Tim Bower’s illustrations have appeared in the pages of Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, the Washington Post, New York Magazine, Rolling Stone, and Fortune. This month he came up with some interesting drawings for Texas Monthly’s annual Bum Steers issue. Here he discusses the process of illustration and what’s appealing to readers.
texasmonthly.com: How did you first become interested in illustration? What made you specialize in humor and entertainment?
Tim Bower: In college, it seemed to be the only viable way to make a living as an artist. I didn’t really set out to focus on humor, and I don’t do it exclusively; it just seems to be what folks want. Go figure.
texasmonthly.com: Did creative director Scott Dadich provide you with instructions for the illustrations, or were you free to create them as you wished?
TB: The lead piece came with pretty specific direction, but for the rest, I was free to make a mess as I saw fit.
texasmonthly.com: How did you decide which Bum Steer items to illustrate? Were you given a copy of the entire list, or just a specific few to portray?
TB: I was given probably fifteen or so from which to choose ten. It’s kind of an intuitive reaction that dictates which illustrations will be appealing to readers—usually an interesting object or gesture is involved.
texasmonthly.com: Were you familiar with the events and people involved in this year’s Bum Steers?
TB: I’m not really a pop culture guy, though these people are, unfortunately, impossible to evade.
texasmonthly.com: Was the process for illustrating the Bum Steer Awards different from your normal routine?
TB: It was a pretty routine process, except that I needed a lot of little ideas for illustrations. I probably spent more time with the idea phase for this assignment.
texasmonthly.com: What was your favorite Bum Steer item that you read from this year’s list? Which was the most fun for you to draw?
TB: They were all pretty funny. Which was the most fun to draw? Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe the Mexican jumping bean, because I don’t recall ever drawing one before, or maybe the dog poop on the gavel for the same reason.