We had the good fortune of connecting with Tim Spanjer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tim, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Humans are born creatives, and I am just an artist in my time doing what the Creator has created me to do. In that way the creative space was always a foregone conclusion for me. As an artist, designer, and actor, I find fulfillment in getting a response from people when they see my art, read something I have written, or see me on stage or in a re-run of a primetime drama series.
Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about.
I use recognizable subject matter, sometimes vintage subjects, to tell stories. We all have memories of something that we were very in to, that is now forgotten or changed forever, never to return. My art connects the current age with those things in a way that they maybe have not been seen before but still remain true to the original form. On the surface, these works may seem simplistic. I love the separation of space and lines and shapes, which is why my art is graphic in nature with hard lines, bold shapes, and few gradients. But my works actually contain deeper levels of meaning. For example, one of my most popular works, “It Isn’t Fun Anymore” is a painting of a paper airplane crashing into the frame of the painting and falling to the ground. The title seems to describe an emotional response to what is actually being depicted, but that one line is loaded. The idea came to me as an adaptation from one of my favorite short stories by Ernest Hemingway, “The End of Something.” The story follows two characters, Nick and Marjorie, as they go through a seemingly cruel break up, and Nick’s line to Marjorie is, “It isn’t fun anymore.” A paper airplane, folded together so easily and flying along so gracefully, hits a wall and instantly changes the entire course of the story. Most of the time these stories are not revealed. I’d rather have the viewers find that out on their own, or even interpret the art in way that means something completely different to them. Isn’t that what art should do?
How did you get to where you are today professionally? Was it easy?
After college with a degree in graphic design I found myself in New York City pursuing the dramatic arts. I worked on stage and in front of the camera for 10 years as a member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), now SAG/AFTRA. I wanted to be back in design and graphics and took a job with Pfizer/Eyetech in Times Square as a graphic designer in the marketing department, and from there my creative journey led me to take a position as the Marketing Director for a national bridal jewelry manufacturer, RITANI. I found very quickly that applying my years of creative work and study made me an effective marketing person and so I turned my energy toward making a career using graphic design and creative thinking to solve marketing problems. Marketing is the ultimate platform for creative arts and communication because even as artists we are essentially marketers. We create a product (art) and in most cases we attempt to bring that product to market. Seeing people get excited about that product brings joy and excitement. It’s satisfying to see people respond positively to a marketing effort that I have undertaken. Today I’m Marketing Director of Pursell Farms, an extraordinary destination resort located about an hour from Birmingham, Alabama. I put my design skills and creative thinking to work every day. My interest in and love for marketing has been a great tool for me when, in a dual career path, I took again to the paints and began building up my catalog of handmade pop art pieces.
If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way?
My creative career has taken so many twists and turns that I am surprised at times that I have arrived in this place in my artistic life. Growing up on a farm and taking odd jobs early in life equipped me with a strong problem-solving skill set. Initially the cost of art supplies was a challenge. I decided not to use traditional art stores for my supplies, materials, and canvases, and instead built my own canvases and used the paints from the more mundane industrial jobs I performed.
What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I believe art should say something bold about who you are. I call my work “Fine Art Done Boldly.” My works are handmade, original, and entirely fabricated by me in my studio. I build and prepare my painting surfaces before beginning to paint. I go into a great deal of detail about this on my web site.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We’d definitely devote the week to Pursell Farms, the 3,200-acre destination resort that inspires me as a marketer and an artist in my role as Marketing Director there. Most of our time would be spent outdoors enjoying the resort’s wide open spaces. These activities would be at the top of our list: We’d play a round at FarmLinks, the resort’s 18-hole, 7,444-yard Hurdzan-Fry designed course ranked the No. 1 all-access golf course in Alabama for eight years by Golfweek Magazine. Its diverse layout, dramatic elevation changes, and superb vistas of mountains, lakes, and woodlands are beautiful every season. After golf that evening, we’d hang out at Old Tom’s Pub, a casual restaurant with a sports bar vibe, and maybe enjoy a craft beer or whiskey. Of course, we’d play the vintage pool table donated by the Pursell family’s longtime family friend, the late Jim Nabors (A.K.A. Gomer Pyle), and take a look at the photo wall of Hollywood celebrities who played pool at Mr. Nabors’ Bel Air home: President Ronald Reagan, Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Burt Reynolds, Dolly Parton, Dean Martin, Jackson Five, among others. We’d start the next day driving Gator utility terrain vehicles across rustic trails and traversing old logging roads to the top of the mountain for sunrise panoramic views of the lake, valleys, and mountain beyond. One day would be dedicated to the Orvis Shooting Grounds at Pursell Farms—the only one in the South staffed entirely with Orvis professionals and wholly operated by Orvis. The sporting clays course is set amid rolling fields and a natural canopy of hardwoods. That evening, we’d have dinner outside on the Arrington Vista, enjoying the resort’s signature cuisine, then move to the firepit under millions of stars, to unwind from the day.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
As a child I was attracted to art, and always looked for ways to be creative, from drawing and doodling to painting Disney characters and even studying origami. My parents and friends encouraged me to pursue art more formally. I took a drawing class in college and loved it, and my desire to express myself took on other dimensions, such as literature and poetry. Today, 30 years later, I have six or so, not so short, poems still committed to memory from freshman English. During my years as an actor in New York, I rediscovered my love for art and design while in-between jobs and auditions, spending hours in Manhattan’s great museums: the Guggenheim, MET and MOMA.