Of all the contributions to As You Were: Living Situations, Emily Timm’s stands out as one of the quirkiest, most straight-up fun ones; if you haven’t yet read it, let’s just say it involves a punk house on the moon and leave it at that.
We spoke with Timm, who is busy juggling playing in bands, making art, working part time, volunteering, and so much more to find out how she stays motivated, why she’s interested in Florida, and what we can expect from her in 2016. Keep reading to find out.
Tell us about yourself.
The good stuff: I live in Bloomington, Indiana, where rent is cheap and I can work part time and still have hours in the week left for what I love—that is, whatever creative project I’m currently working on. Recent past projects include finishing the first chapter of The Count of Florida, recording some new Ghost Mice songs, block printing Yule cards, painting murals on the walls of the new (kind of secret!) DIY venue in town… oh, and I sang in an X cover band on Halloween, which was super fun!
I also volunteer at the Midwest Pages to Prisoners Project and organize bi-monthly drawing clubs. If I’m not doing any of that stuff, I’m probably playing guitar in my room or cooking yummy vegan food with my partner, Nick.
How did you get involved in AYW?
The first time I was handed a copy of AYW I drank it in, finished it, started hastily googling artists from it that I liked, and searching for the next release! AYW is everything I’m looking for in a small-format comic—it was contemporary, it was punk, it had a bunch of different contributors, and it was packaged beautifully. So as you can imagine, when my friend Rick V., who is a past and current contributor, asked if I wanted to be a part of it, I jumped at the chance!
How did you first get into drawing / comics / art?
A few years ago, I started making comics because they struck me as a type of art/expression that is possibly the most approachable. I’m driven by some unknown force within me to make art, but to make isn’t enough. It’s vital that I connect with people, that I reach out and communicate, or else I might as well live in a studio apartment on the moon!
What is your process like?
Oftentimes it’s the loose doodles and the heartfelt scribbles that turn into something bigger—if something strikes me, I’ll write it in my journal. Then I’ll look back on it later and edit it (or not) and turn in into a more finished product.
On your website, you talk about how self-motivation is a struggle for you as an artist. How did you learn to motivate yourself?
Deadlines really get me motivated. Short-term ones are good too—for example, set a goal/intention for the day when you wake up and try to meet it. I read a book recently called “Daily Rituals” that describes the routines of a slew of different artists, philosophers, writers, etc. It highlighted to me the benefit of having a morning ritual—something you do that tells your body you’re about to get to work.
For me, I wake up, eat breakfast, get dressed, and make a cup of tea. This tells my body I’m ready. I’ve read that you should never sit down at the drawing table in your pajamas—that you should “dress for work,” even if it’s just you and your cat at home. The book also made it clear that most of the people in it only got 2-4 hours of real work done per day. Make your goals achievable, have a daily routine, and make sure you give yourself time to work—even if it means skipping a show or another social event.
Lately I’ve been trying something new, where I plan my leisure time and not my work time—for example, I’d give myself 20 minutes to go online, check my email and Facebook, or sit down and eat lunch and watch an episode of something. Then all of my unplanned time is for getting work done.
Routines help immensely because they set you up for success. When I’m feeling stuck, or feeling unhappy with something, I remind myself that I make things because it’s what brings me joy; it’s what feels important. That reminder is enough to knock me back onto the right track.
On the flipside, sometimes being an artist can be all-encompassing, especially when you’re in the thick of an idea or project. Do you have ways of making yourself take a break from your work or enforcing some sort of self care routine?
I’m still really bad at getting up and taking breaks—a tip for this that I’ve yet to try is clearing off your desk, and putting your water/coffee/snack/phone/whatever far enough away that you have to get up to reach it. That way, you’re forcing yourself to take a mini-break.
What is The Count of Florida?
Over the past few years that I’ve been in Ghost Mice, I think we’ve toured in Florida more than anywhere else. I also toured there when I was in Inky Skulls (my first band—dark ukulele pop) and a more short-lived pop-punk band I was in called Tooth Soup. That adds up to a lot of hanging out in Florida. Whenever I’m there, I’m aware of a certain duality—there’s all the allure of sunshine and orange groves and beaches, but on the fringes there’s a sense of something darker—maybe it’s all the Spanish moss, the swamps and gators, or the uniquely Floridian stories that come up in the news. I’d always find this combination intriguing, in a morose way. On our tours to Florida, I started making lists of funny things a vampire might encounter in Florida—how they might mesh in some ways but devastatingly clash in others. I’ve got quite a stock of silly vampire jokes that I’m looking forward to weaving into The Count of Florida.
What does 2016 look like for you in terms of creative things?
In 2016 I hope to make a lot more progress on The Count. I finished the first chapter as a January “fun-a-day” challenge where you’re supposed to work on something or make something every day. I didn’t meet that challenge per se, but it definitely motivated me! Now that I’ve got the ball rolling, I hope to have the first volume published by the end of the year, possibly by Secret Sailor Books.
I just enrolled in an online/weekly meet-up web design course through the Bloomington Code School(It’s free! Shoutout to the Monroe County Public Library). I’ve done book design and graphic design and I’m really excited to learn this new medium. And if I’m ever to become a self-employed graphic artist (which I’m planning on!), I think in this digital age, having web design in the bag is going to help.
I’ve also been dreaming of starting a new band for a while, and I’m hoping 2016 can be the jumping-off point for that, too.
If you had to choose one artistic piece of output of yours (comic or otherwise) that would be representative of who you are to show someone who is not familiar with your work, what would it be?
If I had to choose something to show someone who wasn’t familiar with my work, I think I’d show them the Los Gatos Negros comic. It’s my first published comic so it took me a long time; I was constantly making mistakes and learning from them. I’m happy with how the final product turned out, and I want to share it with people so they’ll hopefully go and listen to Los Gatos Negros, who are great!
Off the top of your head, who are some artists whose work you love that fans of your comics should check out?
I really like Lynda Barry, Ben Katchor, Daryl Seitchek, Ron Regé, Jr., Peninal Gal, Katie Skelly, Dave McKean, Eleanor Davis, Sam Alden… I read “Seconds” by Bryan Lee O’Malley a while ago and it was great!