In conversation with designer & illustrator Timothy Goodman
Timothy Goodman is a designer, illustrator, and author running his own studio in New York City. His clients include Airbnb, Google, Adobe, Ford, J.Crew, MoMA, Samsung, Target, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. He has received awards from most major design and illustration publications. Timothy co-created the blog and book 40 Days of Dating with Jessica Walsh, that has received over 15 million unique visitors and whose film rights were optioned to Warner Bros. Their second social experiment, 12 Kinds of Kindness, was featured in The New York Times & NPR. His writing series “Memories of a Girl I Never Knew” has exhibited at the concept store Colette in Paris, France. His second book, Sharpie Art Workshop, came out last year. He teaches at SVA in NYC.
He also speaks around the world at creative conferences, including SXSW and TEDx and will be speaking this August at MAKE IT in Sydney on 2-3 August. In this Q&A, Timothy talks to us about his creative journey, what inspires him, and what we can look forward to at MAKE IT in Sydney…
Tell us a little bit about your journey into the world of design?
I’ve always tried to search and find people who could be my mentors. Sometimes making the “right” decision is nothing more than knowing who to trust. I’ve been lucky to have a great group of mentors throughout my journey, both professionally and in life. I always tell my students, when starting out, it’s not where you want to work, but who you want to work for and learn from. I graduated SVA in NYC in 2007 and started as a book jacket designer at Simon & Schuster for a year. From there, I went on to work for Brian Collins’ agency, Collins, for 2 years. Then, I worked in-house at Apple in California for one year. I did my first mural at the Ace Hotel during this time, and I began running home every night to work on freelance. I knew I was on to something—the work and the connections I was making, along with the fact that the corporate life wasn’t for me—so I left Apple to move back to NYC in 2012 to start by own business with the goal of doing the things I really wanted to do.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Watching movies, documentaries, fine art, politics, reading biographies, listening to music, Bob Dylan, Kanye, music producers, writing, falling in love, getting your heart broken, traveling, making mistakes.
Which project has been close to your heart?
What do you feel has been the hardest project till date?
Our 12 Kinds of Kindness project. It took almost one and a half years from conception to launch. While it’s one of my favorite projects I’ve done, because I grew so much personally from it, it was also very emotionally taxing because we confronted so many personal issues. I met my biological father for the first time during this project.
What role has technology played in your creative process?
Everything. 40 Days, 12 Kinds, and all my Instagram writing is done for and via the internet. Secondly, I’m hired by brands now to do work for the internet or Instagram. And thirdly, since I work for myself, the ability to speak to an audience via technology is very important.
Give us an insight into what the day is like for you and the workflow that you follow?
Because I’ve been traveling so much for work the past two years, I don’t have a normal day, per se. If I am in NYC, I wake up early and go to my studio. Sometimes I might be in meetings all day and I leave early to have dinner. Sometimes I might have a client deadline and I work until midnight. Sometimes I’m doing an installation on-site in another city over the weekend. Sometimes I’m traveling giving workshops or lectures. It just depends.
What advice would you like to leave with all the young aspiring artists out there?
Can you give us a sneak peek into what we can expect at MAKE IT?
I believe the greatest joy you can have as a designer is connecting to another human being through your work. I also believe that sharing your personal stories is a sort of activism. I’ll be discussing where I’ve been, who I am, how I get who I am in my work, and how I’m trying to redefine what it means to work under the umbrella of “graphic design.”
Catch Timothy Goodman at MAKE IT on 3 August. Register now!