Art Director, Tim Probert talks about his art, influences, his animated short "Bea & Cad” and his work at Aardman Nathan Love…
3dtotal: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?
My name is Tim Probert. I'm an art director at Aardman Nathan Love
and a freelance illustrator living in New York City. I have illustrated middle grade novels for MacMillan and am currently working on a graphic novel for First Second Books.
The Rat Thief got the Wand of Wizards, but couldn't lose the lizards
3dt: You're Art Director at Aardman Nathan Love, tell us about your work there. What do you enjoy most about it?
I do a lot of drawing! We work on a lot of commercials for a variety of clients; though recently have been branching out into longer and more varied projects. During the pitch phase and preproduction I often design characters and environments, do storyboards and style frames - setting the overall look for spots. Once production starts, I work with the CG team as they translate everything into 3D, often painting on top of renders and drawing over animation to push poses or keep things on model.
This was a cover image for Bea & Cad
3dt: Who has had the biggest influence on your art?
There are almost too many artists to name whose work I love and admire. One of my most personal influences was a professor in college, Hal Reddicliffe. Not only did he teach me a ton of things I use to this day, he also helped whip my work ethic into shape and inspired me to be a better artist.
Another Bea & Cad image featuring some dragons and some jewels
3dt: How would you describe your art to someone who had never seen it?
I usually try to get a sense of wonder or peacefulness into my work. I generally use a pretty subdued color palette. There's often solitary figures, sweeping environments and lots of dramatic light. I like to draw trees and organic shapes and use very few straight lines.
A more recent Bea & Cad image, used to announce the graphic novel
3dt: What would you say is the most important part of creating art?
I would say focus. A lot of creating art is problem solving, and it's hard to do if you're not paying full attention. At least that's what I find for myself - when I'm working I have to give it all I've got. And try to enjoy it! Making art is fun.
One more from Bea & Cad, just a relaxing day on the open sea
3dt: What tools do you use to create your art? What would you like learn in the future?
and a Wacom Cintiq. When working on paper I usually use Prismacolor Col-Erase pencils or whatever is lying around. I make a lot of textures with ink and gouache that I scan in and use when I'm working digitally. As far as learning, I'd love to try those Nicker poster paints that Studio Ghibli uses for their background paintings.
This was done for an internal project at Aardman Nathan Love. He's a strange alien creature made of meat
3dt: If you had no limit on time or resources, what project would you work on?
With all the time in the world, I would love to make a feature length 2D animated movie - either an original story or adapting something. I've always thought the Silmarillion would work well as animated film and you could use the format to really push the fantastical and mythic feel of the story.
A style frame from a pitch done at Aardman Nathan Love. The project didn't work out, but I always liked this one
3dt: Which piece of work are you most proud of?
I've been working on this thing called Bea and Cad. It's a fantasy adventure story and was originally being developed as an animated show. At Aardman Nathan Love, we pitched it to Nickelodeon and ended up producing a proof of concept short
with the help of Studio La Cachette
of Paris. Though it's not going forward as an animated show, I'm super proud of that short. And I'm now making it as a graphic novel with First Second Books, which is very exciting.
Another style frame, this one for trailer we made announcing the joining of Nathan Love and Aardman. It featured these face dudes called ‘The Worshippers' in an inky black world
3dt: What advice would you give to someone just starting out in this industry?
Work hard, practice every day and don't give up! Hard work, a good attitude and being professional are some of the most important qualities for getting and keeping jobs in the industry and will go a long way toward making you a better artist.
A book cover for the Rip & Red series, done for Farrar, Straus & Giroux
3dt: If you weren't a professional artist what do you think you'd be doing for a living?
I'd probably be a paleontologist, digging up dinosaur bones somewhere in the Badlands or Mongolia. Or maybe a shepherd, probably in Scotland.
Another book cover, this one for a reissue of Lois Lowry's ‘Just the Tates' series
3dt: What can we expect to see from you and Aardman Nathan Love next? Any cool projects we should look out for?
Yes! At Aardman Nathan Love, we have some very cool stuff going on involving some fun characters, but I can't talk about it quite yet. Keep an eye out this fall for some exciting things from us! As far as myself, I am currently working on my first Bea & Cad
book, which should be out in 2020, though I'm posting updates on my Instagram as I go.
Just a ghost, some butterflies and a bird, having a little sit.
Tim Probert's website is full of cool characters, awesome scenes and other beautiful illustration…
Follow Tim on Instagram
You can buy prints of Tim's fabulous work on his INPRNT store…
Check out Aardman Nathan Love, they have some weird and wonderful stuff…
Watch Tim's animated short "Bea & Cad” on YouTube