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Timothy Goodman

Timothy Goodman is a traditionally trained graphic designer turned artist. At least, that’s what his grandmother calls him.

Making art that matters
Making art that matters

Making art that matters

Ep
105
Nov
04
With
Timothy Goodman
Or Listen On:

Making art that matters.

Timothy Goodman is a traditionally trained graphic designer turned artist. At least, that’s what his grandmother calls him. But you might recognize his work from murals, graffiti, The Patriot Act show on Netflix, or even his collaboration with international clothing brand, Uniqlo. He's done a lot—he even worked at Apple for a year.

As designers, we’re taught not to insert our opinions into our work, but our guest does the exact opposite. Beyond the wild strokes in his artwork, there is one theme that resonates through it all: he takes a stand on issues. Call it politics, opinions or just speaking from the heart, whatever you name it, it's personal and Timothy puts it all out there for the world to see.

In this episode, he and Chris talk about what it means to live that public life. And all the beautiful and ugly things that come along with it.

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edited by
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Episode Transcript

Timothy:
I don't care if you have 1,000,000 followers on Instagram. If you're walking into a room thinking that everyone knows who you are, you need to go to therapy. You know what I'm saying? It's a whole different game and you need to check yourself and have some perspective on what you do. So, I don't take any of that stuff for granted.

Greg:
Hey, I'm Greg Gunn and welcome to The Futur Podcast. Today's guest is a traditionally trained graphic designer turned artist, at least that's what his grandmother calls him. You might recognize his work from murals, graffiti, the Patriot Act Show on Netflix or even his collaboration with international clothing brand, Uniqlo. The guy has done a lot. I mean, he even worked at Apple for a year. Now, as designers, we're taught not to insert our opinions into our work, but our guest does the exact opposite.
Beyond the wild strokes in his artwork, there is one theme that resonates through it all. He takes a clear stance on issues. You could call it politics, opinions or just speaking from the heart, but whatever you name it, it's very personal, and he puts it all out there for the world to see.
In this episode, he and Chris talk about what it means to live that public life, and all the beautiful and ugly things that come along with it. Oh, and there is some light swearing in this one, so heads up if there are kids around. Please enjoy our spirited conversation with Timothy Goodman.

Chris:
So, before we dive in, first, thank you very much for doing this with me.

Timothy:
Yeah.

Chris:
You seem like a very open and transparent person online, and I'm wondering if I can go into the deep places and ask you some of the questions that maybe might make other people uncomfortable. I don't know how you feel about that.

Timothy:
Yeah, let's talk about anything, man. I'm an open book, seriously.

Chris:
Okay. Fantastic. All right. So, I guess I just want to jump in here. So, you're a very public person. It seems like everywhere you look I could find you. You're in that kind of rare space where you're a design celebrity, but there are people who don't know who you are. So, Timothy, can you introduce yourself to our audience and tell them what you do?

Timothy:
Yeah. My name is Timothy Goodman. I am a traditionally trained graphic designer who has sort of moved away from that space and does a lot of illustration work, commercial art, commercial ... I do tons of murals. I consider myself a muralist. I do tons of murals. I'm an author. I'm an artist. My grandma calls me an artist, and I used to think that was pretentious to say, especially ... You come from the graphic design background, a lot of people think, "Oh, you're not supposed to have an opinion. You're not supposed to have a style and inject your personality into it. Design is about your clients," and all of these things.
I think that we have tools to tell stories in really profound ways, personal stories in really profound ways. I'm okay calling myself an artist or whatever. I mean, it doesn't really matter at the end of the day. I do commercial work. I do personal work. I do a lot of things. You could call me an expressionist. I don't care.
You said celebrity and I think that's a really dangerous word, especially in this field. We're not celebrities. I don't care if you have 1,000,000 followers on Instagram. If you're walking into a room thinking that everyone knows who you are, you need to go to therapy. You know what I'm saying?
I've met celebrities. I know real celebrities. You know what I mean? It's a whole different game and you need to check yourself and have some perspective on what you do. So, I don't take any of that stuff for granted. You need to have a bit of humility, which I don't see a lot all the time in our field.

Chris:
Okay. So, I look at it like there are a handful of people that I would consider are, at least within design circles, more household names. So, that's why I called you that. I'm not saying that you call yourself that. So, I'll put that aside for a second. You said-

Timothy:
No, no. I just think it's a really interesting ... because you get that, and you get a lot of pushback because people in the design community don't like "design celebrities" or they have a bias against someone who is well-known in our industry because maybe ... and that goes for every industry, by the way. You could hate Taylor Swift's music and just be mad that she's so popular, but she also connects to a lot of people. So, why is that? Is that good or bad or whatever? I think it trickles down into every community, of course, especially creative community. I think it's always a really interesting dialogue.

Chris:
Yeah. So, okay then, I'll stay there for a second. I think celebrity, dumb and titles or labels like expert are things that other people label you as. As long as you don't walk around thinking, "I'm God's gift, and I can speak a lot of things," so if somebody calls you or me a celebrity or XYZ, I guess that's their right to say, but I can be sure internal attitude, how you see yourself, that keeps you grounded and humble and not too big for your boots, so to speak.

Timothy:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, yeah, exactly. Have you ever struggled people calling you that before?

Chris:
I have, and it's strange for me because this whole public persona game is very new to me. I was a very private professional practicing my business since 1995. It wasn't until the last four or five years that I started making video content. It's a strange phenomenon. My kids, I have two adult boys or not adults, but teenage boys, and they still trip out. When people stop me in the street, they're like, "Dad, why is that guy talking to you." It's like, "I make a lot of videos. Maybe they've seen one."

Timothy:
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Chris:
So, they're still adjusting.

Timothy:
Do you struggle ... I don't know. Have you struggled negatively with that in terms of not people recognizing you, but just knowing, I mean, I guess that's part of it, but knowing that now you are a part of your craft, you, your personality, your face is now synonymous with what you do?

Chris:
I like where our conversation is going. I'm going to tell you right now.

Timothy:
Do you feel cheap about that?

Chris:
I do not, but I know that there's the negative side to it. So, I'd love to talk to you about this because you're very open about these kinds of things, right? So, once you become known, I think assumptions are made about you that are right and wrong. Like I said, they have a right to think whatever they think and sometimes with the positive comes a bit of the negative.
I'm not that sensitive where those things affect me one way or the other. I'm not getting brought up to the mountain tops and I'm not getting dragged into the valley, but there are people who say like, "Well, who are you? You have no talent. You've never done anything with your life. All you are is a marketer. You're a scam artist. You've never done anything." They say all those kinds of things

Timothy:
That's never hurt you at all? That doesn't hurt you at all?

Chris:
It doesn't. I'd love to talk to you about this.

Timothy:
That's good.

Chris:
I'm also a business coach, right? So, I try to help creative people. The thing that I say if somebody called you an octopus, if somebody called you a cucumber, would you pay them any mind? I think the thing is if some part of us believes that internally, and when they call you scam artist or they say that, "You're no good. You don't have any talent," if you believe that, then it can hurt you.
There's a quote out there. I don't know the quote, but the sentiment is something like you can only be hurt by people you let in. So, if I care about what they say, and I believe it to be somewhat true, then it can hurt a lot.

Timothy:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. That's real.

Chris:
Right?

Timothy:
Yeah. Of course. I've never been hurt by someone saying that I don't have a talent or anything, but I haven't been hurt. I have been hurt by other things that come up because I do such personal projects. This is why I see a lot of people will say, "Ignore the haters," or whatever, right?

Chris:
Yeah.

Timothy:
Okay. Let's put haters in parentheses or in quotation marks, I mean, because I think that there's a lot about criticism and you should listen to it. I think that if seven out of 10 people adore everything you do, I think you should listen to those three people and see what they have to say. I think that that's an attitude that I didn't always have early on in my career and early on when I started doing more personal work and working for myself over the course of the last eight years.
Early on, anytime there was any criticism, I go, "They're just a hater," whatever. "They're jealous," or whatever, but no, no, no, no. I think it's really important to listen to criticism because that's helping me grow in a lot of ways with the kind of work I do because we're in the business of consequence. I don't care what you do. I do murals, right? I do murals for myself and for brands all over the world.
If I don't understand the dynamic and the nuance of what I'm projecting, what I'm communicating, if I don't understand that something might be offensive to someone else, maybe I'm putting something on a wall, if I don't understand that, then I'm part of a problem. If I'm not educated enough with the things that are happening in the world as a communicator and I offend someone and someone feels offended by something that I've made, I need to listen to that person. You know what I'm saying? That's something I didn't understand early on, and I quickly got in line with, and I think that that's really important for us to think about.

Chris:
Okay. I have a bunch of questions for you just based on that. I do read all the comments everywhere. I'm now tuning them out. I'm trying to be objective when I read them. So, are they giving me critical information or are they just saying, "You're ugly. You're stupid," because I can't do anything with that.

Timothy:
That's different. Yeah. Someone's personal.

Chris:
Right. So, I put that inside. You're right. So, some people say, "This wasn't clear," or "It felt like you were doing X, Y, and Z and you meant to do this," and I embrace all of that. You're right. It's part of your growth, but I noticed something especially just looking at your feed on Instagram. You take positions on things. When you take a position, you're a champion for some types of people and then you become the enemy to some other kinds of people.
For example, you're very outspoken about inclusion, especially when it comes to public speaking. You wrote about how you were invited to become part of a campaign where a company talks about diversity, but you're like, "Dude, I'm a straight White guy. What are you doing? This doesn't feel authentic." So, you turn these things down and you've turned down public speaking things that you're committed to because you looked at it's 30 White dudes again.
So, that's going to make people who are going to say, "Shut up, Timothy. What are you doing?"

Timothy:
Yeah, of course.

Chris:
There's people who agree about that, so do you process that?

Timothy:
No, I don't process that because I know I'm on the right side of history, so it doesn't matter. Here's the thing. Yeah, you'll get pushback from folks who think that ... I've lost, obviously, lots of opportunities because of that and I've lost lots of money. It's not just for speaking gigs. It's also for campaigns that I'm a part of and things like that, making sure that if there's going to be other artists involved or whatever, that they are being inclusive and considering all this.
On the other hand, I have ... So, that kind of stuff I don't care. I know what I'm doing is right. Now I have gotten pushback from folks because I do talk about it openly. I share emails, for instance. It's like, "Oh, are you virtual signaling? Are you being performative just to show that you're this "good person" or that you want a pat on your back especially as a straight cis White guy?"
All of that I do take to heart, and I do consider. I think those are fair. I think everyone should be suspect, especially every cis straight White guy, especially cis straight White guy who is openly talking about these things. You should even be more suspect than me. So, I complete am down of all that.
The reason I talk about it so much is because I want to challenge other cis straight White guys in our community. I want to challenge them to think about this kind of stuff. I want to openly challenge everyone to think about these kind of things as they move and as they navigate this industry or they take on opportunities, as they do these kind of things. I've talked to many people, White dudes, who had told, "Thank you. You've made me think about this."
It is such an elevated position because it's a privilege to be asked to speak and be a part of these things, but it trickles down on I don't care if you're a manager at a firm or something. How are you thinking about the people you're working with and the visibility you're giving folks. So, that's the reason I talk about it. Who knows how much it helps or how much it doesn't. I can't measure that, but I believe in my heart it's the right thing to do.

Chris:
Now, I probably shouldn't say this, but I'll tell you how ignorant I am. I didn't even know that term virtual signaling until Brian Collins started asking me about it and like, "Hey, Chris. Is this virtual signaling?"
I was like, "I don't think so, Brian."
I know you guys have a history together, but just for people who ... Let's just assume some people don't even know what that is, right? What is virtual signaling to you?

Timothy:
I think it's about being performative, right? It's trying to shout out like, "Look, look what I'm doing. Look at the good I'm doing," but maybe you're not actually doing anything beyond that. I think a lot of it's also related to social media, how we ... It's like the classic post the black square on Blackout Tuesday for Black Lives Matter, right? That's a good classic example of what a virtual signaling is.
It's like, "Okay. I post the black square. See? I'm not racist. See? I'm doing my part," but it's like, "No, that doesn't actually do anything or mean anything. How are you actually doing the work in life, in real life and how are you actually, whether you have a platform or not, how are you using this? How are you challenging people in your life?" So, it has to go way beyond that, of course. Yeah. So, I think that that's an example of what it is.

Chris:
Okay. Help me if I understand it then. So, if you don't really truly care about an issue, and you're insincere about it or you're jumping on the bandwagon because it seems to be [crosstalk 00:16:05] to do is that part of that virtual signaling and just, "Hey, guys. Pat me on the back. I'm with you," but not really.

Timothy:
Yeah. I think it's a demonstration of one's good character, publicly expressing your sentiments about something but not actually doing anything more beyond that. You know what I mean? So, I also think virtual signaling, I think it's still there whether or not you're doing the work, and that you could still be doing the work and do this and, yeah, maybe it is still virtual signaling, but I also think that sometimes you have to put a flag down on the ground to let people know where you stand, especially of your audience so that maybe you can influence some other people to consider those things and go along with it. So, I don't know if it's a bad thing either.

Chris:
Okay. One of the thing I want to follow up with you on is you talked about the black square for Black Lives Matter with George Floyd. This whole thing was boiling over. I as a person of color, as an immigrant to this country, I felt hurt. I don't cry that often, but when I watched that for the first time, tears are coming down my eyes that human beings can be this way to each other. So, I'm getting caught up in the swell of this thing. I'm not an activist. I don't speak on these things. I try to teach people business. I generally leave politics out of it. I'm trying to help creative people make a living doing what they love.
So, when there's this whole thing like, "Hey, Chris. We got to get behind this," everybody is supposed to black out their screen, all right? Then you do it, and then some people pushback like, "Shut up." It's like, "So we shouldn't say that we're aligned in this battle?" but I'm not saying like I'm the warrior for social justice, I'm not. So, how does one walk that line? Do I support it or do I not support it? It gets really confusing.

Timothy:
Well, I think part of the pushback is just whether or not ...It's tough because it's like, of course, you support it, but a black square is not necessarily, yes, it's a way to signal that you're supporting it, but what are you actually doing to support it? I think that's where people get upset because it's just like the good liberal thing to do is just to show that, "Hey, I care," and do a hashtag or whatever, but how are you actively supporting it and how can you show that?
So, whether it is getting your audience to help donate money for certain things that happen or getting people to sign petitions or call their representatives or going out to the protest and all that kind of stuff, and how are you challenging other people in your lives having these difficult conversations with people? How are you challenge your racist brother, your racist cousin, and your racist uncle?
All of those kind of things I think that's part of the actual work. I think people get upset rightfully so when everybody just wants to post some black square and they're like, "Okay. This is bullshit."

Chris:
Sure.

Timothy:
I get it. You want to show that you want to encourage other people to do it and be aligned with these values, but I think there's obviously just infinite amount of work to continue to do. That's beyond that.

Chris:
Right. Okay. I want to ask one more question about this before we move on to you as an artist and as a designer because I have a lot of questions there is that you'll put out a note and I respect that you block out specific names of people, but when an organizer invite you to do public speaking, and then you say, "I changed my mind because of this," do you think the other organizers are reluctant to potentially invite you and book you and be called out for it? What kind of damages that do to you? I mean, I have two more followup questions to this, but it's all around public speaking and I'm taking us dancing with that.

Timothy:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm sure it does. I think that that's part of this. I can't worry about whether or not I'm going to lose more opportunities and money speaking-wise. I think this is all a very nuance conversation. I also recognize that I'm in the position to be getting hired for my art, to have clients so that I'm not ... A lot of people, a lot of their annual income comes from speaking. That's a big part of what they do in this small little niche world of ours who does these kind of things.
So, I understand, and especially if you're young and you want experience and certain kinds of opportunities, but this is so important, this kind of thing. Also, these organizers, it's not just always about the lineup being inclusive but also your audience. If your audience is all White, well, what does that say? How can you get ... So, I just think it's twofold. This has to work both ways because we need the textures of stories and different kinds of people and their backgrounds and their lives to come through and to represent the world.
I just think that ... So, I don't know. I'm being long-winded here, but I'm not worried about that. I can't worry. I know I've lost opportunities. I've lost lots of things like, and it's the right thing now. I just have to keep going on.

Chris:
So, there's a flip side to this equation, which is you take a stance, there's a consequence, and it doesn't require much courage. If you take an action, there's no consequence. That to me is virtual signaling like, "Yeah, I did this thing, and it's not going to hurt me at all," right? So, you took a position. You stand for something.
Here's the other flip side to it, which is you have a positive message that you may be one of the 30 White straight guys on stage who are going to say something very different, not necessarily call out the organizer, but to spread a message of inclusion and positivity, but the audience that shows up never gets to hear that because you're not there.

Timothy:
Well, here's the thing. There's two things to that. First of all, when I get asked to speak and I have a conversation, I have a dialogue with the organizers, it's not like I'm just sitting there on my high horse like pointing my fingers out. I'm saying, "Listen. What's your lineup?" I go on their website, I look at the past lineup. I see it for my ... So, whatever. I call them out or call them in or however you want to define it.
I say, "Listen. What are you doing about this this year because I can't be a part of it if it's like this."
Then a lot of times, I've actively worked with them. I give them a list of 30-40 names of people. I talk about this kind of thing with them. I try to educate them on it. I try to work with them for a minute to see if they will fill the thoughts with people of color, with Black people, with Black women.
A lot of times, it might be a lot of White people, four Asian people, and then it would be 15 White people, four Asian people and that's it. You know what I mean? It's like, "Okay. Are you going to get any Black people?" I have these uncomfortable conversations with them. Several times, it's worked where they make a point to make it more inclusive, to get more people and not just get that one token person to actually have a well-rounded lineup.
Obviously, many times it doesn't, but I work with them first about that. I'm sorry. What was the rest of the question? There's something else I wanted to say.

Chris:
I think you mostly handled it because, well, the question was if you say, "Look, I'm going to not speak unless you make an effort and there are some results," then you decide not to do it. Then your message, the one guy who might bring that message to the masses and you get to hear that.

Timothy:
So, my point is, okay. So, there's a thousand people, whatever, 500 people, 1,000 people at this conference, 2,000, 3,000 tops. Okay. There's a hell of a lot more people on social media that are going to get the message.

Chris:
That's true.

Timothy:
So, I'm not going to fill a slot and take this money just to tell those 2,000 people or those, I mean, 500 people at a conference. I think that there's a lot more opportunity to get to people just by talking about it on social media, and I'm still-

Chris:
So, that's how you're juggling it then.

Timothy:
So, I've already actively had that dialogue with the conference organizer, so they already know. So, I don't have to call them out on stage or something. I have considered in the past taking certain things and seeing and it's like, "Well, maybe I'll take this." This is not a speaking gig, but more of an art campaign. "Maybe I should take this and then take the money and donate it or something."
So, I've considered things like that. It didn't work out at that time or two, but I definitely have considered things like that. I don't know. It's always a little bit of a juggling that.

Chris:
Yeah. I could see if you take the money you could give a scholarship to four people who could attend so that-

Timothy:
Yeah, exactly, exactly.

Chris:
... they're like, "This is how the game is played," and take them under your wing or whatever, but there's a lot of ways to solve this. I get it. You're right. Social platforms are much bigger than the limited space in which you're going to speak in, anyway. So, you're still getting your message out there.

Timothy:
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Greg:
Time for a quick break, but we'll be right back with more from Timothy Goodman.
Hey, Greg Gunn from The Futur here. That's right. It's me again. Now, The Futur's mission is to teach one billion creatives how to make money doing what they love without feeling gross about it. Now, maybe you're in school, but you feel like you're not getting what you need or maybe you're like me and sold all of your internal organs to pay for private art school tuition, but it's been a while, and you want to sharpen up some of those skills.
Well, fortunately for you, we have a bunch of courses and products designed specifically to help you become a smarter and more versatile creative. Design courses like typography, logo design, and color for creatives go deep into the design fundamentals that you need to know and command in order to be successful. Check out all of our courses and products about learning design by visiting thefutur.com/design.
Welcome back to our conversation with Timothy Goodman.

Chris:
So, let's get back to Timothy as the artist and the designer. I noticed that there's a very specific order in which you list these things, but it's designer, illustrator, muralist, painter, et cetera, et cetera, but when did you make that transition from being "graphic designer", setting type on a page with images to you expressing yourself through your art form?

Timothy:
Well, you mentioned Brian Collins before, and that's where it all started, about two years out of school or a year, maybe a year. No, no, about a year after school I started working for him when he just started his new company Collins. This is back in 2008. I worked for him for almost three years.
During that time, I was very heavily influenced by this man, who is quite a mentor and a teacher, and a very colorful person as you know. Being very young at the time and influenced, I think that during that process, he really allowed me to find my voice in a lot of ways and play and explore.
I always tell my students and young designers to really think about it's not what you want to do in the beginning as long as it's not working for things that uphold racist or sexist platforms and stuff. It's not about what you want to do, it's about who you want to work for. I'm a big believer on having mentors, and I've always organically found these people in my life that could teach me something directly or indirectly.
At the time, fresh out of school, Brian was my old [inaudible 00:30:00] Brian was just very big for that. So, he really allowed me to play and explore and encouraged and supported me to do all kinds of ... He encouraged and supported me to do freelance. I just started doing New York Times illustrations and little editorial illustrations. He really let me flourish and do all these things on the side.
So, yeah, during that process, I'm working full-time for him in branding, and working a lot of hours. I was also doing a ton of freelance at the time. I just wanted to find things and make things and express myself and try, and just really exhaust the possibilities and concepts of what you could do as a designer. So, I didn't care if it was type ... especially with the New York Times editorial piece, you have to really to something really quick. You have to read an article and be able to tell the totality of this article in one little small image. You don't really get a lot of time to make these things. You get five hours a day and night to come up with an image that tells a story.
So, I was learning how to make things quickly. I was learning how to drew Brian and working for myself. I was learning how to make images quickly and try to tell concepts within as a visual story really fast. I was running in the stairwell and making sketches on little pieces of paper and taking a picture with my phone and sending it to the art directors.
During that whole process, I was just constantly making things. I was just addicted to making and working at the time. I think, ultimately, I realized years later that in therapy I'm healthy, that wasn't the time, but that's a different story, and how much I was running away from so many other things.
Yeah. Those two, three, years, and I did my first mural at the time in 2010. That was the most intoxicating experience creatively I've ever had at that point. I was like, "Oh, what is this? I want this. I want this more and more. How do I make this? How do I make this feeling part of my career going forward?"

Chris:
The style that I think of you today is that's something that was something that you could use in client work when you're working with Brian or was that something you developed after?

Timothy:
No. I developed during, developed during.

Chris:
During, okay.

Timothy:
During. Yeah. It's developed during, but I wasn't doing stuff like that. I went to SVA in New York in a traditional design studio. I took type classes and all of that, and I had a thesis. So, I went from Brian, I worked at Apple for a year in San Francisco, 2010, and that was right when I did my first mural. So, when I was at Apple, there was this moment where I realized, "Oh, I'm not committed to this at all." I'm rushing home every night to do freelance to try to get people to give me a wall to do somewhere on the weekend.
I was just like, "I'm not committed to this." I was actively trying to get more clients and more editorial work, magazine covers, and all these things because I wanted this to work for myself, but I needed to go. Sometimes you have to go. You have to go off and do something to realize what you don't want and what you do want through that process. I mean, like moving to San Francisco for that year and working for Apple was so much a part of something I needed to do because I knew going there, I was like, "I don't think this is right, but I guess I can get my teeth fixed and my mom can tell her friends. My mom can tell her friends what I do for a living. I guess I could try to get some stock. Okay." It's like Apple. How can you say no? Don't me a schmuck. Don't be some privilege ass. I don't know. For me, personally, it just did never clicked.

Chris:
Okay. Okay. I would describe your style, but I have you on the call with me. So, how would you describe your style for people who aren't seeing your work right now? How would you describe it?

Timothy:
Well, I do several different things that I get hired for and known for. So, one of them is I write a lot of things. Okay? I started writing things and posting them on Instagram years ago. I write stories about love and relationships and things I go through, but I also write little one-off phrases and things like that that have ultimately become things that I put on walls as murals.
Sometimes they're corny, cheesy, euphorisms, things, even my feelings have feelings, don't look for love, look for pizza. Sometimes they're very personal and nuance and things like, "Today I cried in my therapist's office when he told me that he cared about me, and fuck anyone who's not in my life." So, I don't know. So, they sway and go back and forth. Sometimes I put these on walls and these are things I put on Instagram a lot, and then a lot of times, when I work with brands, like in 2018, I had a Uniqlo collection that came out.
They loved many of the things I've written. So, we put them on shirts and tote bags that were very much a part of my entire collection over 35 shirts and hoodies that sold worldwide, globally, one million units.
So, a lot of these things I write, they've been on all kinds of things all over the place. I've had shows of them, the stories I write too about love and relationship. I've had shows of them caught in Paris and then in Los Angeles, and in New York. So, that's one of the things I do.
Now, I also do, I draw in a very key pairing lime work type way. I do these whimsical drawings with a marker that is just a lot of times just black and white and they're drawings and words that all combine very densely together as a pattern. I do these as packaging. I've done them for all kinds of different clients. They work as my part of my Uniqlo collection as well.
I also do them live. So, I do them as wall murals. I do them at events. I get hired, but I do them live. I have a paint marker and I draw. It's a performance. I can draw. I do them very fast. I have no patience. This is how I always tell a lot of young designers to think about your habits. I'm inherently an impatient person. Through that, I don't like to labor over artwork or my craft.
So, inherently, that has grown, that has, through my style, flourished because I've tapped into that. So, if I have a 50-foot wall to do, 50 foot by 10 feet high, I want to be done today. I don't want to come back tomorrow. I don't care if it takes me 15 hours today. That's just how I am.
So, the more and more you do something, the better you get. It's like doing pushups or something or going for a run. You go do it and you get better and better, and it becomes the threshold between your suffering and the joy of it gets smaller and smaller, and that's through the years.
So, now, I'll do a 50-foot wall in eight hours or something. You train. Your body has an intelligence. How do you tap into that? So, it's really always a performative study for me. So, I do these lives or I'll do them on streets, where I'll do these really long murals in a matter of six, seven, eight hours.

Chris:
I've seen you do these things in time blocks fashion. I keep thinking to myself, how much of that is mapped beforehand and how much of it is just "I'm in the moment. This is what I feel" and it just comes out that way? Because the way that you work, there's not really room for undos. It's like that's what it is, right? These really thick black or white markers that you're working with, and it's just flowing.

Timothy:
Yeah. There's no composition map. I don't do that. There is a map in terms of content. So, if I'm working for a client, what happens is we make a list of things I'm going to draw. A lot of times, that list is approved by the client. So, it's like a list of objects, a list of words. So, once that list is done, then I have it, I look at my phone, and I draw.
If I'm doing it for myself, the same thing. I make a list of everything I'm probably going to draw. I just did one. I do a lot of graffiti. I do a lot of illegal graffiti work as well. I was just on the streets of New York this past weekend. I wake up. It's become a fun ritual between me and my assistant. We every once in a while, because you got to do it early so there's less people in the street, less police officers.
So, I wake up at 4:00, 4:30, 5:00 in the morning, go out to the place I've already found and scoped and had strategy around. So, we go to this wall and then it's really an act of trying to get this done as quick as possible and not getting arrested, obviously. What was my point? What were we talking about? I don't know where I was going with this.

Chris:
How premeditated are these compositions or these events?

Timothy:
Yeah. I just did that. I was like, "Okay. I want this to be ..." This is on the streets of New York, and it was this long 70-foot black wall. It was like boards that they've painted. It's front of an empty building that I just come across meeting a friend last week. So, I started taking a picture and scoping it out and thinking about it.
So, I didn't make a list of everything I'm going to draw, but I made a list of some of the key things I wanted to highlight, which is wear a mask, Black Lives Matter, save the USPS, drink water, tell a racist they're racist. I had these things I want, but then I was just drawing and having fun.
Now, it's also interesting doing these things because I recognized the huge privilege I have because of the color of my skin to be out on the street at 5:00 in the morning drawing on a wall. Now, I have been arrested before for graffiti, the rest of last summer, but it's important for me if I'm going to do these things to say something, to actually challenge the passerby, to actually do something that I find meaningful that would be meaningful to other people.
So, because I do recognize the huge privilege that I had to be out there, if I was a Black guy at 5:00 in the morning with a half-painted wall of art and the cop rolls by, he's going to stop and ask that guy, "What's up?" Me, it doesn't happen. Like I said, I've been arrested, but 99% of the time, this past Sunday, cop rolled by three times. I just acted like I was on my phone and nothing happened. So, it's an interesting dynamic that way. So, it's always important for me to actually say something if I'm going to have this. So, I don't take it for granted.

Chris:
So, I'm curious about this because I've not talked to many street artists in my life. Your assistant works as the lookout, right?

Timothy:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Chris:
He's posted or she's posted somewhere and signals to you, "Yo, stop doing what you're doing," and you get the bat signal and you stop, and then you're seen you're doing something else.

Timothy:
You get the bat signal.

Chris:
You're just an innocent bystander. Okay.

Timothy:
Exactly. Yeah.

Chris:
Have you been, I'm just curious, approached by a cop semi-caught in the act where they're like, "No, I actually like your art. It's cool."

Timothy:
Oh, no, no, no, no.

Chris:
No? Okay.

Timothy:
No, no, no, no, no. I've been arrested one time where a cop came out of nowhere with a taser and ran up on us while I was in the act and arrested me. I went to holdings on bookings for eight hours. So, that was a whole thing, but that was the only time. You know what I mean? I've had many close calls many, many times, close calls, of course, but that was the only time. So, no, no, I've never had a cop come up at me in the act and say, "You know what? Keep doing what you're doing." I don't know if that would happen. They have recorded a film especially during COVID times. So, I think they're looking.

Chris:
I guess it's a fantasy of mine as a person who appreciates art and say, "Look. This is something that was boarded up, and it's going to get tagged on by somebody at least. This looks beautiful. It's thoughtful and it's composed. There's good vibes and positive messages. It's not ask the police, I mean, or maybe it is.

Timothy:
What's beautiful, though, all of our cellphone right now, there's just so much graffiti. It's so gorgeous. It's happened since everything got boarded up since the protest happened, after George Floyd and all that kind of stuff. A lot of people are doing it right now.
I don't know, but the bail system is a whole problem, and I hope not too many people are getting arrested for graffiti these days because it's just really sad because it's $500 to $1,000 bail and a lot of people can't afford that, and then they're stuck in bookings forever, and then it goes on the record. It's just really ... So, a lot of times, I've tried to get people to donate to the [Delphon 00:45:13] system, which I do, too, monthly now because it's just such a huge problem, especially here in New York.

Chris:
The time that you were arrested, what were you charged with? Does that stay in your record and how much did it cost to get out of that whole thing?

Timothy:
So, what happened to me is that I had to pay a $500 fee to the building. They just had their maintenance guy paint over whatever I did. When I got arrested, it was a very small thing that I was doing. Yeah. So, it was just a $500 fee. I was very close to getting a misdemeanor on my record, but it was dropped because I was able to pay that fee.

Chris:
Wow.

Timothy:
So, that's what's so devastating about so much of this. You know what I mean? Because if you can't pay that fee, you're getting a misdemeanor in your record and then how does that affect ... Then you also have to go to court two or three times, and then how does that affect you losing your job, you not being able to ... and then you have a misdemeanor in your record, you can't get a job, you can't support your family. It just trickles down.
So, being a part of that, seeing how that work in the system, even the small little thing that happened to me was just so eyeopening to see how privileged I am in the face of all this shit, you know what I mean, and how this just keeps trickling down. So, that's when I started really donating a lot of money as much as I can and setting up a monthly to the [Delphon 00:46:41] It's just a problem.

Chris:
Okay. So, hard shift here.

Timothy:
Yeah.

Chris:
I have to talk to you about this, which is about you being very open to what you're feeling, talking about therapy, talking about loneliness, talking about mental health, talking about love and then heartbreak. Can we go there?

Timothy:
Yeah.

Chris:
I mean, what does this do for you? I read this whole story about you falling in love. I think it was summer of 2019, about this girl. I'm just reading it. I'm like, "Holy cow!" You're like the serial killer in Seven when he's writing these notes, but that new crime in terms of the [crosstalk 00:47:19]

Timothy:
Are you following me on serial killer?

Chris:
No, but I was like, "Man! You screw up on a lot of here, and it just jacks the whole thing up, and you just keep writing," and there's this whole story that's unfolding, and I followed the whole drama. I was thinking, "This is it. He's in love. This is the end of the love story."
Then it seems like at the end of the year, something happened and it didn't work out. How does all of this living in public affect you? I think there's things that I just want to feel by myself and I don't need everybody to be in on that and you live so openly. How does that impact you as a human being?

Timothy:
I mean, it's a very interesting question. It's something that I talked a lot about, thought a lot about, talked to my therapist a lot about because what I've said before is that I have to constantly consider and evaluate my position in the face of all this because I don't want to find myself in a loop where I am then doing things for my art. You know what I mean? It's not healthy to be like, "Well, I can find myself in pain and heartbreak or loneliness, and it's okay because I can just make it art now and share it," because I think that that can really go down on a slippery slope and be very, obviously, inactive, and I just won't grow as a person. I don't want that.
So, it's an interesting question that I don't know if I have an answer for right now. I do think that I love to tell stories. I don't know what I do is any different than someone who later writes a memoir or later writes a novel based on a love story that they had or make some movie or shoots a documentary about something in their life. I see it the same way. It just comes out in different forms.
I mean, I've done these social experiments, these large social experiments, many with my good friend Jessica Walsh like 40 Days of Dating in 12 Kinds of Kindness. A lot of it is I just think that we have so much material as humans. What better way? You can start right with yourself. I think that a lot of this becomes the means to use yourself as a catalyst to find out more about who you are and I think that it's a vehicle to get you there sometimes on a different way.
I think with 40 Days of Dating, it's a project we did many years ago at this point, six or seven years ago. Through that process, I realized, "You know what? I'm a sexist. I'm a misogynist, actually. This is the way I was raised. This is how we acted in my neighborhood. This is the kind of media I consumed over the years, and I have work to do."
I might not think I am, but I am. I call myself a recovering misogynist now in a lot of ways. I think most men, especially straight men in this country, if they were really looking in the mirror, too, they would have to confront their own sexism and misogyny as well because of how we're raised and the kind of things we consume through the years as boys in our community.
So, I'm thankful for that. You know what I mean? Had I not done that project and had I not been, yeah, that project, we don't have to talk too much, but that project, obviously, garnered a lot of incredible things career-wise successfully. A lot of people really connected to it, all of that. It's going back to that where we talked about the criticism. People called me sexist, misogynist, player, whatever. They had issues. Some women had issues with what I was doing, how I was portraying myself. I had a choice to make. I listen to that stuff. So, I'm thankful for that.
So, a lot of times, some of these things I do really teach me more about myself in so many ways because you do have to live with the consequences of them. They are these little time capsules. That's what I love. The story you read, the nine-part story, right? It's this time capsule of this moment. I'm really interested in using a lot of these things in exposure therapy.
When she and I broke up, I would go into my therapist's office through the months as I was going through really the steps of grief from shock to depression, to anger, to reconstruction, to hope. I was writing things because that's how I could deal with things. It's one of the ways I deal with things through my grief, through my depression, through my sadness, through my loneliness is writing about it. It's really a therapeutic act for me.
So, through this, I would go to my therapist's office. It was like a fucking poetry slam competition. I would read these things out loud to him and he would stand up and give me a round of applause. I'd be crying or something, whatever, depending on what was going on. So, then I have this material. So, I say, "Okay. Well, what would it mean to just share this and connect to other people who feel the same way?" Because I read a while ago that something's, I'm paraphrasing, but sharing your personal stories is a sort of activism, sharing what breaks you and makes you feel lonely in the world, and connecting to other lonely people in the world.
You can argue about what activism means in so many different ways, but when you do something like this and I'm connecting, I'm getting thousands of DMs from people who are also going through heartbreak, who also feel hopeless, who also feel like they have issues because like myself with abandonment depression based on the way they are raised and attachment disorder and all these kind of things, and how they don't feel lovable as well. It's a really tremendous experience to be able to have these conversations with so many people who also feel the same way as you do.

Chris:
I realized we're coming up on an hour, but I have to ask you a couple more questions. So, I'm going to ask you, hopefully, so I can tackle some of these. Just do them as fast as you can. Take your time, but just do them as fast as you can, okay? So, here's something I want to know from you, which is what does that internal dialogue sound like inside Timothy Goodman's mind? Because you're conflicted with being-

Timothy:
During when?

Chris:
Right. I'll explain. You're a complicated person. There's lots of things going on, but when you said, "I was being sexist. I was being misogynistic," and then you're also a White guy. Is there a battle inside your mind like, "Who am I? What am I doing?" and are you being self-critical? Is there a war going on in there or no?

Timothy:
No, not at all. No.

Chris:
Okay.

Timothy:
Do you want me to-

Chris:
Oh, that was very short. Okay. That's fine. That's fine because when you realize something like, "Oh, my God! I'm one part of the problem that I don't like."

Timothy:
Yeah, but, by the way, I'm always going to be part of the problem, and you're always going to be a part of the problem as a man, too. It's not saying that you have to actively constantly be at war with yourself, but you should be constantly learning and unlearning and evaluating as things come up, especially as you make things and put things out in the world. It goes back to, I think we talked about it earlier, the business of consequence and having accountability for what you do and what you put out there and how you say things and what your actions are, and really having accountability.
I don't struggle with that. I want to be a part of those conversations. I want to be better. I want to constantly learn and unlearn. I think that it's very rich. It's very rewarding in that way. So, it's not struggling with who I am. Actually, I feel becoming more enlightened with who I am in those ways.

Chris:
Perfect. Okay. The other question-

Timothy:
Joseph Campbell said, "Where you stumble, there lies your treasure."

Chris:
Hmm. Love that.

Timothy:
I always think about that, personally, whatever.

Chris:
Okay. The question I asked you about putting your heart out there for everybody to read, I think you're reflective of a whole generation of designers and artists who are doing things very differently than, say, just the generation before like for me, I'm a private person, and people want to claw that on me, but I'm like, "Okay. We'll help you. I'll show you a little bit more," but you're living, you had posed this question. What's the difference between you sharing it on social media as these posts versus writing a memoir years later? I think the only difference is time and perspective, where you can write your memoir and say, "Okay. I know how the story is going to end. I know what the takeaway is. I know what I feel about myself and what I want you to think after you read these things," but in this way, you're living in realtime, which I applaud you for. I don't have that same energy about that.

Timothy:
I'm doing it as a songwriter, though. You wouldn't say about a songwriter or a musician. They write them in realtime and they record them.

Chris:
That's true.

Timothy:
You know what I mean?

Chris:
Very true.

Timothy:
Then the album comes out and that's very much like what I'm doing. I like to capture it as I'm going through. I think that's just part of the process.

Chris:
That's a great analogy. I get that. Okay.

Timothy:
So, basically, what I'm saying is I'm Bob Dylan. No, I'm kidding.

Chris:
You're this generation's Bob Dylan in the [crosstalk 00:57:43]

Timothy:
This Bob Dylan, this fucking guy.

Chris:
Okay. Last question for you and it's probably the heaviest question, heaviest question coming at you right now, which is you seem like a guy who lives a pretty charmed life. You're tall, you're fit, you're good-looking, you have opportunities to work with world famous brands like Uniqlo, you've been on TV shows like one of my favorite, The Patriot Act and you're there not just a little bit.

Timothy:
Hasan Minhaj, he just got canceled, too. I'm heartbroken.

Chris:
I know. I saw that. You weren't just there for a little bit, you were there for the whole thing. They're going to have you come in and come out, but the question here is with all that and you can express yourself in so many different ways through poetry, through love stories, through art, and doodles, and drawings, and murals, and everything that you do. I got to ask you this question.

Timothy:
Yeah.

Chris:
Are you lonely or do you get really into that dark place and do you feel sad? Where does this come from because it's hard to see that from the outside?

Timothy:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. No. I struggle with loneliness all the time. It's something my therapist told me. He was like, "Man, you've been lightweight depressed since you were eight years old." It's something I didn't even realize. You know what I mean? I think I feel lonely a lot of the times.
So, I went through a bad time, a lot of depression in 2018 just thereafter the Uniqlo collection. I remember I was traveling a lot for it, and I was thinking, "Okay," and then I come home and it's like, "What the hell am I doing any of this for? Why have I worked so hard for so many years?"
Obviously, you always do a grass is always greener on the other side of things, but it's just really confronting what the hell I want, what I want out of life, and what kind of meaning am I looking for, and what are my tactics when these things comes up because you have to have a strategy. That's something I've learned. How to find comfort in your loneliness, too, and how to find solace with that.
So, it's something I struggle with a lot. You know what I mean? What I've tried to realize is not use my work as a crutch anymore, which I think is something I realized I was doing for so long. You go through something, "Oh, I'll just put my head down and work 100 hours a day and forget about it," and that worked for a long time, and it doesn't work anymore. I don't want it to work either. I want to be proactive about my health, my mental health, my sleeping, my drinking water, my doing the things, whatever. It's personal for everyone. Any of those things that you need to do that bring you a sense of meaning in this life and also encourage a good healthy body and mind and spirit, meditation, whatever.
That's one abstract came out of that that bad funk in 2018. I came out of it and said, "I want to start doing things that I want to do for myself, not for anyone else, not for my career." That's when I started learning French. That's why I tried to make time and carve out and plan and go to Paris for a couple of months, which is something that just was important for me at the time to try to do.
So, I just think that, and I cook, I started cooking more, and finding these moments of peace in life, and reestablishing relationships with family and friends and what I want out of a relationship and all these kind of things that helped me find comfort in the face of all of this. So, I don't know. That was long-winded, but yes and no.

Chris:
No, I loved that. Based on that, I think I could have another four-hour conversation with you. It's unfortunate, but this podcast does have to come to an end. Maybe there's another time you and I can talk again where we can really go into the deep emotional stuff because I think that's going to be so helpful to so many people.

Timothy:
Yeah, man. I would love to. I appreciate it.

Chris:
Thank you so much for doing this. Thank you for your openness, for your honesty, for your positive vibes, and using your position in the world to try to bring light to certain matters that I think more of us need to talk about. So, I thank you for that.

Timothy:
Thank you. Thanks, Chris. I appreciate that. Thanks for having me on. My name is Timothy Goodman and you are listening to The Futur.

Greg:
Thanks for joining us this time. If you haven't already, subscribe to our show on your favorite podcasting app and get a new insightful episode from us every week. The Futur Podcast is hosted by Chris Do and produced by me, Greg Gunn. Thank you to Anthony Barro for editing and mixing this episode, and thank you to Adam Sanborne for our intro music.
If you enjoyed this episode, then do us a favor by rating and reviewing our show on Apple podcast. It will help us grow the show and make future episodes that much better. Have a question for Chris or me? Head over to thefutur.com/heychris and ask away. We read every submission and we just might answer yours on a later episode. If you'd like to support the show and invest in yourself while you're at it, visit thefutur.com. You'll find video courses, digital products, and a bunch of helpful resources about design and creative business. Thanks again for listening and we'll see you next time.

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