With his popping-colours, abstract shapes and structural lines – we just love Tim Fowler’s paintings. Created in acrylic, enamel, gloss, spray paint, ink, graffiti, paints, oil sticks and marker pens (phew!), his work features architectural buildings, pop-icons and most recently, his family. With Father’s Day just around the corner, we got to know more about Tim’s practice and why he thinks it’s important to surround his three year-old twin daughters with creativity.
MEET PAINTER TIM FOWLER
What does a typical day in the studio look like?
My typical day in the studio starts with the dreaded school run. Then it’s off to the studio for about 9.30. I always like to come in, make a coffee and paint for the first 3 hours as this is when I feel the most focused. I’m based at StudionAme in Leicester along side around 30 others artists. Around midday i’ll take a walk around the studios to see who else is around. We chat, critique each others work, share upcoming shows and opportunities and generally socialise like you would in any ‘normal’ job. Over lunch I’ll tend to get through some of my admin, emails, ordering materials etc. Then it’s either back to painting or stretching and prepping new canvas. I work on numerous pieces at a time, usually around 6-8. So I jump between prepping, drawing things out, base coats and finishing paintings. I normally leave the studio around 5pm. Throughout the day I’ll take pictures and short videos on my phone for social media but I don’t tend to post things until the end of the day as it can be too distracting.
We love your use of vibrant colours, can you tell us a bit about why your find colour so inspiring?
My use of colour is definitely what people notice and are drawn to first so I often get asked about it. There is no set answer or influence I have. I just have always been drawn to vibrant colours since a young child. Whether it being clothes, toys, cartoons or even advertising on cereal boxes etc. Growing up in the early 90s I’d often be rocking bright oversized t-shirts from C&A. Whether this is an influence or not I don’t know but it’s stuck with me ever since and is my biggest interest in my practice.
With subjects ranging from architecture to portraiture – how many of your pieces are inspired by your personal life vs. commentary on the world around you?
The first 5 years after graduating I only painted architectural subjects, which was commentary on the world around me. I went to art school in Sheffield and like Leicester has a strong industrial history, Sheffield being steel and Leicester being textiles. Therefore there was an abundance of derelict factories and buildings which were inspiration for my paintings. I Liked the idea that these places were generally seen as an eyesore and using them as a basis for paintings gave them a really interesting contrast. When I moved into portraiture the work became less about commentary on the world and more about exploring the actual physical act of painting, the balance of colours and the aesthetics of the piece. The first portraits I worked on were based on silver screen actors/actresses. I was drawn to these because they were seen in black and white so to recreate them in my style and colour palette really interested me. I have recently developed this further into figurative painting and now focusing more on composition, narrative and concept as well as colour. This series is very much inspired by my personal life as me, my wife and children are the subject matter.
As a father, how important do you think it is to have creativity in your home?
Creativity is very important in my home for many reasons. My daughters are three and they are learning and developing their motor skills. Whether it’s holding a paintbrush or using a pair of scissors it’s going to be beneficial to their brain development even if they don’t end up in a creative industry. It’s a great age to get them started because they are open to trying anything. There are no insecurities regarding the outcome of anything they make, they just do it. Artists have been trying to recapture that childlike freedom for years. There are also benefits which are less obvious like teaching them to be patient, decision making skills and confidence.
How will you encourage your kids to be creative?
I often bring the girls to my studio as obviously it’s a messy space and I have lots of materials for them to experiment with. At this stage I like to keep it as free as possible when creating, rather than trying to teach them too many ‘art rules’. Recently I sat them down with three blobs of primary coloured paint and let them play around with mixing. In the future I will support their creativity whatever path they go down. Even if they were studying to become an accountant I’d still love for them to want to come into the studio with me in their spare time and paint for fun. I am primarily a painter but I’d encourage them to try other creative outlets too like dance, music and writing etc.
What is your latest series about?
I’m currently working on a series of large scale figurative oil paintings based around my family. This is part of an Arts Council funded project which will end with a solo exhibition at StudionAme gallery space in Leicester. The exhibition is titled “ALPHA male – A collection of new works exploring the image of a mans role within the contemporary household” [Ed. the exhibition took place in 2019].
What advice would you give to any aspiring artists reading this interview?
Be patient and be prepared to play the long game. No matter how good you are it’s not often you get picked up by a big gallery straight away. You need to build and develop your practice. Unless you have stacks of money at the start you will need a side job to support yourself. If you can’t get something in the arts then look for something that isn’t going to take up all your time and energy so you can still focus on your practice. I spent the first 5 years after graduating working as a teaching assistant in a behavioural school. This meant I finished at 3pm, had school holidays off and didn’t have to take any work home with me.
Don’t waste your time cold calling hundreds of galleries. Do some research on what kind of artists they show and if your work would fit. Then attend their shows and try to build up a relationship. Speak to the other artists that they represent and the gallery staff if you can. Do as much independently as you can. Galleries are important and obviously play a huge role in an artists career but that doesn’t mean you can’t do you things yourself in the meantime.
Networking is very important but a lot of people are put off it because it seems really formal but it doesn’t have to be. In my experience networking is just chatting and going to shows. Support other artists, whether it’s online or going to their events. The majority of artists I speak to are now just friends. We all help each other out by sharing opportunities, feedback on galleries and critiquing each others work.
Social media has become a strong tool that every artist, especially emerging show focus some time on. A lot of people/galleries will check out your Instagram before they look at your website. Post regularly, whether it’s a finished piece, work in progress, behind the scenes, info regarding upcoming events or your inspirations.
We love that Tim brings creativity into his home to inspire his (adorable!) twins. Plus his collaborative approach to developing his career and those of the artists he works alongside, just underlines what a nice chap he is. If, like us, you’ve fallen in love with his modern, abstract and colourful style – browse more of Tim’s work by following the link below.
Painter, Tim Fowler, at work in StudionAme.
Featured art from first to last:
Tim Fowler, Dorothy, 2017, mixed-media, original, £2,500, StudionAme.
Tim Fowler, Chelsea Flour Mill, 2014, mixed-media, original, £1,750, StudionAme.
Tim Fowler inspires his twin-daughters creativity by bringing them into StudionAme.
Tim Fowler, MLK, 2018, mixed-media, original, £1,750, StudionAme.