Since its inception in 2010, the Baseball Art Facebook has featured images representing thousands of paintings, drawings, sculptures and other artistic creations by hundreds of artists. The Facebook page was a spinoff of the BaseballArt.com website, and has become a virtual meeting place for baseball artists and fans of baseball art.
Along those lines, BaseballArt.com will feature a Q&A with a different person from the baseball art community during the 2013 baseball season. The weekly Q&A will be published Sunday morning and the link to the post will be shared on Baseball Art Facebook page.
Our first Q&A of the 2013 season is with Tim Carroll, an artist who has become well known for using a variety of materials and methods to produce unique and visually intriguing original art. We enjoyed our online conversation with Tim Carroll and look forward to watching his career as an artist continue.
Baseball Art: When did you realize you wanted to become a baseball artist and did you have anyone help push you along the way?
Tim Carroll: I have always been a bit obsessed with numbers, important dates, and anniversaries. In the spring of 2009 I attended an NSTA conference in New Orleans. I’ll never forget picking up a magazine at a convienent store and seeing a small article about the 100th anniversary of the 1909 T206 Honus Wagner baseball card. I decided I would like to work a piece of art in honor of the landmark card, but I didn’t want to use graphite, acrylic, or watercolor – mediums I was accustomed to using. Boxes upon boxes of stale, gumstained 1980’s common baseball cards were stagnant in my closet. Oh! If I could only trade every single card in that closet for a copy of the Wagner! That was the whole point of cards, right? To trade them away for cards you want! No collector would ever make that trade, so I decided to cut up those commons and make my own copy of the Wagner. I enjoyed making that piece so much, and I have been hard at it ever since. My family, especially my wife, has been a driving force for me. She has been so supportive – from being so patient in the beginning while I used the dining room table as my workspace to just being an honest critic of anything I produce. Other than that, the game of baseball in itself is a push to do bigger and better things. There is no aspect of the game that doesn’t spurn creativity. One can literally dedicate a life of artwork to an exact era, a specific team, or even a favorite player. The possibilities are limitless!
Baseball Art: Have you ever had the opportunity to share your artwork of a particular player with the athlete.
Tim Carroll: I know that a few athletes have seen my work of their likeness online, and a couple have seen the work in person. A private collector, after acquiring my Joe Morgan, took it to him at an autograph session in Philadelphia. According to the collector, he was very happy with what he saw. Another collector commissioned me to create a piece for her son, Lex Rutledge. At the time, he was pitching for Samford University. Shortly before I finished, he was drafted in the sixth round by the Orioles. He now has the piece hanging on his bedroom wall, and he has contacted me a couple of times since to let me know he is still enjoying the piece.
Baseball Art: Can you share an experience or interesting story about being a baseball artist?
Tim Carroll: Not an exact story or experience, but I think the most interesting thing I take from my work is having it be seen in person. It’s pretty fun to watch someone walk by and look, then stop, look again and say, “Are those BAND-AIDS?” Or, “That’s not a painting! That’s made out of SOCKS!” When knowledgable baseball fans see the work for the first time, it’s even better. They have the schema to connect the mediums with the subject. “Big Hurt” out of Band-Aids and ACE bandages. “Shoeless Joe” out of 19 black socks with an outside frame of 8 white socks. Mariano Rivera and Bo Jackson from shattered bats. Ted Williams from exactly 1,941 toothpicks. The big baseball fans smile. They get it.
Baseball Art: Are there any athletes that you haven’t drawn that you would like to capture with your artwork?
Tim Carroll: There are so, SO many!! My favorite all-time player is Willie Mays, and yet I haven’t finished a piece on him. It is in the works,
however. Same with my favorite baseball card – the 1962 Topps Mickey Mantle with those beautiful wood-grained borders. I do have drafts or incomplete pieces of Clemente, Koufax, Banks, Aaron. I’m also a big college baseball fan, and a season ticket holder of Coastal Carolina. I’d like to dive into a piece of some of my sons’ favorite CCU players for their bedrooms.
Baseball Art: Who throughout the history of baseball would you like to have the chance to watch a game with?
Tim Carroll: Easy question. My dad. We grew up in NE Mississippi, hours away from the nearest MLB park. We never had the opportunity to travel to a game when I was younger. By the time I was old enough to take him, he was too ill to go. He passed away last year, and not being able to attend a game with him is a regret I’ll always have. Outside of my dad, if I were to choose someone related to the game to attend with – it would have to be Ted Williams. I’d want to sit behind homeplate and just listen to his insight about the pitchers. I’d take notes on every hitter that stepped in the box. What’s each one doing wrong – and why? What are they thinking? Mechanically, what are they doing right? He was such a student of the game, and I think his career backed up every ounce of arrogance he possessed.
Baseball Art: Could you describe your “Studio Space” and what we would we see if we visited you during a project?
Tim Carroll: Since I am fairly new to the art world (first piece was 2009), my studio space has evolved quickly. I started out on my dining room table. From August 2011 to August 2012, I transformed a single car garage into my work space. Since August of 2012, I have been using a 12′ x 16′ extra bedroom as a studio. No shame about where my studio table came from – my wife found an idea on Pinterest for it. We used 4 smaller bookshelves as the legs and 2 solid doors purchased from Lowe’s as the tabletops. I bought a couple of old makeup counter lamps from a Belk remodeling sale a few years ago that serve as my light sources. On my table, you’ll see plenty of sportscards – mainly 1987-1989 Topps. You’ll see a cutting mat, several OLFA blades, several pairs of scissors, remnants of cards. The shelves are lined with the most random of materials – either extras of what I have already used (straws, boxes of toothpicks, guitar picks, stacks of vinyl albums, comic books, bags of shoelaces), or materials that I plan to use in the future. I have a laptop there to reference photos for the art. I have a CD/DVD/TV combo. That CD player wears out the Mississippi Delta blues (Robert Johnson, BB King, Albert King, Howlin’ Wolf, Son House). The Ken Burns Baseball 10-inning boxset that I regularly run through is sitting beside the TV. Any documentaries on the History Channel, Discovery Channel, or National Geographic usually hold my attention pretty well, and can almost be counterproductive for me (especially anything dealing with archeaology). The walls of my studio are lined with my artwork, which serves as some excellent conversation when we have guests in our home. If you were in the studio with me while I was working, you’d probably see a wide range of emotions. You’d see me very excited if I nailed the eyes or hands of a subject on the first try; you’d hear some choice words if I were reworking the same part of a piece for the 10th time. More than anything, I would hope that you would see the irony in stacks of common baseball cards – considered worthless in mint condition – become much more valuable when cut to shreds.
Baseball Art: Any other information you’d like to share?
Tim Carroll: I am looking forward to meeting several online acquaintances this summer. I will be a sponsored guest of Freedom Cardboard (Atlanta, GA) at the 2013 National Sportscard Convention in Chicago. At the convention, I plan to finish a piece of art on site to give other collectors a glimpse of what it looks like to see what I do in various stage of completion. Several of the pieces I still own will also be on display. When that Chicago trip comes, I hope to attach many faces to the names I see online – especially some from the Baseball Art facebook page!