Tim McDonagh

Tim spent his younger years growing up in a rural part of America, surrounded by rattlesnakes and snapping turtles which in turn led to his fascination of animals. He takes a more traditional approach to illustration using brush and indian ink to draw the image and then applying limited colour palettes digitally. As an illustrator Tim also values detail, which is evident through the meticulous line work. He also loves to draw grass.

We sat down with Tim and asked him a few questions about his new piece for Skull & Heart, the incredibly detailed ‘Dont Feed The Birds‘ and his time working as an illustrator.

Q: Hi Tim! how are you?

A: Very well, ta.

Q: Firstly, we’d just like to thank you for creating such a super piece for us, we’re huge fans of your work here at S&H so we’re so excited to have this beauty printed and on sale!

A: No problem, it was a real pleasure to draw out and I was flattered to have been asked.

Q: And how did you start out in the industry? was it a smooth start?

A: I was ready for it to be really really tough leaving university but I was luckier than most I think and have managed to go freelance straight from University. I won the D&AD new blood the year I left and from that I was signed up to Handsome Frank illustration agency. It all snowballed quite quickly really and I’ve been drawing here at this desk for money ever since.

Q: Take us through a typical day for you. is it all work, or do you like to break it up with other things throughout the day?

A: Well i’ll get up about 8 and put on a coffee whilst doing the internet rounds (reddit, ign, omgposters, ffffound, facebook, itsnicethat etc etc). Then i’ll settle down to drawing whatever I put down the night before. I’ll take a break for something to eat around midday then carry on drawing until my girlfriend comes home at around 6-7. I might throw a game of battlefield 3 in there somewhere throughout the day.

Q: Talk us through a typical creation then, how do you go about your work?

A: I’ll start of pencilling some thumbnails, sometimes just for myself and sometimes for the client to see depending on the job. Once one of those has been decided on I’ll start pencilling a more detailed version out full size. After that’s been approved and any changes have been made i’ll ink straight over that and rub out any remaining pencil marks. The inks are then scanned in to my computer and coloured digitally. I recently made a blog post about my work process and how I went about creating this piece.

Q: You’re known for creating very beautiful and intricate images, often incorporating nature or animals, how do you come about creating these images? where do you even begin?

A: I’m really not sure, I guess I just ask myself what I would like to see if it was me. Sometimes I think about my favourite artists or illustrators and try to imagine the sort of piece i’d like to see from them and work off of that kind of idea.

Q: What are your Inspirations, what do you often look to when feeling a little drained of ideas?

A: The natural world is a pretty good place to start, I like broken objects and decay amongst that too. If I were to throw out some names that got me interested in illustration I’d say Daniel Clowes, Adrian Tomine, Charles Burns, Aaron Horkey, Dan McCarthy, Mike Giant, Matthew Woodson. They are all fairly big names and great examples of what illustration can be.

Q: Tell us about the piece you did for Skull & Heart.

A: I like the thought of alot of chaos in an image and is something i’m trying to incorporate more into my work. That and movement. My work always feels quite static to me so i’m trying to work on pieces that convey that a little more. Birds flying around a big ol’ birdcage with a baby owl in seemed like a cool idea to me.

Q: Can you tell us about any future projects in the works?

A: I’m working on a series of skate/longboards for a skate company in America plus a project for Nike at the moment. I can’t really say much more but they will be up on my blog when I’m allowed to show.

Q: And of course, Skulls or Hearts?

A: Tricky one, I think i’ll say hearts.


All available artwork from Tim McDonagh is available to purchase in our online store. Please click the images below to be directed to the item you are interested in.