result of my background in art and illustration. It's always been this way for as long as i've been making art and probably always will be and that is purely a reflection of the things i love. I love old signage, Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Errol Flynn movies, the pinup art of Mel Ramos and George Petty, rock n roll, rockabilly culture and girly magazines. Seriously, sometimes i believe i was born in the wrong era! Take me back to the 50's!
How would you break down your workflow in steps?
Everything starts with an idea. I like to go on walks with a notepad in hand to look for my ideas. There's a power in being outside that you cannot replace with a computer and the internet. I get my ideas from the things i see around me. I like to people watch, interact with the friendly staff of my local coffee haunt and look for signs in the environment that may spark an idea. I will then sketch these ideas down before heading back to the studio to begin drafting something up. I then spend a few hours creating quick draft sketches of whatever the hell i'm working on. Once i have my idea down on paper, my composition sorted and a process in mind i will start the time-consuming part… making it come to life. Now this varies depending on what i'm working on. If it's a pinup i will render the entire illustration by hand using 2B pencils. The finished drawing then gets scanned with minor adjustments made and coloured using photoshop. Because i silk-screen a lot of my work i halftone bitmap most of my drawing which give it that lo-fidelity look you see in my work. This is a classic process in screenprinting. However, if it's a character or some type i'm working on i'll just jump straight onto the computer after completing my rough draft and finish my design using illustrator to create my vectors. But then sometimes i will print my vectors out, cut them back using masking tape, sand paper and ever water to create my distressed look before scanning these back in and converting them to bitmaps. So my workflow is always very HANDS ON. You wont see me using any photoshop filters, i'm oldschool man!
What's the importance of the computer in the creative process?
Well, it's a very important tool i must say. But one that i keep at a distance as i prefer making things by hand. I treat the computer as a finishing tool. The final step between my ideas and getting my art reproduced. This is generally speaking however I run a magazine and the computer plays a HUGE part in the production of this. At the end of designing an issue you would be able to hear me from miles away screaming i never want to look at a computer screen ever again. haha!
I am a big fan of your Wooden Toy Quarterly books. Please tell our reader how everything started & what your books are about?
Thanks! Wooden Toy Quarterly was a zine i first started in 2006 with a friend at the time. It was created first and foremost as a diary of the cool creative things we were seeing surrounding the culture of skateboarding - hence the name 'Wooden Toy' which, is an old slang word for a skateboard. In the beginning, Wooden Toy was more focused around the creative lifestyle of skaters who made art, photos and other creative shit. Over time it's evolved into more of what i call a lowbrow culture Boogazine (half book/half magazine) about art, design, photography, street culture, fashion, extreme sports and everything else in between. It's a real mixed bag of lollies! But don't let the name fool you… Wooden Toy Quarterly is the only quarterly boogazine to come out once per year and proud of it. haha! A result of the amount of hours that go into each edition with 1000 being poured into the last edition alone. It started off as an A5 86 page soft cover sine into the 160 page fully packaged and numbered book it is today complete with print inserts and even a certificate of authenticity to seal the detail with a kiss. It's an evolution that would make Charles Darwin blush! To touch briefly on the differences of Wooden Toy compared to anything else in the print magazine scene today you will find contents pages made to look like epic artworks in their own right, page layouts so beautiful you could frame them, no advertisements and over 35,000 words to sort through featuring in-depth interviews and features on some of the worlds most inspiring and emerging artists. There's no rules to Wooden Toy, it's whatever goes. See for yourself www.woodentoypublishingco.com
Apart from the profits, what type of satisfaction do you get from your work?
Profits? what profits? We do this for the love of it don't we? haha! To put it simply I chose a different path to a lot of people. One built on integrity and a quality of work likened to a master painter. I've never been motivated by making dollar profits or being rich however i'm the richest man alive in knowing that i get to do exactly what i love doing every day of my life. They say you are what you do, well, it's true! But the downside to this is struggle street. It's been a hard road with lots of sacrifices i've had to make along the way but one that has been incredibly fulfilling knowing that my work inspires and influences thousands of people around the world. It's a powerful thing to be able to inspire someone and so i'm thankful i got to experience that in my life. I'm blessed.
What are your favorite 5 websites, and why?
- A great reference website for vintage and kitsch design. Drool worthy!
- A great website for lowbrow art, illustration and street art.
- Documenting UK street art and street art related events.
- A website by artist Jeff Hamada that fosters a community of creative people for arts sake.
- Because it makes me laugh! Everytime!
Any advice for those who are starting out their career? What kind of references are important for those who want to work with this kind of style?
Geez! Where to start. There is so much i would have liked to hear when i was starting out so i think i'll go with some of the BIG things i've learned along the way. Be Authentic! The most powerful tool you have as an artist is your individuality, your own unique style and look on things. It's time to stop listening and looking at what others are doing and make your own mark. If you want to reference something then reference something that's happened to 'you', like a childhood memory or a story. Something that nobody else would have access to or has referenced before because it's yours. Being original is king! Try and work harder than anyone else because like i said earlier, to be good at something takes time, to be great at something takes a lifetime so be patient. Oh yeah… and have FUN! >.Where to find Timba Smits on the web
More work by this artist
We will giveaway 2 copies of the current Wooden Toy Quaterly book
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