art:. Timothy Shaw, Craving Coffee

sip, listen, draw

Who would have thought, that an illustrator living above a coffee shop would one day end up exhibiting in one? Such became the truth for an artist who fathomed, that exhibiting in a coffee shop was possible upon seeing a tweet about an art show happening at Craving Coffee. The rest is modern history. Meet Timothy Shaw and the shapes that found a place beyond in the real coffee world.

c.: May we start with what was for coffee this morning?

Timothy Shaw: This morning I had a filter coffee from Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia. Ethiopian Coffees are my favourite, I love the funky fruitiness they give you. It was roasted by a great London roastery called Square Mile

c.: Can you share your relationship to Craving Coffee – where your art is exhibiting this month?

t.s.: I’ve known Matt the owner of Craving Coffee for a couple of years, we met through the specialty coffee industry in London. They’re doing some great stuff there, putting on lots of events and now beginning to have exhibitions as well so definitely keep an eye on them!

c.: How did an opportunity to show at Craving Coffee come about?

t.s.: I noticed the first exhibition they were hosting on twitter, I knew they had an awesome space, super high ceilings and white brick walls so I just got in touch with them and asked if I could get involved.

c.: I saw a tweet about your show which caused me to peer in more. I was really taken with your illustrations, their human and not so human characteristics as well as the play on shape. Can you share how you discovered your illustration style?

t.s.: Honestly I still feel like I’m developing my style, it needs a bit of fine tuning. I haven’t had any kind of training so I got to the point I’m at now by trial and error. I first stopped looking at other artists work entirely, I didn’t want to subconsciously take bits and pieces of other styles. Recently though I’ve been checking out art again, I just missed it too much!

c.: I can relate to “still being in development” in regards to style. I feel the same with my creative expressions. I have a friend who can’t walk into a museum for fear of someones ideas interacting with his own – a very sensitive space. I’m glad you’re back to recievvng art again – it’s really inspiring to do so – at least on my end. I’m curious, you work in the medium of black and white? Why?

t.s.: I work in black and white because I LOVE the way it pops of the paper. It’s always been such an attractive contrast to me so I just decided to go with it. Once I’m satisfied with my black and white work I’ll definitely change it up though, I have some paintings in the works now that are the total opposite, very brightly coloured and vibrant so keep an eye out.

c.: Oh, I will! And, I agree about the contrast of black and white – its like no other. Can you share a bit about your creative process.  For example, Are you an early riser and creating in the morning or later in the evening? Is coffee nearby? Do you listen to music? How many iterations will a drawing go through before you say ‘its done’?

t.s.: I work pretty slavishly for my art, get up early and go straight for the coffee. I live above a good coffee shop so that works well for me. While I’m working I really like to listen to podcasts, it’s a great way to absorb a heap of information while getting work done at the same time. If not a decent podcast then music works just as well.

I start a drawing with a very basic pencil sketch to get an idea of the shapes etc, not trying to get anything too perfect. Once the sketch is done I come in with a pen and do all of the outlines and after that move on to a fairly thin pen to fill in the shading. I’m a big fan of allowing things to change as I draw and not sticking religiously to the first idea I had, this works well for my style since most of my stuff is pretty surreal.

c.: Ah, the creative process always begs for us to allow it be what it will; I love that. What kind of paper do you work on? And, podcasts as a listening preference, do share some please?

t.s.: Generally, I choose a hot pressed paper of at least 150 gsm. I go for hot pressed so there isn’t much of a texture to interfere with the fine details of my work, I do love paper with a nice texture though. I like heavier weight papers because the ink doesn’t bleed through to the back and it just feels nicer to work on.

Yeah podcasts work great for me for a couple of reasons. It’s quite time consuming to fill in a lot of detail and can be very monotonous, I also get bored pretty easily so having something like a podcast to listen to definitely helps with that. Secondly I just love learning things and these days there are some seriously great podcasts around, it’s like school but fun. I’d recommend “The Joe Rogan Experience” for sure, it’s becoming very popular. Also “Tangentially Speaking”, “The Duncan Trussell Family Hour” and “London Real” are great.

c.: I can’t wait to check these out. Thanks for sharing, I’m sure readers will appreciate them too. When it comes to coffee shops curating art, many exhibitions are akin to the value of art in a museum. What do you think the value of art is to coffee shop culture?

t.s.: I think they go hand in hand, they’re perfect for each other. Specialty coffee shops tend to attract a type of person who appreciates art so it’s a big part of coffee culture. The people working in these shops are passionate about what they do and that brings about other passionate people. From the artists perspective this is great, coffee shops are one of the best places to exhibit because there are people in and out all day who will see your work.

c.: How does it feel knowing that as you’re exhibiting, people can consume not just a beverage but art as well?

t.s.: That’s one of the best parts about exhibiting in a coffee shop, the customers are more likely to allow themselves the time to appreciate and really get into your work. Plus they’ll be in a really good mood after their coffee!

You can see more of Mr. Shaw’s work here.