Tim Lane is an artist based in Bristol, whose work is intricately detailed and explores the darker side of the human condition, using a combination of histories of his own creation and existing literary references. Working mainly in pen, ink and paint his work is both fantastical and unsettling, and showcases fine art at its best.
I caught up with Tim at a local artists hangout and each armed with a pint we discussed everything from classic literature, to the music of Tom Waits, and our mutual hatred of art trends. Here are the highlights of our interview for Culturefly.
What inspires your work?
“I did illustration at university so I’ve always been more on the ‘fine art’ side of things. The narratives within my work are usually inspired from really weird things with good & intersecting subtext and characters.
I like to read something and get a feeling and an idea from it, while reading I’ll think: “that’s the character that I want to draw or that’s the moment I want to capture” and I’ll try and get the subtext in there as well as the literal character.
Growing up I loved all the Grimm fairy tales and myths, classical myths, and allegories of renaissance paintings, which is all very representational work. I always want to look at something for a bit and then create my own version of it.
Narratives influence me, if I don’t have these things to pin work on then I kind of lose it. I could just draw anything, drawing pointless amalgamations of things that look nice but don’t mean anything, but I like to have something to hang it all on.
For example: I did a drawing based on Lord of the Flies and that was depicting their imagined idea of a scary pig. It’s this big horrible looking pig that’s not real it’s all based in the characters imagination and their paranoia that there’s this thing hiding in the woods and their want to kill it. It’s a very visceral thing; they’re trying to kill their fears.
It’s called ‘Decent into Savagery’ because it starts at the top of a hill and they become more and more savage on the way down. They’re all wearing school uniforms and there’s one of them still in his buttoned up school shirt and he’s tentatively holding onto a spear, as your eye goes down there’s another guy on the back of the pig being completely wild. It shows the complete decent from clean society at the top, going down to the base animal instinct. That picture is a great example of using a story and finding a little bit that you like and playing with it using the subtext.”
Photoshop and computerised artwork are becoming ever more popular, what are your thoughts on this sort of artwork?
“I don’t use Photoshop at all. I really hate that kind of look too, because you can tell it’s been done digitally. My whole ethos on drawing is it’s like a signature from you once you digitally render it you lose that.
Also when people draw over photos it’s so obvious because the work shows it, that’s not how people naturally think, the way the shadows are and things like that give it away. I think there needs to be imperfections in drawing, I know there are lots of programmes that you can draw straight onto but I personally, don’t want to use them.
The visceral experience of drawing and using your imagination is lost through the computer. It also takes away spontaneity. I think it’s great when you go into a drawing thinking it’s going to go one way and then you make a mistake and you look at it and think actually I can make this work, it just makes the process more organic. Sometimes going with a mistake can make an artwork so much more interesting. If you don’t give yourself the choice of erasing or starting again cool things happen.”
Your work is quite dark are you ever tempted to do more commercial work?
“Commercial work is a great idea, I mean it gets your name out there and people end up with something you’ve created in their home, with your name on it etc. It’s good to have merchandise. I think my work would look good on t-shirts but I would have to create designs with that in mind not just use an existing image.
I’ve recently done some work for an American author who saw my work and wanted to use it as a front cover for a horror novel and it did make me think I might go back to illustration again. Him using one of my images was great but I’m not a big fan of the sort of illustration where you’re not really doing what you want to do. Basically I want creative control and don’t want it to be compromised by text layouts or anything, as it can really screw up a good composition.
In Bristol I’m involved with Antlers; I love the people involved and being represented by them. They are all great at their craft and are technically capable. That’s what I love about Antlers; they only represent the cream of the crop.”