Unrestricted by the genre of fine art, Tim Biskup’s pop-inspired paintings and prints represent just one facet of this modern day Renaissance man. Breaking into the art world later in his career, Biskup worked for many years as an animator, and continues to dabble in alternative creative outlets.
What was your first memory or experience with art?
I remember drawing Frankenstein and Dracula on the floor with my older brother. We worked out the best way to draw them together. Also, hot rods, “Big Daddy” Roth style.
The best training I can imagine is six years of painting and drawing every day under heavy scrutiny. It was brutal at times, but it gave me skills.
Who or what made you realize you wanted to become an artist?
I always had the general idea that I wanted to be an artist, but when I saw my first Robert Matta painting in person at the age of 16 it changed my whole perspective. His world made sense to me; it still does.
How was life as an animator? Why did you choose to stop animating and pursue fine art instead?
It was a great experience working with such talented people. I always tell people that it was what I wanted (and didn’t get) from art school. The best training I can imagine is six years of painting and drawing every day under heavy scrutiny. It was brutal at times, but it gave me skills. It was always a means to an end. I left when I could afford to. I got so busy making paintings for galleries that I had to move on. I always go toward more freedom.
How did you your “bar auctions” come about?
I met some people that all went to Cal Arts together. They threw a party every year called Librafest. Part of the night was a live auction. They asked people to bring some art and just auctioned it off on the spot. It was simple, but really fun. I asked them if they minded me taking the idea and trying to do my own take on it. They signed off and I started doing Burning Brush auctions at a friend’s bar. From the very start it was a hit.
You are also a talented and successful musician. What do you feel is the relationship between music and fine art?
Music is another way that I process creative impulses. Some thoughts just seem like they need to be made into sound. I have always been more into the noisy and experimental side of music. I love playing with atmosphere and time. I play drums and used to play with bands a lot, but I’ve never trained myself the way that I have with visual art. I can’t imagine taking music as seriously as I take visual art. It’s always going to be something that I do as a hobby.
While in art school you were once told you would “never be taken seriously.” How did that statement affect you and your work?
It was crushing. It took me many years to feel like they might be wrong. I wanted to give up when I heard that. I still hear those voices in my head. The truth is that it is very, very hard to be taken seriously by the art world. They were just trying to save me some pain, I’m sure. At some point it became a motivating factor for me, though. I’m very determined to be taken seriously, but to not compromise my personal vision of what my art will be. It’s tricky and often confusing to deal with people’s ideas of what is good, bad, important, etc. If you can truly take yourself seriously you are most of the way there. That’s taken a long time and a lot of work.
How do you see your work fitting into art today?
I’m always trying to make sense out of that. The bottom line that I have come to is that it is not up to me to figure out how and where it will fit. I can only be in charge of making my work and making it as honest and good as I can. If I do it well it will end up in a good place.
Who or what are some of your biggest inspirations?
Matta, as I said before. He was a big one. He created a world in his work that felt alien and natural at the same time. I want to do the same thing. Lately, I’ve been looking at a lot of tribal masks and folk art, and I’m still reading about American history pretty regularly.
Whose art do you own?
Lots of Ryden, Kaws, Mary Blair. Some really nice mid-century paintings by people that never really hit it big. I’m always trading with friends. Just got a nice Cupco sculpture called Terry Richardson’s Flayed Head. Pretty self-explanatory.
What makes an artist successful?
People have to figure out what that means for themselves. For me it’s being true to my personal vision and making a living out of it. I’m always looking to balance those two factors.
What’s something you wish you knew back when you were first starting out?
I honestly think that I have learned things as I was ready to learn them. I needed to make certain mistakes in order to learn about myself and figure out how to get to what I want.
When you have an hour of free time, what do you usually do?
Hang out with my girlfriend and daughter, shop for records or play with my OP-1 (synthesizer).
What is something you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t done yet?
I honestly can’t think of anything. I’ll think of something, but right now I just wanna paint.