Timothy Goodman Finds Meaning in Words and More Words

With more than 180,000 followers on Instagram, typography artist—and artist with a capital A—Timothy Goodman, clearly knows what he’s talking about. His art and words have adorned anything from walls, buildings and packaging to cars, people, shoes, and galleries all over the world.

But whether it’s a large-scale public mural on the streets of NYC, a marker scrawling on a Uniqlo t-shirt, or writing personal stories on Instagram, Goodman hopes that his work is a catalyzer for dialogues about difficult topics such as love, heartbreak, politics, race, therapy, and mental health.

“A lot of designers try to impress other designers with the obscure stuff,” he remarked once in an interview with Magenta. “I think maybe early on I thought that was cool, but I no longer find that interesting or compelling. I want to make work that resonates with a lot of people,” he stressed, adding that it’s important to consider who you’re making your work for. “Are you making it for other designers, or are you making it for people in the world?” asks Goodman.

But with clients that include giants like Google, Samsung, Uniqlo, MoMA, Airbnb, Netflix, The New Yorker, and The New York Times, Goodman might be speaking to both high brow and low brow crowds. Believing that the greatest joy as a designer and an artist is the ability to connect to another human emotionally through his work and words, he treats design as a practice rather than a profession.

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I love you, NY. I’m celebrating my 16 year anniversary this week, and I’ve been feeling tender about it lately. Many people I know—friends and old friends alike—have left NYC because of Covid. Now, I would never criticize anyone who can no longer afford to live in an expensive city like NYC because of a pandemic! However, many folks who are VERY successful have decided to leave NYC and call it “dead” because 50% of our restaurants are closed or they can no longer go to their fancy events. That rubs me the wrong way. Their relationship to this city has always been one-sided: they suck all the resources out of it, and then when it hits hard times, they leave for the beach and call it “dead.” Listen, I get that we pay high rent for small apartments and ridiculous city tax, and in return we are supposed to get a unique way of life that may be gone for now. However, this city is so much more than something to consume: it’s a living, breathing organism that you can HELP. It has its own people, cultures, economy, and special way of living that gave many of us careers—but more than that, it gave us a point of view, a place to fit in, and a way of life that we once yearned for. So, this is my community and I feel a real sense of responsibility to stay here, to spend my money here, to invest my own talents and resources back into. It’s called loyalty. I’m proud to be a New Yorker, even more so in times like this. ❤️

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“I work all the time, but it feels normal,” he says. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. I hate those quotes about loving what you do, but it’s true. When you’re stimulated by your work and you’re running a business for yourself, it doesn’t really feel like work; you’re just doing it.” Words to live by.