To kick off QA Spotlight, Blacktooth has reached out to professional fantasy illustrator Tim Lord. A native of England, Tim is clearly in the prime of his career as an artist. He is working hard to establish his credentials and building a solid network of clients. When I first connected with Tim on Linkedin, I was immediately captivated by his mystical blend of fantasy, folklore and engineering. Although Tim has worked for various companies as a full-time employee, I would venture to say that he is most comfortable calling his own shots as a freelance artist. Without further ado, let's get to know Tim directly. Simply click the button below to read the interview...
Tim, tell us a little about yourself – your background, your influences, your goals.
I was born in 1985. I started drawing cartoons from a young age and was encouraged by my family, but stopped after primary school. In secondary school, I half-assed my art skills whilst messing around with my mates before starting work as an engineer. I tried a multitude of different career paths and didn't start drawing again until my late 20s, at which time I was working in waste management as a loader. From a young age I was influenced by comics such as Judge Dredd, Calvin & Hobbes and Wolverine. I was also inspired by fantasy films, game art, and Asian film and culture. My goals are to inspire people and help build awareness of certain subjects, and therefore hopefully help to bring about change.
How long have you been working as an artist/illustrator? Are you a full-time artist or is this more of a hobby?
Before I was self-employed, I was a hobbyist for a few years, basically drawing for friends and practicing. I've been working as a professional freelance artist for the last three years. For the first two of those years I did many different jobs to support myself, but I've been working full time strictly as an artist for the past year.
At what age did you realize this was what you wanted to do?
I realized at around 28 that I wanted to do this. After working for countless horrible bosses at countless monotonous jobs, I knew at some point there was no other way. It was time to take a new path.
There seems to be a tight mixture of nature, fantasy and folklore – all of which blend together to create a stunning visual. Are these the driving forces behind your work?
Yes, they are.
Out of your vast catalog of illustrations, what are your three favorites and why are they special to you?
Mortality… the longest time spent. It was drawn in a bad place.
The Dream… a recurring dream of mine that I had as a child.
Thanato… I feel this character is the sum of bad parts in me.
What was your thought process while creating illustrations like this? Are there any secrets or subliminal messages?
These pieces were drawn in and about dark times. Death. Desolation.
I see a lot of Ian Miller and Jim Fitzpatrick in your work, are you familiar with these artists or influenced by their work?
No, I had not heard of them until now, but I like their work.
Who are a few notable artists that inspire you and what does their work mean to you?
H.R. Geiger, Alphonse Mucha, Dahli… I like beautiful, dark, and weird.
What methods or supplies do you use to create the final look and feel in each of your illustrations? Do you constantly experiment with new techniques or subject matter?
I use many different methods, but I usually work in pen and pencil, then finish them with PhotoShop software. I use Derwent Graphite Pencils, Faber Castell Watercolor Pencils and Fineliner Pens. I also use Windsor and Newton Paper, but I'm starting to experiment again as I haven't for a while now.
How long does a singular piece of art take to complete and when do you determine that the art is finished? Do you enhance your works with a computer?
The amount of time depends on size. Some take days, some weeks. The larger ones take around a month plus. I photograph my work, then only enhance it slightly by filling the background and some of the highlight areas with white on the computer. I do minimal changes so that the end product looks as close to my original piece as possible.
What are your long-term goals as an artist? Where do you see yourself in 10-15 years?
I'm an ex-raver, so I'm happy to say I've reached my first goal of working on techno album art. It's the simple things. I'm not looking for fame. I just want to live comfortably and use any status I may acquire to do good things. Ideally I'd like to work on an advertising campaign with Coke and Parley, or something that'll really help make a difference.
What brings you the most satisfaction as an artist?
Getting those big contracts… I've worked on a few high profile advertising jobs with massive world renowned clients. Those are the ones that make me feel that I'm making proper progress. Also, the lovely comments I've received from fans make all the struggle worthwhile. It's lovely to know I'm inspiring people, that's the most precious thing to me.
Some artists find it difficult to gain exposure. Others fight with their own techniques. What is the most difficult aspect about your craft as an illustrator?
I suppose I find it hard to enjoy sometimes now that I'm creating art full time for money. I'm a simple guy and money doesn't mean much to me, but everyone has to pay bills. I hate the fact that I'm doing it for money – I'm not at all – but it certainly feels like it sometimes. I know if I had no bills that I'd do it regardless. As for worrying about technique, I try doing art without worrying about that. If you compare yourself all the time, you'll get nowhere. As long as it comes from inside without emulating, your art will be unique.
What seems to be the best method you have discovered to promote your work?
I'm not sure. Facebook used to be great, but now it's not so great. I use Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, Behance, Twitter, Tumblr and whatever else is available. I don't check my analytics or anything, and I barely pay to promote anymore, as it's so hit and miss with artwork.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists looking to make an impact?
Keep going, don't ever give up. What's that old quote? The key to being a great artist is to give up on the idea of being a great artist. Do it for the love of it. Eat, sleep and breathe it. Enjoy it!