Backlog: Interview With Tim Hoyt

I spoke with Tim a few months ago about his time in Berlin, his love of narrative, and what it’s like dating a fellow artist.Palm Reader 2Tim Hoyt creates paintings that take the viewer into new worlds. As a graduate of  The American University in Washington, D.C. his skills in painting, especially his notable foreshortening and use of color, are impressive. Hoyt lives in New York but has participated in gallery shows in both coasts.

I wanted to ask you how mythology factors into your art.

Okay, so when I was in grad school I became really interested in narrative and narrative through imagery specifically. My work went down an autobiographical path and I became really interested in not like specific myths or stories but this kind of openness that myth creates. And I read a lot of Carl Jung and about like the collective unconscious and was really interested in how myth is connected throughout different places in the world during different times and so on.

And then last summer I did a residency in upstate New York and got to work with Kyle Staver. She was a huge influence. And so after that I was just kind of playing around and letting what she taught me and talked to me about kinda marinate. So I was painting specific imagery from myths just as practice but it felt very closed off because I felt like I was just doing versions of one thing and the paintings couldn’t really like expand beyond that.

But I enjoyed telling stories that way. So what I’m trying to do now is use those tropes but not tie them to specific myths or stories. But kind of allude to, you know, the contemporary world through the lens of fantasy and mythology.Fortune Teller jpeg

So, does that factor in with why you chose oil and canvas for your paintings?

Right, yeah it’s definitely within the canon of going back through art history and mythological painting and stuff.

Um, it doesn’t really, it’s just always what I’ve used. I went to undergrad and majored in painting then went to grad school and majored in painting as well. The work I was doing when I first started painting had nothing to do with mythology. They both just kind of came together.

Now that you’re not in school do you read a lot or do you take in a lot of other media?

So that’s also sort of why I diverged from painting specific mythology because I’m not an expert on mythology. I’ve read some Joseph Campbell, I’ve read a little bit of Carl Jung like I’ve said. But I’m far from an expert on Greek or Roman classical mythology, so I don’t wanna pretend to be one and paint those things. As far as other media goes I love movies, that kind of way of storytelling has always kind of connected with me. So I guess the image as a mode of storytelling has always resonated with me a lot stronger than like writing or reading or anything.

Where are you from and how do you think environment affects you?

So I grew up right outside of New York in northern New Jersey. Basically like five minutes from the George Washington Bridge, so basically a suburb of New York. Growing up I would be constantly in and out of the city and go to the Natural History Museum a lot and the Metropolitan Museum of Art a lot. I feel like I was exposed at a young age to a lot of art and a lot of creative culture. So it’s always been around me, it was always just in my face and in my life. I like traveled a lot, been to Europe a bunch of times before the age of like fifteen and saw a lot of museums and a lot of art over there. So it was always kind of in the back of my mind and then I went to school in Pennsylvania and didn’t really know what I wanted to do, I was kind of just feeling it out. I went in undecided and was still undecided at the end of my sophomore year and they were like “ alright, you need to choose something.” And because I had been drawing my whole life and taking art classes I majored in art. And ended up really loving it and bonding really well with a couple of my professors. So that’s where I like really kind of gained a work ethic and started taking it seriously. And then came home for a couple years, kept painting, but didn’t really know how to pursue an art career or anything like that but still kept at it pretty seriously. And then I guess grad school is where post-grad life comes into view. You kind of know what’s at stake and you know that like it’s… unless you’re gonna get a PHD, which not a lot of artists do, this is the last line of education and resources for a while that that you’re gonna get. So I feel like it wasn’t really until grad school that I really understood how to dedicate all my energy to actually making a career out of art.

How did you figure out how to market and get into art shows?

So, marketing I’m terrible at, just don’t get it. I use Instagram and my website. But actually Instagram has been extremely helpful, that’s how I got the L.A. show at Zero Zero. Before that my girlfriend also got a show through Instagram in L.A. with this guy Jason Revok. I go to a lot of openings and talk to a lot of artists and they all say the same thing, that like Instagram is the new frontier of artists connecting with each other. So that has been a huge benefit of like social media.

So how does dating another artist affect your artwork and your life?

So I’ve dated artists and I’ve dated non-artists and I think that I much prefer dating an artist because I mean living in New York… you have to dedicate so much of your time to working and being in the studio and just like pushing. And when you’re not doing that you’re out at openings, out at other art social functions or whatever. And to have someone that’s doing the same thing and wants to do those same things and go to those places with you makes it so much easier. And also so much of being an artist is networking and getting to know people and making connections that way. And to have another person who’s also in that web and meeting people just makes everything so much easier and you can like help each other. On another smaller scale just having somebody to talk to about your work that kind of knows the lingo and has similar ideas about work… I don’t know, I like it a lot better.

You grew up near New York but did you always know you wanted to live there? How is this whole experience, living everyone’s dream?

It’s very cliche’ haha. Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, had I not grown up right outside New York I don’t know if I would’ve wanted to live here. I’ve lived in Pennsylvania, I’ve lived in D.C. but those are the only two places I’ve ever spent an extended period of time in. Like when I went to L.A. that was the first time I’d been to the west coast. So it’s not that I would be against living in other places but I just haven’t been to another place yet that I would rather live. And there are pros and cons to living in New York because there are a million artists, everybody’s trying to be an artist so it’s very saturated. There’s so much competition but at the same time you meet so many people who can help you or you can help them. And you build out your own little community and you know, depending on like how you play the game it can either be great or it can be terrible. But I feel like you can always, because there are so many people, you can find your little niche and your little group of people that think in a very similar way or make similar work or are interested in the same kind of things that you might not find (in other places). D.C. for instance is a very small art community, I mean it’s where I went to grad school but I didn’t like a lot of the work that was going on there. So yeah, I love living in New York. I’ve only been here, actually living in the city, for maybe like a year and a half. So far it’s great.

Where did you go to school in Pennsylvania and what was it like?

So I went to Penn State for undergrad and like I said I just went there because it seemed like it could be kind of typical college experience and I didn’t know what I wanted to do, um… and I got in. I went there and it ended up being a really good environment for someone who didn’t know they wanted to major in art. And it was a good introduction to what that meant, how to like kind of approach that major. Cause it’s, as like an art student there you’re very much isolated from the rest of the school because it’s a huge football school and there are like 40,000 students there.

Right, and the whole town is all about Penn State.

I have very mixed feelings about Penn State. But I ended up really enjoying it. Actually one of my professors went on sabbatical and a Penn State alum came and covered for them that year. He now teaches there full time but his name’s Brian Alfred and he’s like a practicing New York artist. He kind of splits his time between Penn State and New York and he was a huge influence. He brought some energy into the program that it was really lacking. So I really lucked out, I ended up enjoying my time there a lot.

What’s the art scene like out there, I imagine there isn’t one.

Yeah, Penn State… there’s no art. There’s like the school and there’s like the you know art program but there’s no real… they have a nice museum actually. But as far as like galleries or any kind of like art functions or anything it’s just what the school generates so there’s not a whole lot going on.Bad Deal

I heard you did something in Berlin?

Oh yeah! So that was the nice thing about D.C. was like between my first and second year, they have like a study abroad program in Berlin cause one of the professors there has lived in Berlin for a good portion of his life and has a wife there and a kid there. So he splits his time between the United States and Berlin and he started a six week summer program. And that was awesome! It’s kinda weird because like Berlin is like such a young city because the Berlin Wall came down I don’t know, 1989, so twenty-eight years ago. So all of a sudden it’s like this cultural explosion, it’s like mayhem over there. But because that happened so quick, it was like a flare-up, all the artists that we visited in their studios were like “the fact that you guys are here means Berlin’s over.” Like that no one should go there anymore because it’s so saturated, so expensive, blah blah blah. There’s also like very little of a market in Berlin, there’s a lot of great museums but as far as emerging artists or mid-career artists there’s nowhere to show there. That was kind of surprising, because you hear so much about it then you go there they’re like ‘no, don’t, stop.’ It’s like a little disappointing but the trip itself was really fun.

Tim’s work can be found at or on his Instagram @timboslicebo

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