Tim Doyle is an illustrator and entrepreneur located in Austin, Texas. He is a self-confessed film, comic book, and video game geek, whose go-getter attitude has transformed his passion for drawing and pop into a living.
As an entrepreneur, Doyle hasn’t only pursued one avenue of art. He began showing his work in galleries in 2001, self-published the zine “Amazing Adult Fantasy” from 2001-2003, and, somewhere in the mix, ran a chain of comic book stores, designed t-shirts, and produced artwork for companies such as IDW, Hasbro, and Lucas Film / ILM, to name a few. Since 2009, he has taken his passion to a new level by launching his own print company, Nakatomi Inc.
This month, those of us located in San Francisco have a lot to look forward to from Mr. Doyle, with his solo show opening at Spoke Art on February 2nd. It is in great anticipation of his show that Warholian set out to interview this talented personality.
What sparked your interest in art, and especially this style of work?
Well, it’s the standard story, ever since I was a kid I’ve liked drawing. My mother used to sit us down at the kitchen table and draw with us, and that kind of positive environment spurred me along. My father had some old comics laying around, most notably this old Muppet Show book that had comic book versions of old episodes of the show in there, and from that point on, my path was pretty much set. Or, at least, it seems that way in retrospect, but that’s probably me slapping a narrative on what would otherwise be a random collection of events. But, as far as screen printing art prints goes, that’s been a more recent development.
Who are your greatest influences? Are there any artists, movies, comics you can credit for being most influential?
I am definitely influenced by the comic book artists that I loved as a kid and still do. Geoff Darrow is probably my number one comic artist. Other than that, you’ve got guys like Paul Pope, Chris Ware, Mazzucchelli. Not that I draw like those guys, but they’re definitely influencing me. My favorite film is Blade Runner, so combine that with Darrow, and you can see I’m a fan of a visually dense, urban environment. That’s probably a reaction to me growing up in suburban Texas, which is anything but dense..
Are there any reoccurring themes in your art? Or any underlying commentary, or symbolism, that viewers should be aware of when viewing your work?
Nah, it’s pretty much all there on the page. I think the viewers should just mainly be aware of the fact that I barely know what I’m doing at any given time.
You’re a full time, freelance artist and entrepreneur, which is a place most artists would love to be. How did you get started, and what advice would you give artists who are trying to become more business-savvy, and serious about making art their living?
My biggest advice would be to not go to art school. Unless you want to teach art, but if you want to DO art, art school is a killer. Debt is your enemy. If you go into debt with a student loan, and have to start paying it off when you finally leave art school, you’ll be on that work treadmill immediately, and you won’t have the time to create anymore. I’ve seen it happen time and time again to artists better than I. Don’t wait for the gigs to come to you; get out there and make art and push it out to the social media mess out there. The artist’s statement is the least important thing you will ever do in your art career. Know your market. Screen printing (or “serigraphy”, if you want to sound super-special) is a great field to be in, because you can make unique art at a price anyone can afford. Selling big, time-consuming paintings is nice and all, but I don’t know anyone who has $5K to throw down on a canvas that I have anything in common with. And I want to make art for people like me, so that’s what I do.
I read that you create your work in Photoshop first, and then burn a screen from the file. What is the process like for creating a work ready for printing? Are there any special considerations or limitations to printing that you have to keep in mind?
That’s not entirely true, I hand-draw just about everything I do in black and white first, and then I scan it in and do the color separations in Photoshop. It’s not too tricky, once you understand the process. You’re really just laying down one color at a time, so what you want to do is stack the layers in your file in the same order you want to print it. The difficulty comes in how you want the colors to overlay and interact with each other. You definitely have to work in a more graphic method than painting, working in prints, but it fits my comic-book sensibility.
What is usually the run size of your print editions? Do they vary?
The edition sizes vary wildly. For an art print for a gallery show, It’s usually around 100-175, but if it’s a gig I got to design a movie poster, the client might want up to 500 at times.
Your upcoming solo show is with Spoke Art in San Francisco, where you’ve participated in several shows, including Quentin vs. Coen, and Bad Dads. Without giving away too much, is there anything with this new body of work that you’re excited about? Were there any artistic breakthroughs?
Spoke Art is really great; I’ve been in several gallery shows, and I don’t know anyone who hustles harder for their artists. I think this new body of work I’ve got debuting will be a surprise to people, as it’s a bit of a shift in style.. a little more illustrative, and calmer than my past pieces. The subject matter isn’t really much of a departure, so much as how I’m presenting it and the angle I’ve chosen. It’s kinda hard to talk about this without giving anything away, so I’ll have to stop this answer here!
There’s at least one new piece at Spoke we can mention, and I’m curious about the process.. “The Big Salad”, featured in the show’s press release, is being offered in an 18×24 Edition of 100, and it will also be offered in a glow in the dark edition of 35. Have you offered works in the past as glow-in-the-dark editions, and how does the process of creating a glow-in-the-dark piece differ from a regular print?
I’ve definitely done plenty of Glow in the Dark variants in the past; some better looking than others… The only trick to it is you pretty much have to print the glow layer down first, and print the other inks on top, and, you have to make sure the inks going on top aren’t going to be too opaque to allow the glow to shine through. The only real ‘affordable’ glow ink glows green/white, so if you want to tint the light one way or another, you have to print a transparent layer over top. Even the regular stuff is kinda expensive; one day one of my guys who works in my print shop accidentally dumped the bucket of glow on the floor. On one hand, that was an expensive mistake, on the other, the shop looks like a Martian crime scene when you switch the lights off.
The Fine Art industry has always had an interest in pop culture, but pop art usually comes in the form of satire, or political commentary. Lately, we’ve seen an increasing interest in film and poster art in the fine art market, and pop culture references that feel less heavy, and more fun. The work is seen as not just smart, but also appealing. What do you think started this shift in “pop”? Or can it be attributed to any one thing?
I think the explosion of artistic talent that the internet has brought to our doorstep is a part of it, while, before, you had to rely on galleries to tell you what is ‘important’ or worth looking at. Now, you have the public tweeting and tumblr-ing images as they pop up; anyone with something neat to say visually can guarantee to find an audience one way or another. The smart galleries are responding to that and booking shows to showcase that movement. Also, I was in charge of Mondo for four years, and the work I did there with the oversight of artist Rob Jones really took that pop-art poster scene from a dog eared stack of prints no-one knew what to do with, to a commercial juggernaut. And obviously with any success you’ll find people who want to emulate it, and it built up from there. The more the merrier, I say. It’s been really fun watching this particular scene flourish, and, to those who’ve come along inspired by what we did while I was there, you are welcome.
Do you feel there is a difference between fine art and illustration, in both style, and in business practices? Do you think the business of art (including galleries) is finally at a point where it no longer matters how an artist is classified, or what style they choose to work in?
I think the line is way too blurry between what is fine art and illustration now. I mean, look at Dave McKean for instance, where do you put that guy? He illustrates comic books and children’s books, but the images are stronger than just about anything I’ve seen hanging in a gallery, except for when he does gallery shows! The business of ‘fine’ art is a mystery to me, what with grants and benefactors and endowments. It’s all murky and labyrinthine to me. All I know is I make something and people buy it, and I didn’t have to rely on anyone else subsidizing me. I’ve never been a fan of classification when it comes to an artist- that’s for the textbooks. And as far as galleries go, it’s their business to sell art, so if they’re smart, they display art that sells, and anything else is just window dressing, in my opinion. Now, I’ve been known to change my opinion though, so don’t hold me to it.
Thanks, Tim! Where can viewers find your work online? When can we see your work in person at Spoke Art?
– Written by Megan Wolfe for Warholian
For more on the show visit Spoke Art at: http://spoke-art.com/