Interview with a Designer: Tim Boelaars
For the very first post in the series of an ‘Interview with a Designer’, we have none other than Tim Boelaars. A very talented and up-and-coming Dutch illustrator, who has amazed me with his work and personal style ever since the first time i saw his shots on his Dribbble page.
Read on to get to know him, how he got started and how he thinks about his occupation and the design community.
Hello Tim, thank you for participating in this interview. Could you start by telling us a little about yourself?
My name is Tim Boelaars, Iʼm twenty-one years old. I live and work in Amsterdam.
How did you get started as a designer/illustrator? Did you draw a lot as a kid?
Yes, I used to draw a lot when I was a child, like any other kid I guess. When I was about six years old I used to visit my grandpa. My grandpa made beautiful illustrations and paintings, but was always very shy about his work. When he was younger he worked at a bank, which was a choice made out of safety rather than pleasure. Surrounded by books on art, sitting at his immense desk, he told me stories about pioneers like Goya, Michelangelo, M.C. Escher and Picasso. He taught me how to sketch, paint and find joy in the act of creating. These lessons went on for a few years until he was too damaged by a stroke that took away most of his capabilities. This somehow, feels like a key-moment. My grandpa never got to see my current work, but his influence is one of my biggest motivations to keep on creating.
When I was a teenager I felt like rebelling and started doing graffiti. I was intrigued by the secrecy of this movement and started buying spray-paint and markers. The most striking aspects of graffiti to me were the dynamics, colors and the play with letterforms. I never thought about the damage done, it just felt good. Soon enough I stopped doing this because of the risks involved.
All this time, from when I was young up until now, Iʼve never stopped drawing. It was mostly an act of fun or boredom, rather than knowing I could make a living out of it. More and more I started to notice progression in my work. This progression easily became one of my biggest drives to continue. By looking at – and learning more about – design I knew it wouldnʼt be a passing thing. I mainly taught myself, and Iʼm getting better at it. Iʼd like to just continue to be able to express myself as best as I can.
What do you think is the most important when illustrating and/or designing a logo?
Iʼm not sure, I think everyone has to do what feels best. To me the most important part about designing is to create something that feels authentic and carries the right harmony, the right message. Next to that, I push myself to make better work. This I think is a natural process which often goes unnoticed. To me it feels good sometimes to stop and look back at older work. The fact that my old work is starting to look like shit, must mean I am getting better at it.
Where do you get your inspiration and motivation? Is there something that really helps you design better?
Most of my inspiration comes from looking at old work, both art and graphic-design focused books. Next to that I get inspired by everything around me, which sounds cliche, but I think most inspiration comes through subconsciously. With that understanding Iʼm never really actively looking for inspiration, but try to let it come to me as the days go by. My strongest motivation would be the satisfaction of finishing a piece of work.
Are you a full-time freelancer or do you work at an agency part-time as well? And how are you liking you current work-situation?
Iʼm currently full-time freelancing and am working towards partnering up with a friend of mine to create a more interesting environment. I enjoy freelancing, but canʼt imagine doing it the rest of my life. Iʼd like to be able to work on projects with other people as soon as I can. Doing so will help me create more curious and interesting results.
Your illustrations really have a recognizable and unique style. How did you come to this style and are you aware of the uniqueness of it?
Iʼm not sure if I would describe my own work as unique or recognizable. On the other hand I have heard this more often, so I guess it must be true. To be honest I donʼt really think about it that often because Iʼve grown in to it. I think itʼs most enjoyable when Iʼm able to push this ʻstyleʼ in a new direction, or do something completely different, without losing my signature.
Do you have a process for the amazing illustrations you create? Could you tell us something about it?
Most of the time I start by sketching ideas onto a piece of paper. After that I have a more solid idea of where itʼs headed. Finally I use Adobe to digitize this idea.
Thereʼs no real procedure, protocol or plan I follow, I just love to fight with shapes, sometimes I win.
In our line of work, we spend a lot of time on a computer, making it very tempting to procrastinate. How do you deal with procrastination?
Sometimes I turn off the internet to avoid any distractions, which can be great at times. When itʼs on I frequently check on twitter and have chats on IM. Which is, I think, is not that big of a problem as these distractions can help me wander off so I can get back to work with a fresh view. I also try to plan ahead, and take my time for projects, this way Iʼm able to make something good instead of rushing it. Then again, rush- jobs can be great, as it pushes me to think and act quickly.
Youʼve been around the design community for quite some time now. What do you think about the current state of the design community in comparison with the past, and what do you think will become of it in the (near) future?
I think the community is fantastic and one of the coolest things in our industry. There are so many talented and friendly people out there that are willing to have a chat or help out. This is unique I think, because at the same time we are all competitors, but this is never reflected in our conversation.
The community has created the solution and is constantly sustaining itself by helping one another. Through the years Iʼve come to meet – online as well as face-to-face – some amazing people. From drawing stuff up in my room, Iʼm now able to get my work out there for everyone to see. The feedback and support has been fantastic so far, and Iʼm continually amazed by the warmth within this great community.
What the future may hold, I donʼt know, I just hope that it will continue to grow and stay or become even more amazing as it is nowadays. But the one thing Iʼm sure of, the future will be amazing.
Thanks a lot for this insightful interview, Tim! Really appreciate you taking the time. Do you have any final tips for the readers?
Strive for progression rather than perfection.
An amazing interview! Not only is Tim an extremely talented designer, he is also a very smart young man who knows what he’s talking about.
Be sure to check out his portfolio to see more of his work, and check out his Dribbble profile to see what he’s working on now.
If you’ve enjoyed the interview, do share it with your friends and peers!
In the coming weeks the ‘Interview with a Designer’ series will be continued with more awesome interviews with talented designers. So stay tuned!