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Tim Goschnick is a Melbourne-based artist whose work flips the script on the tired dystopian science fiction trope, instead daring to imagine a brighter future in the form of utopian dream-worlds rendered in gorgeously oversaturated colours. Tim combines his fascination with retro psychedelic art by infusing vivid colour, abstract patterns and warping, liquid visuals into his work, creating an energetically charged and visually stimulating viewing experience. Tim's formal background lies in video game design and animation, leaving him well placed for designing the detailed and richly imagined fantasy worlds depicted in his illustrations.
Tim's work is so gloriously unique and unlike anything else we've seen come through Image Science, so we were keen to pick his brain and learn more about the ideas and processes behind his work. Tim is also expanding his creative business and has just opened up a print shop on his website, so support him if you can by buying a fine art inkjet print from his store!
Tell us about yourself and how you first got started as an artist and designer. Have you always followed a creative path?
I got into drawing as a sensitive and shy kid. It was a way of getting lost in imaginary worlds and it also became an escape from social pressures as I got older. I was the kid who draws. I studied video games and animation at university but quickly found myself doubling down on illustration and art afterwards. I think I wanted to develop my own style, and without a clear idea of what I wanted to do, working on large projects with other people seemed like I was getting ahead of myself. I think of that time now as a bit of a diversion from what I'd always done, drawing.
People always bring up this quote about sci-fi, that it's more about the present than the future. There is of course a lot of truth to this, but I think that science fiction's power as a collective way of navigating toward possible futures is downplayed and underutilized.- Tim Goschnick
Science fiction seems to be a major theme that is revisited in your work. What aspect of the science fiction genre appeals to you the most? Are you inspired by any science fiction artists in particular?
80's and 90's sci-fi anime has had a huge influence on the way I learnt to draw. Movies like Akira and Nausicaä. Also comic book artists like Moebius and Jack Kirby. Kilian Eng and Jess Johnson also come to mind as being big inspirations. The dark realism of a lot of recent sci-fi puts me off but I do love watching for costume, character and set designs. These elements are what I'm interested in over plot: the feel of the world.
I also love utopian aspects of science fiction. The way it can situate the current moment and open up what is possible. People always bring up this quote about sci-fi, that it's more about the present than the future. There is of course a lot of truth to this, but I think that science fiction's power as a collective way of navigating toward possible futures is downplayed and underutilized. You need to imagine a future to get there and we aren't imagining anything good at the moment. It seems so naive, a positive future! But this is a thread I definitely want to pick up more and develop in my work. Imagining positive futures, or at least positive elements.
How would you describe your art style and what does it say about you?
I was struggling with this so I asked a friend and they said “Romantically apocalyptic futuristic daydreaming” and “visually intense but calm”. I'm not sure what this says, except that I need to make art as a way of processing the world.
The fantastically unique worlds in your work are so richly detailed and vividly imagined. How do you develop the fascinating characters and stories you create? Do you plan to develop them further? Your work would be fantastic in a graphic novel format.
People keep telling me this! I do love the mysteriousness of individual images. A scene with no context. And narrative is not something that comes easily to me. But that being said I would love to make a comic at some point. The challenge would be to maintain the mystery throughout - I like stories that move forward on dream logic. Mood-pieces, fever-dreams. Also comics are just really hard to make. Sometimes an image will just jump into my head, or I'll try to capture the feel of a dream but often it's a process of playing around with imagery, either that I've made or found, until a story forms. I have a big light-box that I shuffle sketches and bits and pieces around on, the pictures all overlap and mingle in interesting ways. That's one technique anyway.
Talk us through your creative process. You seem to effortlessly work between a variety of mediums and techniques which is testament to your ability to consistently experiment and develop as an artist. How has your process developed over the years? Is it always evolving, or have you found a dependable method that really works?
At one time, after going through a phase of trying many new things I found myself floundering between mediums and stylistic directions, like I was opening hundreds of doors but never going through any. A paralysis from too many options and the pressure to be unique. I decided to pick line drawings with digital colour as a practicality that would allow me to make work easily without thinking about how. I could just think of the content. I don't stick to that medium entirely anymore but it really helped me focus and develop ideas.
Sometimes I have a clear goal and I plan it all out methodically but other times I start by just scribbling as I watch tv or listen to audiobooks. I find I need techniques like this, using low quality paper is another one, to take the pressure off. Sometimes the magic happens when you're not trying. I then sort of collage these sketches together, trying to find connections, stories, interesting contrasts, and once a larger idea forms I draw a final image in fine-liners and ink. I then scan the image and add colours digitally, the most fun part! I can take days deciding on colour schemes.
The richly saturated, acid-rainbow colour palette, warping visuals and surrealistic subject matter in your work are also defining characteristics of psychedelic art. Originally it was a visual exploration of the sensory and spiritual experiences attained by hallucinogens, but it was also a symbol of a counterculture in rebellion against societal norms and traditional art practices. These days it’s seen as delightfully retro and kitsch. What is it about psychedelic art that draws you to reference it in your work?
There's something so compelling about the interplay between patterns, bright colours and figures in psychedelic work. The way the colours flatten the image, pulling figures closer to abstraction, disorienting the way the eye reads an image. I love pictures with all of this going on: ocular overload, overstimulation.
I also love that a lot of these works were posters and zines or band merch. Mass produced and accessible. I'm interested in the countercultural aspect as much as the aesthetics, if these things can even be separated. I don't think of it as nostalgia or retro, but a real current that runs through our culture. I guess this ties back to sci-fi and imagining better worlds. I hope I am drawing from traditions and moving it forward and not just imitating. It's like how the 60's psychedelic artists took from Art Nouveau before it. I love these movements that favour sensory richness over conceptual cleverness, romanticism over rational modernity, profuse decoration over utilitarian minimalism.
Eduardo Paolozzi and Tadanori Yokoo are two artists whose work from the 60's I keep coming back to and who have influenced my use of colour and composition the most. Surrealistic collage-like works that are just so freeing and full of energy.
What is the best way interested buyers can purchase your work? Do you have a dedicated platform where people can purchase limited edition prints and originals?
Yes I've actually just opened a web shop selling prints this week at timgoschnick.bigcartel.com. I have some prints already up for sale and I'll be adding more in the coming months.
I was fascinated to learn you are also a musician. The music you make is not unlike your art; sensory, experimental and surreal. Does music still play a part in your creative practice? If so, how does it influence you?
I make music often, I flip between the two. Visual art for me takes more patience and focus. Making music is more immediate and emotionally cathartic, a way of dealing with overwhelming emotions. But also something that's just fun to do. I can notice certain tendencies in both: to fill all space with details, a focus on interplay between structure and chaos and a certain kind of miniaturization. It all comes from the same place but the two don't really mix or influence each other, at least not in a conscious way.
Who or what has been your biggest inspiration as an artist?
I'm sorry, this is too hard! I'm a bit of a bowerbird, taking little pieces from all over the place.
What’s next on the cards for your art practice? Do you have any exciting projects or exhibitions in the works?
I am working on finishing some larger pictures that have been floating around for a long time, designing some wine labels and trying to finish an album's worth of music. After that I guess I'd better get started on that graphic novel!