Timothy Goodman has been around the creative block. An award-winning artist, graphic designer, author and public speaker, his work has been featured in the New York Times, Fast Company and Wall Street Journal. He has designed for names like Nike, Samsung, Yves Saint Laurent, MoMA and Netflix to Tiffany & Co., Uniqlo, Target Apple, Google, and The New Yorker. In 2021, Goodman made his debut as a solo gallery artist with I’m Too Young To Not Set My Life On Fire, an exhibition of his original artwork in Manhattan.
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Timothy’s works span from murals to gallery shows to even clothing designs. But no matter what project he gets involved in, one thing is certain — the impact his personal journey has had on where he stands today.
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He explains it all in ‘I Always Think It’s Forever: A Love Story Set in Paris as Told by An Unreliable Narrator‘, his new memoir full of honest and sometimes heartbreaking stories about love, heartache, and a search for self-acceptance. Timothy sat down with me in this latest podcast to talk about his book and the journey that led him to write it.
There’s No Such Thing As Being Fearless
A highly accomplished person like Timothy ought to have some sort of magic gene or characteristic to help him scale the ladder of success, right? Expressionism is a daring field, and it’s hard to imagine a career in it without extraordinary talent or fearlessness. While the first is definitely applicable in his case, Timothy tells me that the latter trait isn’t something he possesses – in fact, he believes the notion of fearlessness is false altogether.
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As human beings, fear is hard-wired into our brains. It’s a natural survival instinct that can’t be turned off, only managed in modern life. Timothy argues that he’s always been, and always will be, afraid of failure. Mastering the ability to suppress that and try anyways is what’s gotten him to where he is today. That and a lot of trial and error.
The first four to five years of his career are what taught Timothy the value of exploratory ambition. After graduating from New York’s School of Visual Arts, he started a year-long job as a book jacket designer, followed by a two-and-a-half year branding role at Brian Collins and then a position at Apple in Cupertino, California. It was really about throwing everything at the wall to see what stuck.
Timothy found himself investing endless amounts of time into his work – weekends, evenings and nights all spent making things in an effort to find a creative voice. It eventually led him to finding his niche in 2010, after completing his first mural as a side job.
A year later, he quit his full-time job for a career of freelancing and doing what he loves. Fearless? Not really – there was plenty of doubt involved. His courage to give it a shot is what drove him to the top.
Believing In Your Passion and Putting It First
The definitions of professional success and happiness are often thought to go hand-in-hand. Get a good job, high pay, impressive title, and you’ll be set. But is that really the case? According to Timothy, the answer is no.
It’s a lesson he learned after taking what many would consider a dream job in California. Only a few years out of school and he was offered a role at tech giant Apple – along with all the illustrious employment benefits it’s known for. But stocks and dental work aside, Timothy found himself at his unhappiest in Cupertino. Sure, living the Bay life is great for some people, but for him, it felt like a mistake.
14 months at his job and he found himself wanting to escape as soon as the clock struck 6 PM. It was then, he explains, that he realized he wasn’t doing himself any favors by sticking to the status quo.
It’s why he decided to take a leap of faith and try something new – leaving his job at Apple for art. It’s not a decision that would be easy to explain to your mother, or that would be seen as “sensible” to your colleagues, but it was a decision driven by passion.
To Timothy, it was a chance to prove he could make it on his own and take control of his life. What followed was a period of chaos, but one that he wouldn’t trade for anything.
Success and Mental Health Are Not Mutually Exclusive
Even after moving to New York and finding his bearings as an artist full-time, Timothy tells me that he struggled with mental health and depression, ultimately leading to thoughts of suicide in 2018. A lot of it had to do with trauma from his childhood, which he had been suppressing for years. It was a major wake-up call to realize that his success and his mental health were not mutually exclusive — in fact, his success had been a reaction to the trauma he endured and was still holding on to.
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It took Timothy time and therapy to come to terms with this truth and start working towards a healthier relationship with his mental health. Tackling learned behaviors like toxic masculinity and close mindedness gave him the ability to heal, although it’s a process that he’s still working on today.
He says that he’s become a lot better at accepting his limitations, understanding that life isn’t always linear. It’s a sentiment that’s shared by many creatives, and one of the main reasons why Timothy believes it’s so important to prioritize mental health over all else.
Timothy’s success is living proof that life-changing experiences aren’t just for the brave. He believes that fear is a factor, but not a deterrent. It’s all about how you face and confront your own anxieties to find personal growth. If he can do it, so can you.