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Make It Anywhere: Timothy Goodman

By Charles Purdy

The spark of creative inspiration can’t be scheduled. There’s no telling where you’ll be when it ignites. That’s why New York–based designer, illustrator, and art director Timothy Goodman is starting to incorporate Adobe Shape CC into his daily creative life—so he can capture, edit, and create, no matter where he is when an idea catches fire. 

Timothy Goodman’s portfolio includes work for Airbnb, Google, Ford, J.Crew, the New Yorker, and the New York Times, among many other major clients. He has worked in-house for Apple and received awards from major design publications. And in addition to his professional work, he’s earning worldwide attention for his personal projects, such as his Instagram writing series Memories of a Girl I Never Knew and 40 Days of Dating, a project he co-created with Jessica Walsh.

But despite this impressive resume, he’s always eager to try out new tools and explore new media. For Goodman, it’s important to stay open to creative ideas, however they arrive. “If you’re not constantly learning from someone, then there’s no point,” he says. “I tell my students to approach graphic design as a practice, not as a profession. There are no rules. If you want to write, then write. If you want to draw, then draw. If you want to make something weird, then make it.”

And if you want to change your look, change your tool: This advice, which Goodman received from a design teacher early in his education, is central to his creative approach. That’s why he’s excited about Adobe Shape CC, which lets you capture shapes with your iPhone or iPad, easily save them as vectors right to your Creative Cloud Library, and use them throughout your Adobe apps. (See how, in this step-by-step tutorial Timothy made for us.)

Designer Timothy Goodman uses Shape and Illustrator to create a hand-lettered poster.
Designer Timothy Goodman holds up a hand-lettered poster that says Want To Change Your Look Change Your Tool

THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME

Goodman describes his preferred working environment as “controlled chaos.” He feeds off of other people’s energy, and that’s one of the reasons he loves living in New York City. “I get off on what other creative people are doing around me while I’m working,” he says—and that means he’s often working outside his studio.

He does a lot of sketching and concepting at coffee shops and bookstores (and bars, he adds). But everything he makes, whether it’s hand-drawn or not, goes through a digital process. So Shape is having a huge impact on his workflow.

“I dig Shape because it allows me to skip all those intermediate stages, like scanning, cleaning up in Photoshop, and converting to vector. Now, I can sketch something out, take a photo in Shape, and instantly access it in Illustrator. It makes the process so much more effortless and enjoyable.” 

DRAWING ON PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

Social media and the Internet are also big parts of Goodman’s artistic process. Without them, he says, 40 Days of Dating couldn’t have existed—the same goes for his recent Valentine Tweet Marathon project and other projects. His Memories series was made specifically to have a home on Instagram.

This extremely personal work provides a valuable creative outlet.

“Only in the last three and a half years, since I started working for myself, have I really been able to dive into personal projects,” he says. “Obviously, my creative partnership with Jessica is very important to me, and we’re in the middle of our third personal project together. She has inevitably influenced the way I go about things, as we both bring different skills, interests, and outlooks to the table.”

Goodman has many creative irons in the fire—his personal projects, the projects he collaborates on with Walsh, his professional branding work, more than 150 editorial illustrations and book jackets (at last count), and projects involving his distinctive hand lettering, which he is hired to do more and more frequently. Each project starts with an idea. “I want the idea to dictate the style,” he says. “Everything I’ve ever done starts as a small doodle in my notebook. Even if I’m working on a mural, I do sketches by hand first, scan the sketch in, digitally manipulate it, print it, and then redraw it—so Shape is perfect for me.”

(Learn how Timothy Goodman uses Adobe Shape and Adobe Illustrator to turn a sketch into a digital poster, in this easy-to-follow tutorial.)