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A Brief History of Tim

A Brief History of Tim

The Beginning of Tim

A steady diet of junk food and too much television in his youth led Timothy Young down the odd career path he finds himself on. As a boy he loved to doodle and play with clay. His mother fondly remembers yelling at him for getting Play-Doh stuck in her rug. He remembers all the toys he played with, the books he read and the many hours spent staring at the television set. He watched cartoons every Saturday morning and on Sundays it was Abbott and Costello movies and old black and white monster movies. When he got home from school he would watch more cartoons or Lost In Space or Star Trek re-runs. All the time he was drawing either the characters from these shows or creating his own weird creatures.

As a teenager Tim spent slightly less time watching television. In high school he tried out for the school musicals. This is where he confirmed that he had absolutely no talent as a singer, dancer or actor. The director let him be in the shows anyway since he was able to paint sets and do theatrical make-up for the actually good actors in the shows. He did have to promise to stand in the back and just move his lips.

Around this same time Tim got his first really fun job. He was hired to be a ghoul in the Haunted Castle at Six Flags Great Adventure. He got this job by failing his audition to be a clown. Tim ended up working in the Castle for 3 summers. It was a great job for a teenager who loved monster movies and also loved jumping out of dark corners and scaring the heck out of people.

Tim loved the art he was making in high school, so much so that he transferred to a different high school just to be in a 3 hour commercial art class in the adjoining vocational school. He had a painting accepted into an art show at the Monmouth Mall. Tim cut school to go down and see the exhibit and was caught being truant by having his picture published in the Asbury Park Press. Despite his focus on art in high school he did not think he would be a professional artist (a view shared, nee, emphasized, by his father.). 

In his senior year a friend of his invited him to come along to a portfolio review day at an art college in Brooklyn, NY. Tim threw a bunch of his art into a borrowed portfolio and spent the day going from table to table having his art scrutinized by representatives from most of the art schools in the country. He was afraid to live in a city like Brooklyn but he decided it would be rude to not have his work reviewed by someone at the Pratt Institute table anyway. He went home with even less of an idea of whether he would go to college.

Tim and Frank

The New York Tim

HS Newspaper Clipping

He was very surprised about a week later when he got a letter from Pratt Institute offering  him a partial scholarship. It made him think that maybe the scribbles he had drawn on his math and history homework could earn him a living as an artist.

So Tim moved to Brooklyn. Once he got to Pratt he learned that there were a lot of different kinds of artists. He learned about sculpting and painting and drawing and animation and graphic design and industrial design. He didn’t want to settle on any one kind of art so he tried to learn about them all. Tim eventually had to pick something so he chose to be an illustration major.

Timothy Young Graduates Pratt Institute

Illustrators can paint or draw or even sculpt, so that worked out pretty well for Tim. Inspired by the British 3-D illustrators Peter Fluck and Roger Law, he began to create a lot of sculptural illustrations. These pieces were so well received by his instructors, by the time he graduated, Tim found himself with an apartment full of sculptures that would not fit into a portfolio.

Here are six examples of his college work.

Timothy Young's Sculptures from Pratt Institute

Tim Moves On

The Crew of Pee-Wee's Playhouse, 1st season

A college friend told him that a company in Manhattan was looking for sculptors so he loaded up the sculptures into a couple of boxes, got on the subway to the city and showed them to the people at Broadcast Arts on lower Broadway. They liked the box full of stuff and hired Tim to work on a new television show called Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.

He started by building props and models of food characters for the “Life in the Fridge” scenes. Then he sculpted clay models for a segment called Pee-Wee’s Brain. He was eventually put in charge of design and model-making of the clay animated “Penny“ cartoons. He even sculpted the characters that made up the Pee Wee Pictures logo at the end of the show. 

As you can see from the crew photo, Tim really stood out. You can read more about his work on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse on his blog.

Pee-Wee's Playhouse clay Pee-Wee sculpted by Timothy Young
Pee-Wee's Playhouse Pee-Wee's brain sculpted by Timothy Young
Pee-Wee's Playhouse Pee-Wee's alien sculpted by Timothy Young
Pee-Wee's Playhouse Penny Cartoon title sculpted by Timothy Young
Pee-Wee's Playhouse Penny Cartoon family sculpted by Timothy Young

Due to the fact that practically everyone associated with animation in New York worked on the show, Tim made lots of connections and wound up working on many animated commercials and other projects, including the never broadcast commercial for French’s “Joy of Chicken” and the award-winning Big Time music video for Peter Gabriel, in which Tim’s right hand makes a cameo appearance. He also art-directed commercials for Time-Life books, NCTV, and Walt Disney World. Although he was having fun in animation, his heart was still in illustration, so he began to seek clients. A friend from college gave him his first assignment for Doubleday Books, a 3D Alien artist for the cover of a catalog. Before long, Tim was creating 3D images for clients such as Leroux Liquors, Golf Digest, E – the Environmental Magazine, Popular Science and National Lampoon.

The Talking Penny Doll prototype

Around this time, Tim met Karen Lyons; a plush toy designer who had worked on the Pee-Wee’s Playhouse toys for Matchbox Toys. She introduced him to the people at Matchbox, and he was given the chance to design and sculpt the Talking Penny Doll. He was very proud of it and couldn’t wait for it to come out in the stores. Unfortunately, the dopey marketing folks didn’t think Penny was an important character and the doll was never manufactured. Undaunted by this experience Tim sought other toy industry clients.

Tim worked freelance for a number of toy companies such as Jesco Toys, Galoob, Tyco, and Screamin’ Products. He also looked for other interesting opportunities. He was a big Muppet fan so he called and got an interview with the Henson company for work on the series The Jim Henson Hour. He did some preliminary design work for Muppet characters and built a few background Muppets including a whippet newsboy for the hour-long episode Dog City. Unfortunately, due to a writer’s strike, the series did not last.

Dog City Whippet Newsboy Muppet

Tim was then offered a job at Marketing Equities, soon to be called Equity Marketing (eventually called Equity Toys). He spent two years as a full-time freelancer, designing premium toys for fast-food restaurants such as Arby’s and Burger King. While there, Tim was instrumental in persuading his bosses to acquire the license for a brand new show, The Simpsons. He was the first sculptor to figure out how to make Bart, Lisa and Maggie Simpson’s hair work in 3-dimensions. The show, and the the Burger King promotion, were big hits. 

The Simpsons Burger King Toys, the heads were sculpted by Timothy Young
The Simpsons Burger King Toys, the heads were sculpted by Timothy Young

The Tim Traveler's Wife

Still jumping back and forth, doing illustrations here, toy designs there and the occasional animation project, Tim was about to make a big change in his life. Just as he was engaged to be married, his fiancée Melanie was offered a job in London. Tim always wanted to visit England so he thought it would be great to live there. As Melanie was born in England, she was eligible to work there. As soon as they were married, Tim could work there too. So they got on a plane and moved to the UK.

Tim and Melanie Young packed up their stuff and moved to London. Tim Clarke, one of the inventor’s of the Boglins puppet toys, had told Tim to look up a company called Seven Towns when he got to England. Tim did as he was told and ended up working with Seven Towns for almost the entire time he lived there. He learned a lot about how toys are invented and created some new designs and sculpted characters for a lot of different toys like the Mini Boglins, P.E.T. Aliens, Pocket Shockers and a bunch of others. They even sent Tim to the Frankfort Book Fair to research children’s books.

During his time in England he enjoyed walking the public footpaths, visiting Stonehenge numerous times (everyone who visited Tim and Melanie wanted to see it) and drinking in pubs. He also found time to freelance for other toy companies like Waddington’s Games, Vivid Imaginations and the French company Ideal Losirs, which he still can’t pronounce to this day.

UK toy line Mini Boglins - designs by Timothy Young
UK toy line Pocket Shockers - sculpted by Timothy Young
UK toy line P.E.T. Aliens - designs by Timothy Young
UK toy line Mini Boglins - sculpted by Timothy Young
UK toy line Looney Tunes - sculpted by Timothy Young
UK toy line P.E.T. Aliens - sculpted by Timothy Young

Oh, we forgot to mention, while living in England, he and Melanie had two children. Melanie left her job since she wanted to be home for the kids and Tim had to do something he’d never done before. He had to get a real job! So they packed up their stuff once again and moved back to the land o’ opportunity. But, after living in New York and London, where should they go? Los Angeles? Chicago? Cleveland? 

Tim to Head Home

In the end, Tim found himself back in New York with a job as Design Director for the idea factory (all lower case, intentionally). The idea factory had bought the license to manufacture the Meanies, the anti-beanie babies. Tim lead a talented group of designers who created some great (if a bit weird and twisted) characters. Along with creating Splat the Road-Kill Kat, Floaty the Fish and others, he also found he had a knack for writing the limericks which appeared on the hangtags. This was what started him thinking that maybe, just maybe, he might be able to be a writer. Only time would tell.

Tim and his team of toy designers also created over 300 toy and souvenir products for Universal Studios, Walt Disney Stores, Disney on Ice shows and Barney

Timothy Young - Design Director of the idea factory
Timothy Young and his 3 children

Around this time, Tim found himself living back in New Jersey of all places. He and Melanie added a third child and a bunch of pets. After his time at the idea factory, Tim spent some time as the Design Director at Shelcore Toys. He and his department designed a lot of preschool toys but he was unsatisfied creatively and wanted to get back to his own ideas he had started and put aside many times. So he quit his full-time job and moved his family to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where Tim founded Creatures & Characters. He even designed this neat logo for his new company. 

Creatures & Characters logo

Tim Marches On

Tim decided to pursue his dream of writing and illustrating children’s books. While doing this he met a guy who had two books published by Random House. He wanted Tim to illustrate a project he was developing. When he found out Tim was trying to get published he said he could arrange a meeting with his editor. Soon after, Tim went to New York and had a meeting where he pitched some ideas for books. The editor did not particularly like any of the books he showed her but she really liked his Creatures & Characters logo and asked for a book that looked like the logo. Two weeks later, Tim sent her the outline for the book I’m Looking For A Monster!  A few weeks after that Random House sent him a contract. Since that time, Tim has learned that things don’t work that way in the publishing business. You never get to pitch directly to an editor in their office, they rarely tell you what they want and they almost never contract books that quickly.

Below are images from the original picture book dummy Tim submitted.

I'm Looking For a Monster original art.

He followed up his first book by submitting a book called They’re Coming!. His editor liked it and presented it to the acquisitions department. They said they liked it but did not want to follow one monster book with another. They asked if Tim had any book ideas using dinosaurs or dragons? The next week Tim submitted three book manuscripts, I’m Looking for a Dinosaur, Twilight Dragonflight and Shadows On My Wall. Marketing liked the idea of a sequel and sent Tim a contract for I’m Looking for a Dinosaur.

I’m Looking for a Dinosaur was a huge hit, or would have been had the 2009 housing crisis not caused an economic downturn. Random House cancelled the book while it was on press, along with half of the other books they had planned to publish in 2009. Sadly, his editor had to send back all his book submissions. 

After waiting out the Great Recession, Tim was introduced to the fine folks at Schiffer Publishing who happily published his books Shadows On My Wall and They’re Coming! in 2012. In 2013 they released I Hate Picture Books! It got great reviews and for some reason Tim began getting invitations to speak to many great organizations and at prestigious events. 

The Current Tim

He has since signed thousands of books at events like the Baltimore Book Festival, the Collingswood Book Festival, the Hudson Book Festival, the Virginia Festival of the Book, the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens Ghouls & Gourds Festival and many others. He was even invited to fly to the United Arab Emirates for the 2016 Sharjah International Book Festival where he did drawing workshops with kids from all over the Middle East. After attending so many events and getting to meet so many other authors Tim decided it would be great to have a book festival where he lived. With the help of organizer and fundraiser Marie U’Ren and the support of the Talbot County Free Library the Chesapeake Children’s Book Festival was born. 

Tim designed this cute crab character for the festival logo.

He is incredibly happy that he has been able to live his dream of almost never having to have a real job. He now is the author/illustrator of 11 picture books, 2 how-to-draw books, his first middle grade chapter book and a couple of books that he’s illustrated for other authors. He’s working on new books constantly and he recently had one of his toy concepts produced, the Chicken Fight Pool Game. You can find out more about all of these throughout this website.

The thing he finds most amazing is that he gets to visit schools and talk to students about all of the stuff he has done. The students love the way he reads his books, he gets to draw fun pictures with them and tell them interesting, funny stories. Tim says “It’s almost like being a kid again, without the homework.” He averages about 4 or 5 visits a month during the school year and is hoping to do even more. He has visited schools all over the United States and has set himself the challenge of visiting as many school in as many new states as he can. You can find out more about bringing him to your school here.

Please contact us to book Timothy Young for a school visit or to hire him for freelance or commissioned art.

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