size?series – Tim Head

Next up in our size? series is Tim Head, a London based illustrator and creative. Tim’s work is well known on the London creative scene, collaborating on campaigns for Carhartt WIP, as well as other work for NTS Radio, the Ace Hotel and Law magazine. Initially studying Fine Art at university, Tim moved into freelance illustration after growing frustrated with the restrictive nature of his course and tutor. Alongside side his illustrations and designs, Head has also created film and video content for musician Olsen and ApprovedByPablo.

Tim incorporates vibrant colour in his designs – utilising a collage style, full of character. Describing himself as ‘an analogue guy in a digital world’, Tim creates distorted visuals by hand, before manipulating the images through an old photocopier. In 2013 Tim collaborated with Small Time publishing to create ‘Maximum Respect’, a book described as a ‘nostalgic love letter to the London rave scene’ documenting the years 89-2001. The book contains 32 pages of Tim’s collages, created over several late-night jams. As well as working with the biggest names in fashion and music, Tim Head has had his work exhibited at the prestigious Somerset House and the Saatchi gallery. Tim’s notable list of clients include Converse, Champion, AFour clothing, Braindead clothing, Patron tequila, Heavenly Records and the Big Issue.

For his interpretation of our icon, Tim Head has created a lo-fi black and white piece, in-keeping with his signature style, that sees our question mark at the centre of the illustration. Creating a piece of art that is open to interpretation, Tim’s perception of our question mark is that it is forever evolving, without being truly defined – which is how Tim also see’s the size? stores – Always evolving, but consistent in our offerings.

We caught up with Tim to get an insight into his day-to-day and also to out a little bit more about the artwork he’s presented for our size? Series.

Hi Tim. You have a unique style of working that takes on many forms, how did find you find yourself developing these different forms of illustration?

I think it boils down to me being a) a massive nerd that gets easily excited about new ideas, b) I get bored really quickly and c) I always follow my instincts. If I have an idea or an image in my head, I just have to follow it immediately.
Style develops over time – by practising more, by learning what I like to make or learning what my style really is.  I never consciously develop things, I guess they just grow as I hope to do as a person. I just follow my ideas and mood and go wherever it takes me.

In the past you’ve created work for brands such as Carhartt WIP, A.Four and Converse. Have you always had an interest in fashion and popular culture, and do you find it’s informed your work at all?

100%. Whilst I’m not a Hypebeast (any more), I am still a massive streetwear and fashion nerd and have been since a teenager. If you truly believe in and love something, it will always be a part of you and inform everything you do.
In terms of ‘how’ it informs my work, the main thing is the ‘the pop effect’ –  to me, the graphics I loved or the streetwear graphics that left an impact were two things – they were cool as they were immediate. If you saw someone walk past in the new Stüssy graphic, you knew in a split second if you liked it or not. Obviously, there are complexities and sophistication in t-shirt graphics and streetwear, but that immediacy, that instant hit of cool has always appealed to me. I guess it’s a mentality that I try to inject into my work. I want people to see my work in a glance and have an immediate reaction (good or bad). No slow burn. It’s how I create my work and how I want my work to be seen.

You’ve documented the London rave scene from ’89 – 2001, through a collection of collages in your ‘Maximum Respect’ book. What inspired you to do this and was it always your plan to document it in book form?

size?, I love you, but it wasn’t my aim to document the scene. To me when you’re documenting something, you’re trying to create a truthful, definitive account of something, with a tone of authority and knowledge…my project was the opposite. It was purely my own personal nostalgia. It was me reminiscing and remembering being a teenager and falling in love with an illicit, exciting subculture and trying express that through collage.
The project started when my mate Rob – from SmallTime in Australia – hit me up wanted to do a publication. Around this time, I had started to make rave inspired collages. I was usually alone in my studio, listening to old jungle radio shows and just creating these collages. When Rob and I got to talking, we discovered we shared a love of raves and all that good shit from our teenage years. It became a no brainer for me to make some more collages and do a publication.
I wanted to reflect the rave in the making of the work, to mirror that idea of going out one night and letting go – making something memorable happen. All the collages in the book were the result of me staying up late one night, banging out to pure anthems and making the 20-30 A3 collages that were included. The next morning, I woke up late, looked back and they were 90% done – so it was a quick, natural, fun way of working. It was never my plan to do a publication, or explore my childhood love of jungle raves. It just kinda happened – like how sometimes all the best things in life come to pass… it just happens.

You’ve worked with Heavenly Records, NTS Radio and Cold Tonic Records to name a few. Do you find music helps inform your creativity at all? Any specific genre’s or artists you prefer to use as a backing track when you’re working?

Yes, yes, yes and yes! As Jay-Z said in ‘Fade to Black’…” Don’t ever stop the music”. I don’t. Music informs, inspires and influences everything I do. I love it for that. I fiend for new music every single day. I listen to everything I can. When working, I can’t work with some real hectic techno for too long. If it’s late at night it’s usually mixes – NTS, Beats in Space, Rinse FM, old Stretch & Bobbito – Jazz, or catching up with all the new music I’ve recently got into.  The list of who I listen to is long and there’s too many to give a shout out to. I love that. Music’s the best, and I know there’s always new awesome stuff to discover.

Have you worked much in collaboration with other artists in creating work? Do you find this working style then helps with idea generation when you go back to your individual practice?

As much as I can! I’m lucky enough to call a few great artists friends and I love working with them – even if it’s informally. I think it’s important to do your thing, but then I do love making work with other artists as it often forces you to see things differently. Make things outside of your comfort zone. I love to be challenged constantly, evolve and try new things. Shit gets boring too quick, so working with other people is always fun, as you make pieces or styles that you never would have reached if left to yourself.
In terms of informing my own practise, I guess it just teaches you how to look at stuff in different ways. Teaching yourself to see your work and its character for what it is.

Are there any projects you’re currently working on that you’d like to share?

I’m lucky enough to be working on a few cool things, but the only thing I can really share is that early next year I’ll be dropping a new publication in Berlin with a nice exhibition to launch it. Keep your eyes peeled, should be big. Always up for more exhibitions so hit me up if you have a space.

Could talk us through the creative process in producing the illustration you’ve presented for our size? series. What inspired the final piece?

I know that ‘size?’ is a question, and to me the ‘?’ is forever a nod to lo-fi culture. Whether it’s old garage band’s question marks, the 60s Riddler outfit or 80s LA punk bands – ‘?’ was always a lo-fi symbol. God knows why? So, I think I wanted to do something slightly ambiguous, that the audience would literally question what it is, but still in-keeping with lo-fi, slightly new wave-ish aesthetic.
For me size? stores are one of the best because they’re not defined by one look or style, they’re constantly evolving. So, while the original name I guess comes from a comment (‘size?’), to me it fits perfectly as the stores are constantly evolving and can’t be truly defined. No-one knows what the store truly is – except somewhere to get decent kicks.

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