Tim McDonagh, Hey, Pig
Tim McDonagh is one of the newest TTP artists. His work might be most recognizable because of its almost insane passion for detail (we wrote about it here), but Tim is also known for the quirkiness behind his pieces’ foreground subjects, like the kid and pig above. Last week, Tim was nice enough to chat with us on the old Skype machine for a bit, and we talked about Where’s Waldo, his time in West Virginia, why doing so much detail helps him in his process, and future plans. You can see his TTP store here.
TTP: Hey Tim
Tim McDonagh: Hiya Ben
TTP: I’m a bit rusty on the Skype skills.
Tim: Haha I rarely use it either.
TTP: So how’s it going?
Tim: Not so bad thanks, how’re things in Chicago?
TTP: Not to complain, but we got the taste of spring/summer, and it’s been freezing ever since.
Tim: Haha we’ve had exactly the same thing. It’s been t-shirt and shorts weather the last couple of weeks in Brighton but as of today I think we’re back to the usual English weather I’m afraid.
TTP: How long have you been in Brighton?
Tim: Well I moved here with my girlfriend about a year ago, before then I lived in London. I grew up near Brighton though and I’ve always been really fond of it, it’s like all of the best bits of London just compacted into a smaller city. It’s a great place, lots of creative types and a massive arts scene.
TTP: And probably a bit more affordable than London?
TTP: I mean, EVERYWHERE is more affordable than London.
Tim: Well I would love to say so but there’s not that much of a difference, I suppose if you know the right pubs it can be cheaper in that sense though.
TTP: In your TTP bio and elsewhere you say you spent some time growing up in the States though – where/when was that?
Tim: Yeah I did when I was younger I spent quite a few years in West Virgnia on a self sustaining commune, living off of the land and that kind of thing. In “school” we would learn how to milk goats and grow our own food. It was a pretty amazing experience.
TTP: Somewhat different from the coal mining West Virginia you see in the media.
Tim: Haha yeah, I was really unaware of the sort of image West Virginia has until recently, I mean I always saw it as this beautiful place with lots of amazing wildlife.
Tim: Compared to the wildlife in the UK anyway
TTP: Yeah so do you ever come back stateside?
Tim: I haven’t been back yet, although I have seen a couple of the people I grew up with recently when they’ve come over here. I really hope to go over this year, maybe towards the end of the summer.
TTP: Oh nice!
TTP: So I don’t want to keep you too long but I definitely want to talk about your work.
Tim: Sure, go for it.
TTP: I think the thing that gets me about your stuff is this foreground/background thing. There are these subjects that are sometimes front and center, sometimes not, but there’s always another level – a detailed background, a bottom half…it’s something MORE underneath it all.
TTP: More layers.
TTP: I don’t really have a question to follow this up with. I’m just throwing it out there.
Tim: It’s nice that you picked up on that, yeah things just kind of developed in that direction and I’ve found it a really comfortable way to build an image. I like just adding and adding to an image until I’m happy with it really. Recently though I’ve been trying to cut down sometimes and go slightly more stripped back with my images.
TTP: Right I mean how do you know when to stop? When it’s “done” – whatever that means.
Tim: I think it might be a confidence thing, the need to just fill it up with as much as I can so people will at the very least say, “That must’ve taken ages” but as I’ve worked for more clients and find a bit more confidence I can sometimes find a more appropriate place to stop cramming.
TTP: I wonder if the “subjects” (the sort of front objects that we’re often first drawn to in your works) then will take on more of a focus.
TTP: Like I saw this thing you tweeted (Which is sweet, btw.)
Tim: Haha, thanks.
TTP: Do you think that face/head will end up more of a focus if the background stays less filled in?
Tim: Well it’s funny because at first I started drawing that and it was just going to be her, a bit of her body as just a practice thing, not really intended to show anyone. But as it started to take shape I was pretty happy with it and so started adding more and more to the image, at the moment she’s surrounded with lilies, flying beetles, Venus Fly Traps and ladybirds.
TTP: Haaa dope!
TTP: Maybe you just can’t NOT keep filling in.
Tim: Yeah you know I think you’re right.
TTP: I have a painterly friend who gets really uptight when he sees blank canvas so he often pastes old newspaper or magazine stuff into little blank canvas areas just to cover them up to start (and to provide some texture to go on top of).
Tim: Yeah I think I have a similar thing where it’s like “Well I’ve got some space left over there so what can I squeeze in there.”
Tim: As a kid I was always interested in drawings like that though, full of detail that you can find new things in.
Tim: Where’s Wally (or Waldo) and all that.
TTP: And you’re clearly good at it.
TTP: So what’s on the horizon for you? Does Handsome Frank have anything planned? Or any gallery shows or such post-Pick Me Up?
Tim: Yeah there is quite a lot going on at the moment. I’m working on two book covers. Alongside that I’m working on some illustrations and a couple of album covers so there’s quite a bit on. As for shows, I’m going to be taking part in Secret 7″ show in a couple of weeks which should be awesome. The guys at Handsome Frank have got a really exciting announcement coming up in the next week or two, keep your eyes peeled for that one
TTP: Definitely – and congrats!
Tim: Yeah – I would love to start getting seriously into prints, it’s something I’ve got a real fascination with and it seems as though that’s an area where you get a lot of creative freedom. I’ve always had some kind of comic book-graphic novel-short story-children’s book idea floating around my head too, which I would like to get on to paper.
Tim: I don’t know, there are a million things really.
TTP: Well we’re excited to have you on board with TTP.
Tim: Thanks ever so much for having me, happy to be a part of it!
TTP: Awesome man I really appreciate you taking the time for this.
Tim: No problem at all.
TTP: Right then onwards talk soon.
Tim: Take care man, have a good day.
TTP: You too.