DRAWING MONSTERS, ALIENS, AND DINOSAURS - Interview with Tim Graham

I was born in New York City. My dad was a photographer and my mom worked in publishing and was also a weaver. They had spent their entire lives in the city, so when I was very young, they moved my brother and I to Cape Cod, MA. It was a great place to grow up with all the beautiful, natural spaces it offers (from forest to ocean). I drew a lot as a kid and my parents were always very supportive and encouraging. I studied painting at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. After school, I got into the sign business and learned a lot about graphic design. I moved around a bit after school and eventually came back to the Cape. I've played in a few indie rock and metal bands. I currently do freelance graphic design and draw weird creatures whenever I'm able to.



What do you love most about illustrating?

I've always loved drawing from my imagination. I enjoy starting with a loose sketch and seeing where it takes me. I suppose what I love most about drawing and making art in general, is that it gets me out of my head and lets me explore an imaginary world that is entirely in my control (which is a nice feeling considering the very uncertain world we all live in daily). I also love sharing my work with people. I have a much easier time getting to know people when using artwork (or playing music) as an intermediary.


Can you tell us a little bit about your style? How has it progressed, or changed, over the years?

I started out, like many kids, drawing monsters, dinosaurs and aliens. Most people stop doing that as they get older, but I'm glad that I didn't. However, at some point, I felt some pressure to get "serious". I went to art school for painting and learned some good fundamentals. While I do value what I learned at art school, I think the environment there did a lot to amplify my self-criticism. It took quite some time to recover from hearing the professor's voices in my head when I was trying to create something. Lately, I've tried to return to the fun and free method of working that I enjoyed as a kid - just drawing whatever came to mind. Later, I learned about vector art and Adobe Illustrator which allowed me to have fun with coloring and adding texture in the computer. I generally work with ink on paper and then scan the image into the computer to finish in Illustrator.



What influences/influenced your characters and subject matter? (monsters, aliens, and goo + guts)

I'm probably still influenced by movies, books and comics that I experienced when I was younger. Movies like Alien/Aliens, The Thing, An American Werewolf in London - those have stuck with me for decades. I like HP Lovecraft's very non-human creatures - I like his descriptions of beings that are beyond human comprehension. Alan Moore's Swamp Thing run is a big influence. I love his metaphysical and psychedelic take on man's relationship to nature.


What are some styles or visual trends you appreciate in the world of illustration?

I appreciate the current wave of so-called "lowbrow" art and pop-surrealism. Lowbrow used to tend to be more refined and technical (Robert Williams or Mark Ryden for examples), but I think it's broadened to encompass more thick-lined, cartoonish art in the past decade or so.




Do you have a favorite artist?

I have lots of favorite artists. Some from the world of fine art such as Robert Rauschenberg, Franz Kline and Philip Guston (who broke from the abstract expressionists and began incorporating cartoon-like figures into his paintings). I am inspired by the work of great inkers like Charles Burns, Jack Kirby, Wally Wood and Bernie Wrightson. Comic artist Jim Woodring is a favorite of mine; he forms amazing, dream-like narratives without the use of any words or dialogue.


How do you stay motivated and creative?

I find creating to be somewhat therapeutic. I need to get things out and onto paper - even if they're totally fantastical and not autobiographical at all. At least some of my motivation is an effort to stay busy and not feel like a slug. Instagram has actually been a decent motivating factor - I like how simple it is to get my work out to a bunch of people at once.


If you could collaborate with ANY artist, who would it be? Why?

Any artist, living or dead? It would be cool to do a collaborative painting with Basquiat, like he did with Warhol. I'm pretty controlled when it comes to illustrating and painting. I think that an artist as expressive and dynamic as Basquiat would teach me a lot!




What do you like to do when you’re not illustrating?

I like watching sci-fi and horror movies, documentaries, playing guitar or bass and recording music. Every weekend, my friend James and I hit up the local "free shops" at the dumps in towns nearby. We've found quite a few treasures at these places - everything from cool old records to weird toys to power tools. I also like to collect interesting old books and ephemera that have cool illustrations and interesting type on them.


What are you 2018 goals?

I'd really like to put together a comic book, even if it's just photocopied and passed out to friends. I've done a few in the past, but it's been a while. I'd also like to make more stickers and get back into painting. My girlfriend and I may be moving into a much more spacious house, so I might soon be able to set up an actual studio space (rather than working at a tiny desk)! I'd also like the opportunity to do some band flyers and/or album artwork. I would like to try my hand at animating some of my creature drawings. I'd also love to play in a band again, but it's tough to make the time!


What is your favorite song, artist or band you enjoy listening to while you work?

I usually have a movie, show or documentary on while I work on drawings. For some reason, I like to have something on in the background that I can half-pay attention to. But some of my favorite genres of music are post-punk, Krautrock, jazz, and metal. I've been revisiting The Fall since Mark E Smith died; he was a real genius. The Ramones are a perennial favorite.


SHOP | INSTAGRAM

pik-logo-white.png

© Copyright 2020, PIKCHUR Magazine All Rights Reserved