Timothy Goodman: Hands On, Markers Out

Famed designer & ADC Young Guns 7 winner talks about his career and his upcoming ADC Hands On workshop

Renowned New York based designer, illustrator and art director Timothy Goodman has been proving all along that the pen is mightier than the sword — especially when that pen is a Sharpie in his gifted hands. Whether the canvas is a car or a wall, Tim has shown a lot of versatility in this ever so humble medium — so much so that he has recently published a book to teach his techniques and help others refine theirs.

But why settle for just the book to gain from Mr. Goodman’s wisdom? Tim will be leading an exclusive all-day Sharpie workshop on Saturday, July 18, as part of our all-new ADC Hands On series. Tickets go on sale today at noon EST for all current ADC Members (non-members will get their chance tomorrow at noon)

We caught up with Tim this weekend to chat about his artistic past, present and near future, as well as learn why the humble Sharpie is such an important tool in his utility belt.


How did this crazy journey of making a living out of your creativity begin for you? Where did a young Timothy Goodman get his inspiration?

timgoodmanGrowing up in Cleveland, Ohio from a family a modest means, I learned how to be scrappy as a youngster. My heroes were characters like Ferris Bueller and Zack Morris, and I reveled in the idea of pulling a fast one on somebody in authority. That’s kind of how my graphic design career started: in high school, I stole hall passes, replicated them in Microsoft Word, and printed out whole packs of them; later, I forged teacher’s signatures. I’m still that kid in some ways — I’m always looking to get away with something, always trying to break out of something that I felt marginalized by.

You’re a designer, an illustrator, an educator, an author — is “diversify” the name of the game for creative professionals in 2015?

It’s only the name of the game if you want to play that game. Eventually people grow tired, and trends outgrow themselves, so I do think it’s important to keep your hands in different pots if you want to stay stimulated. Whether it’s the hand drawn murals I’ve done, my personal projects with Jessica Walsh (40 Days of Dating and Quotes on Shit), my Instagram writing series “Memories of a Girl I Never Knew”, or creating a laser cut photo-illustration for Esquire, I’ve personally just always been interested in working in an array of different mediums and ideas.

” I’m still that kid in some ways — I’m always looking to get away with something, always trying to break out of something that I felt marginalized by.”

Speaking of Jessica, we last saw the two of you hosting a workshop at the ADC Festival in Miami Beach back in April. What was that experience like?

It was such a pleasure for us to have our Quotes on Shit workshop down there with you guys! We had a lot of fun, and it was a great to meet so many people from all around the world. The parties were fun, too.

What have you been up to since then? What projects are getting you particularly excited these days?

Jessica and I are wrapping up another very robust experiment that uses our personal lives as a catalyst to tell a story. It’s documented in a similar way to 40 Days via writing, illustration, photography and video. We’ll also be releasing it in segments. In fact, we’ve partnered with Bas Berkhout who makes the wonderful Like Knows Like documentary series. Look for it in August!

Some artists work in oils, others work in clay. And then there’s you, armed with a Sharpie. What makes this such an awesome medium for you? Do you attach some sort of philosophy to the humble marker?

What’s so surprising to me, when I really think about it, is how much Sharpie is a part of all our lives. Sharpie is kind of the ‘everyman’ marker: kids use them to draw pictures, athletes use them to sign autographs, artists use them in their work, some people might use them to touch up a scratch on their piano, my mom uses them to write a grocery list, etc. I literally heard Big Sean reference Sharpie in one of his songs recently.

Your ADC Hands On workshop takes place on July 18. What will attendees get out of it? What will youget out of it?

While this class will explore effects, techniques, mediums and ideas about how to use Sharpie in your life with a series of short exercises, it will also demonstrate finding your own voice and sensibilities in your work. From making handmade gifts, to creating murals, to repurposing old objects, to writing and authoring projects, we can bring a tremendous amount of creativity and joy to ourselves and those in our life. While Sharpie is the hands-on tool, I’m more interested in seeing how we can use the tools of our life to connect to other people with our work.