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In Conversation With Tim Worton

In Conversation With Tim Worton

In our 15-year journey of artistic exploration, graphic tees and hoods have become the fabric of our identity. The recent design competition was more than a challenge; it was an opportunity to spotlight the incredible talents within our community. Thank you to everyone who participated.

We're excited to introduce our winner, Tim, with his design "I Tangle Well." Inspired by the twists of life, Tim's creation is a powerful symbol of resilience, born from the grind of daily life and a weekly sketching ritual.

Hey Tim, Tell us a bit about yourself and what made you decide to enter the competition.

I think what my old boss used to tell me gives a nice intro haha. He'd smile and say, "okay, okay, calm down young thundercat". As another intro attempt I'd say I'm someone who seeks the thrill of creative impulses, and laughing with interesting people.

For the competition, there's a backstory here. I've had a dream to create with ILU's for years, cause I'm such a fan of your laid armour ethos. I actually DM'd V with ideas three years ago and obvi he ignored me cause I'm nobody! haha. Since then I've been gunning for a chance to get his attention and the minute I saw the competition I said lessss gooo. So on that note I NEED to give an earth shaking shout out to everyone who supported me. Some profound tangles went down that competition week, but those stories are for another time.

Are you an artist by trade? Or is it more of a creative outlet of yours?

I build software demos full time as a solution engineer and design after hours. Doing both tests my relationship with time, but when it doesn’t blow up in my face, there’s a rewarding dynamic. They’re kinda like outlets for each other. Art 100% consoles me when being an SE is nightmarish, but when art becomes too consuming and I start to lose touch with what actually matters, I appreciate the “fall from heaven” when I have to wake up for my 9-5. It’s important to me to create while staying in touch with the reality most of us live in.

What does creativity mean to you?

It’s asking “what if” a lot. It’s figuring your way outside “herd-thinking”. It’s being okay with being wrong. It’s helping people unfold. It’s laughing to yourself as you play with ideas. It’s unplanned wisdom.It’s something you didn’t see yesterday. It’s Rosalía combining flamenco and jazz. It’s that Starbucks “Reconnect” print ad. It’s knowing how to do things in the “you-est” way of doing it.

Who or what are your design inspirations, either growing up or more recently that have led you to developing your style as a creative?

We gotta start with Jacquemus. The Le Coup De Soleil collection is my roman empire. The collection is a joyful window into Simon’s French childhood. Other than our “bad-man” sense of humour I don’t think I draw enough from my Jamaican roots, so I’d like to do that as well as Simon. And Duh! Big up to the KING, Valentin Ozich. His designs give me gusto. His stories of overcoming come through wicked in ILU’s copywriting and illustration. Now, most of my childhood I prayed to be Gotenks from Dragon Ball Z &/or Sokka from Avatar. In the prehistoric times when you couldn’t pause TV shows, I’d try my luck and stick paper over the TV screen to trace my anime heroes, so basically I’m hardwired to draw anime style.

I’m still learning my style, but at the moment I’d say it’s dark-humoured, playful and experimental. Illustrations with tension, sharp edges and stories behind them are my tea. I like concepts that you can tell have a raw human experience behind them. So on that note, I need to spotlight that my biggest design inspirations come from the rawness I witness in my everyday friends. Josh Browne, my solution engineer mentor inspires me with his sureness & to try new ways of approaching things. The way Dean Shein plays with words always unlocks new thinking ground for me. I think he’s the world’s funnest copywriter.

Your artwork, ‘Tangle Well’ was unlike any other submitted. Tell us a bit about the artwork, does it have a particular meaning to you?

Tangle well is one of my stories. Neck tension was the trigger. Most weeks are a meat grinder and I drew “I Tangle Well” with a cooked mind. Most weeks I’m exhausted from my juggling, but like most of the ILU crew, other than eating more greens, I wouldn’t change much. The intention of the shirt is to impart a sense of lift. To twerk with a smirk after a nice gut punch from life. Unhinge lightly my friend. I believe there’s a weird enrichment that can be gained in every twist thrown by life, so to anyone wearing this shirt - life will twist and turn on you and I, Timmy Worton hope you’ll tangle well.

Do you have any goals or aspirations to further push your creative side?

Write a song for a Disney movie. Like a coming-of-age ballad for Olivia Rodrigo when she was on High School Musical. A tune that even the 'too cool' guy would roll his eyes and still belt at karaoke. Penning at least one of those Disney songs that people make core memories to would mean a lot to me. It’s a moon-stretch to get there, so sharpening as a writer will be the way. As a start I’ve organised some of my years of poems and explanations I owe people into an EP called “Generation Wallflower”. I need to get in the trenches & actually produce it. Goal #2 is to design shirts that Ross Lynch, Lorde and my loved ones would feel tangley in. So again, to do that I need to improve as an illustrator. My vision is to design illustrations that people can wear to spark tangling conversations.

What other forms of art do you consume to keep yourself creatively nourished?

The art of crazy friends keeps me nourished. Especially since I can be SUCH a wimp, it’s in moments when Dean says “Hey let’s go swimming at 10pm on a rainy work night, oh by the way the water’s freezing.” These illogical acts nudge your soul into a good place. Hemmingway’s stories slow my brain into a gentle pace, and writers including Lana Del Rey, Fredrico Lorca and the book of Psalms cool my brain.

Now let me put you on for a second. Don’t buy Tangle Well until you’ve listened to BAGDAD - Cap 7:Liturgia by Rosalía. The way flamenco handles grief, heals me over and over.

How did you get to know I Love Ugly?

So gymnastics made my knees go funny and now they look strange in some pants. BUT then came the Slim Kobe pants! They changed the game for me, and I’ve been obsessed with ILU since. For 3 years my vision board has had “work with ILU at some point” so to be here is a literal dream come true.

Images shot by @bradlspencer & @pkprintnz

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