Timothy Hoyer Interview | Highlark


Timothy Hoyer is an artist we have been following for some time now. Most of you probably know him for his amazing tattooing ability, but Tim is now transitioning and focusing more on his paintings. Much like his tattoos, his paintings feature vibrant colors and a unique mix of Japanese and Western themes. I particularly love his black and white ink drawings which are done in a style reminiscent of ukiyo-e.

Not only was Tim kind enough to shoot over some photos of his incredible work, he even took some time to do a little Q&A! It’s always inspiring to get insight from an artist that you admire, and I was really excited to be able to ask these questions. Thank you Tim for sharing some of your thoughts with us!


Q 1 || When you were discovering your talent for art, did you always want to be a tattoo artist?

I started drawing as soon as I could hold a pencil & always knew I wanted to be an artist. I originally thought I might be an oil painter like my dad but when I started going to punk rock shows in my early teens and seeing tattoos on a lot of the touring hardcore bands in the early 80’s, I was totally hooked!

Q 2 || You primarily use ink, watercolor and gouache for your artwork, how did you arrive at those methods? Did you also experiment with other formats? 

Watercolor just seems to be the most comfortable at the moment and for me it definitely came out of painting tattoo flash. I have done some oil paintings in the past and I’ve been thinking about doing some oils again in the future, so you never know. I’d also love to do some sculpture, although I don’t know much about it right now.

Q 3 || What is your initial process when starting a new piece? Is it conceptualized before or do you just start drawing/painting and see where you end up?

It sounds a bit backwards but for me paintings often start with a title, just a random word or phrase that pops up and I feel like I can go somewhere with it. I do small thumbnail sketches to work out layouts and ideas but they’re extremely quick and rough, like little more than chicken scratches usually. Once I have the idea, I try to get out of the way and let things develop without steering it too hard in any specific direction.

Q 4 || Who or what are some of your biggest inspirations and influences?

My lovely wife Doreen is my most valuable inspiration and critic, but tons of other people too. Way too many to name but some favorites right now would be Kyosai, Hokusai, Neo Rauch, Rubens, Kano Hogai, Andrew Goldsworthy…on the tattoo side Ed Hardy, Eddy Deutsche, Tim Lehi, Jef Whitehead, Jeff Rassier, Chris O’Donnell, Thomas Hooper, Chad Koeplinger, Regino Gonzalez, Kaz, Horizakura,Chris Garver, Mike Rubendall, Grez, a million more…

Q 5 || Do you ever go through “writer’s block” and how do you move past it?

Absolutely, I think everyone does. One of the most important things I’ve learned over the years is that, at least for me, art and creativity is not like a faucet. Sometimes you turn on the tap and there’s just nothing coming out. The best thing I can do in those situations is to walk away and come back to it the next day. If I try to beat something into submission, it never works out very well.

Q 6 || With tattooing you are usually given some sort of starting point by the client. Now that you have complete freedom to draw whatever you wish is there a difference in approach?

With my own stuff, it’s easy since I can just follow the ideas that come along but I do a lot of commissioned paintings too, which are pretty much like tattooing. Someone makes a specific request for the look or subject and I try to do the best job I can with it.

Q 7 || Lastly just wondering if there are any upcoming projects? What is the best site/social for people to check out your work?

Tons of new projects, always! I’ve done two really large-scale, highly detailed watercolor paintings that each took over a year to complete and I’m about to start a third one of those in August. I’m almost done working on the first lithograph I ever did, which will be available soon through Raking Light Projects. I’m working on some new shirt designs for Holy Mountain Printing and Shirts & Destroy. Also this past year I had four custom leather jackets made by a really talented seamstress from Virginia and I’m going to be doing some paintings on the backs of the jackets, those will hopefully be done in the fall and will probably be shown somewhere or put up for sale as wearable art. And of course, lots more painting and tattooing! I’ll be tattooing on the road a bit more too so look for me in your zip code! All the new originals paintings and prints are available at www.threehourspastmidnight.bigcartel.com and you can find me on Instagram at @timothyhoyer …Art is my life and I’m so grateful to all the amazing people who have supported and helped me over the years, and continue to do so. And thanks to Highlark!


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