Thursday, April 9, 2009

Invincible and Cute: An Interview with Water Bears

When it comes to imagination and a dash of crazy (in a good way of course) this artist has what it takes to crank out awesomeness with each swish of his paintbrush. I discovered Water Bears very early after first discovering Etsy and I always find myself coming back to this shop. Tim, the man behind the puzzling name, is super friendly and was first featured on my blog in the alphabet series I did many moons ago. He also graciously agreed to do an interview for me way back then, and I am just getting around to it now. So sit back, read the interview or don't, but I'm betting once you look at the pretty pictures you'll be just curious enough to need to know a little more and end up reading it anyway! I have to know, what’s the story behind the name of your Etsy shop, Water Bears?

Waterbears are awesome. They are some of the cutest most invincible creatures on earth. I thought it summed up the critters I paint pretty well. Check out this link.

Thanks for clearing that up. I'm not completely lazy, I did look it up myself, but it was too weird to be true. I stand corrected! So, tell us a little bit about Tim Boyd, the man behind Water Bears. Is art a full time gig for you?

My family and I own a landscaping business. It keeps me pretty busy especially in the spring. I'm kind of like Batman except I paint at night rather than fight crime. I have a beautiful wife, a gorgeous little girl and two Border Collies. They get every bit of me that is left over at the end of the day.

Give me three words that describe your shop, the paintings and prints you sell.

Funny, Evolving, Wonky

Haha, wonky. Good one! How did you first get started on the track of becoming a successful painter and how long have you been painting?

I have been painting for almost 4 years now but I have been drawing since I was 4. I always wanted to be a cartoonist. I actually did a comic strip in college for a while and published a few zines that only my wife read. One of my professors in college said one of the most important things to me on the first day in class. He looked at all of us eager students and said " So you all want to be illustrators?"...... "Well guess already are. Now you just have to find someone to pay you to do it." I started showing my work shortly after that.

I’m always intrigued by other artist’s work spaces, describe your studio or workspace and what’s your favorite thing about it?

I try to fill my studio with images that will keep my creativity flowing. I hang up doodles, sketches, calendars, photos, patterns, old paintings, etc. My favorite part, however, is the toys. I have a lot of toys in there. Every wall is covered, in some part, with toys. I am inspired by the color and imagination that goes into them.

Your paintings are very graphic and comical in illustration but also evoke a feeling of gritty street art. Where does your style come from? What are some of the influences of your work and other artists or things that inspire you?

I think the hard, clean edges in my work come from my affinity with the Sunday morning cartoons. I am, after all, a cartoonist at heart. I like to tow a certain line in most of my pieces. I like building characters and then putting them in unexpected situations. I like the strangeness of seeing a cute little bunny rabbit in the middle of the woods with toaster oven. I really love listening to kids try to explain what they see in some of my images. They usually have a better grasp than I do. I could list artists that inspire me all day long so I'll give you the short list: Mark Ryden, Jeff Soto, Scott Musgrove, Sergio Arigones, Bret Blevins, Bill Watterson

What is your creative process like from start to finish on a painting? Where do you come up with ideas like a piggy breakfast fairy?

There is nothing better than painting talking food. I don't know why that entertains me so much. Most of my drawings start off as doodles. I have a ton of sketch pads that I am always working in and referring to. But, I'll draw on anything..styrofoam cups, tables, dashboards, other pens. I try to never stop.

How has Etsy influenced your exposure and success? Where else do you sell your prints and paintings besides Etsy?

My wife pushed me to get on Etsy. She is very crafty and has a great eye for talent. She loved the people on Etsy and was always showing me what these people were doing out of their homes. It really is amazing. Etsy has been great for me. There is no better way to be seen by so many like minded people around the world. Its just a cool community. I sell most of my originals at Donna Van Gogh's in Atlanta and Art festivals and galleries around town all year long. Beep Beep and Young Blood carry my prints along with Helix in Athens.

Who are some of your favorite Etsy artists and why do you like their shops?

RustyRoosterMetal just cool stuff

cyberhadji right up my alley

falldowntree whimsical and grungy

hine seriously, who would have thought to make these. So cool.

laurageorge very creative and unexpected

berkleyillustration just pure talent..and also bizarre.

yellena I don't know why exactly but this stuff is beautiful.

What’s your favorite painting that you have ever made?

I made a painting once of two super hero critters standing on a building looking over a sunset. It felt like the end of a good day or the beginning of a long night depending on whatever your mood was. Anyway, I put a high gloss varnish on it before I scanned it in and was unable to keep a quality image for myself. So there has never been a print produced from it. It is the one that got away.

Thanks Tim for the interview and your seemingly never ending collection of funny, evolving and wonky paintings! I never get bored of looking at them, even the ones I've already looked at for hours on end! How do you do that!? Visit the Water Bears shop and grab your favorite bacon-themed, flying toaster and angrily cute critter prints today!
P.S. It's nice to see someone's studio is just as messy as mine! *wink*