Artist Timm Schneider has residents of Weisbaden, Germany, taking a second look at what some people are calling “urban invention,” a new form of street art that uses the environment as part of its creation. Essentially, it’s a game of “I spy.” About 35 minutes west of Frankfurt, the 28-year-old street artist is bringing a new form of expression to his community. Turnstyle News sat down with Schneider to get a closer look at this ironic art form. Can you find his contribution to these public spaces and when you do, how does it make you feel?
Turnstyle News: How did you become interested in this art form?
Timm Schneider: I’m interested in many art forms but just because I see many things as an art. My early aesthetic roots grew up out of graffiti. It taught me about shape and composition, but bored me later because of the very limited message – very similar to advertising. But then, I saw my first piece of street art, and I saw a whole new media (sic), free and powerful. It was an eye-opener –very empathetic to the way it transports its message to the people. During the last few years, I’ve learned so much about communication through my study but even more by artists that perform in the urban environment.
Turnstyle News: Describe what it’s like to get a new idea. From there, how long does it take you to implement?
Timm Schneider: When I work for clients, I have to be creative on the spot and every good creative has his or her own techniques to generate content. But in my free work, an idea can evolve over days, weeks even months before it hits you in the moment. Depending on the message, I realize the ideas right away or I write them down in my sketchbook for the day I can use them in a brainstorm. And here is the interesting point where commercial work meets free art and exactly this tiny intersection of industry and art is my personal definition of design.
Turnstyle News: Can you make a living from creating this type of art work?
Timm Schneider: I’m a freelance graphic designer – that’s good and bad for my art work; on one hand I’m full time involved in a field I could study 100 years in a row and still just measured the tip of an iceberg. On the other hand, I’m specializing so much that I may lose sight at the real world by functioning too much and loving too little. I often think that an honest job could be more fulfilling. I never wanted to be a designer. I always wanted to be a lumberjack! Urban intervention is a good way to keep track, it’s training for making complicated content comprehensive by the world’s best motivators: fun and joy. So, you see, I make a living out of my art work but with detours.
Turnstyle News: How much does this endeavor cost you?
Timm Schneider: Some projects have a deep impact and nearly no costs – others are expensive where you wouldn’t expect it. Guerrilla warfare is the art of transforming disadvantages into advantages. A cheaper media may have whole new variables you could use and therefore shape the message of your product into Novum. The eyeballs in particular weren’t that expensive. The Helium for the balloons in the telephone booth was costly. When the impact is worth the price, I gladly pay for it.
Turnstyle News: What do you find so fulfilling about putting eyeballs around the city?
Timm Schneider: That something so little can do so much. It transforms things into beings. It changes the way people see the world around them by shifting only a detail — the very same way humor works. The eyeballs explain something difficult like perception very easy. It changes the purpose of things: a trash bin can be the Cookie Monster. The world around suddenly isn’t something fixed anymore, it’s something you can change. People are realizing this very optimistic opinion with a smile on their faces, more than I ever could have asked for.
Turnstyle News: What’s the most challenging thing about doing this artwork?
Timm Schneider: For the eyes: to make the black dots really round. For everything else: to execute a good idea in a spectacular way. Nothing’s worse than a good idea with sloppy execution, but a sloppy idea spectacular executed.
Turnstyle News: How has your life changed since you started doing this?
Timm Schneider: I learned that confidence in my ideas let them become reality through hard work that is worth the effort. I learned that self expression makes me happy, happy enough to share this happiness by doing something good. Doing good triggers something better. Always.
Turnstyle News: Why do you think this is important to continue? What keeps you motivated?
Timm Schneider: Doing good, having fun. Don’t take me wrong. I’m neither a naive hippie nor a blind optimist. I know that the world isn’t fair. And, I know that because of that, the responsibility of every single man is to push in the right direction.
Turnstyle News: What’s next for you?
Timm Schneider: I just spent a whole year working for clients. During that year, I wished I had done more experimental free work. Next year, I will make use of the freedom of a freelancer and take some time off, move to a new city and try some new things.
Disclaimer: Turnstyle News received these photos from a campaign by Philips to promote male self expression in everyday environments. Here’s more information.