Photo credit: Tim for Boys by Girls Magazine
Based in London, Tim Sprague is both an artist and model, whose work often explores the intricacies of our relationship with the human body. You can keep up with his work here.
What ignited your passion for art? Was there a specific moment when you realised this was what you wanted to do with your life?
I had this life plan to study law and then go on to be a lawyer, but there reached a point in college where I was really unhappy and I didn’t really know why. One day, my tutor looked at me and said “Tim, study art. When you talk about law I see nothing in your eyes, but when you talk about art I see passion and excitement.” I became happy again. Art is so unexpected and there are no lines to follow. I never want to be comfortable, because then life gets boring.
As well as being an artist, you have also worked as a model. In what way do these two realms influence each other? Do you see them as separate things?
I used to keep the two completely separate, but a photographer told me I should allow modelling to influence my work, and to use the industry to create platforms and contacts. We then collaborated on a shoot where we projected my art work onto me. Modelling has allowed me to meet some of the most inspiring people, see incredible places and experience so much. It’s made me grow as a person. The industry is full of bright energy, but also horrible dark times which have opened my eyes.
‘Evelyn McHale’ is one of your most recent pieces. What was the inspiration behind it?
It was for an exhibition called ‘Anthropocene’, where all the work in the show focused around the irreversible effect human kind has made on the world. We have become so obsessed with the instant. We neglect purity, self-control and nutrition for the simplicity of the microwave ping that delivers processed food, which we know is bad. We are destroying ourselves with these moments of toxic indulgences that quickly resonate into regret and anxiety. I parodied the image of ‘The Most Beautiful Suicide’. The burger sits so perfectly on the crushed microwave.
Your video, ‘Can’t Stand It But I Still Love You’, starts with the striking footage of you placing pills in the hollow of your collar bone. What was the inspiration behind the video?
My work focuses on exploring absurdity through interventions with the body and domestic value items. The film focuses around the diet pills I used to take, observing their physical properties and their personal relationship to me. I wanted to create a grotesque beauty. As a model, I’m constantly under the pressure to project beauty, despite feeling the opposite. The title comes from ‘Pills n’ Potions’ by Nicki Minaj, and I used the song to provide a bit of familiarity and humour to act as a sugar-coating mechanism. It’s a really personal piece of work. I used those sugar-coating mechanisms to disguise the vulnerability of confessing a disorder.
Who (or what) have been your biggest creative influences?
The thing that keeps me going the most is experiences, and what gets me out of bed is the fear of missing something. I don’t want to miss anything. I’m also really fascinated with people and the body. When you properly look at humans, we are actually really weirdly shaped.
You art seems to be telling many stories. What has been your favourite story to tell so far?
I like stories. The story in ‘Can’t Stand It But I Still Love You’ probably, because it got a lot of venom out. Although it was really hard to speak about and present, it allowed me to fight through the negativity in my head. It made me a lot stronger because I had to fight some really old demons.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to go down the same career path as you?
Experience things and surround yourself with good people. Don’t devote your life to education – find a world beyond it, because one day you won’t be in it. Get internships, go to things and talk to as many people as you can. Also, be prepared to fail. Learn that a lot of good stuff and growth comes from failing.