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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

Timothy Goodman: Artist as Storyteller

Artist Timothy Goodman talked to us about drawing by hand, dancing with fear, and disobeying one's parents.

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timothy goodman frog sketchCourtesy Timothy Goodman

A complex illustration can start with a simple image….

“I frequently tell my students [at the School of Visual Arts] that they need to get better at getting their ideas out of their heads and start making things without the worry of success,” said Goodman. “That’s the threshold between letting the fear control you, and taking a step with the fear for a dance.”

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crop of the timothy goodman illustration for a page in readers digestTimothy Goodman for Reader's Digest

…which, when cleaned up and shrunk down digitally, becomes a key part of an exciting design.

“My old boss and mentor, Brian Collins, says that his only style is to tell a powerful story. I couldn’t agree more,” said Goodman. “Even though I’ve adopted a drawing style, if you look at my body of work you’ll see that I generally work in many mediums across branding, identity, and editorial. I have no interest in making work for solely aesthetic reasons. If we ask questions, and think like storytellers, then we can have a larger dialogue with our clients and ourselves.”

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The title image of The Reads section, Reader's Digest, June 2012Timothy Goodman for Reader's Digest

Finally: The title image of The Reads section, Reader’s Digest, June 2012

“So often I’m asked to solve problems and present several concepts for a project. Nothing gives me a breather more than a project like this one,” said Goodman. “The project brief went something like this: Here is a list of words and images—now draw them. No, really, that’s it. God bless Reader’s Digest!”

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Detail from New York cover, November 2010Courtesy Timothy Goodman

Detail from New York cover, November 2010

“I will use anything that I can get my hands on to make the idea as immediate as possible: marker, spray paint, my own photography, cheesy stock photography, computer vector images, and many times, a mixture of these things together,” said Goodman.

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TIME cover, June 2011Courtesy Timothy Goodman

TIME cover, June 2011

“Everything’s an opportunity,” said Goodman. “Working in design firms, with teams and collaborating, there’s been times I struggled that have helped me grow as a person and a designer.”

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Timothy Goodman Working on a mural for Manhattan's Ace HotelCourtesy Timothy Goodman

Working on a mural for Manhattan’s Ace Hotel

“When I was a kid I was proud to have bruises and scars on my body after playing outside. Having bruises and scars meant I was having fun!” said Goodman. “We were always told to never draw on the walls, but isn’t it more exciting when we disobey our parents?”

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The completed Ace Hotel muralCourtesy Timothy Goodman

The completed Ace Hotel mural

“My friend William Morrisey always says, ‘If you want to change your look, change your tool.’ About two years ago I made a conscience effort to get my hand involved in my work more,” said Goodman. “I had the perfect opportunity to make that effort sing when I was asked to do this mural. That project opened up an entirely different creative avenue for myself. A healthy amount of work I’m currently doing is hand-drawn, and it all stems from that project.”

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Windmills used for Metropolis magazine cover, May 2009Courtesy Timothy Goodman

Windmills used for Metropolis magazine cover, May 2009. Designed with a team at COLLINS:

“I used to paint homes, hang wallpaper and drywall for four and a half years, and I do think that has helped me bring a certain physicality to my work—whether it’s a project like this, working on environmental stuff, or doing murals,” said Goodman.

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exterior view of the CNN GrillCourtesy Timothy Goodman

The CNN Grill. Designed with a team at COLLINS:

“I really appreciate where I’m at right now, and what I’m doing. I love being a designer. It was a good step for me,” said Goodman.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest