When I saw this card, I began to think about the things you’ve said to me. I was also inspired by it just as I am inspired by you. I can’t even begin to tell you all the things you have taught me. I’ve learned so much, from girls to morals. You’re like a missionary.
Forget Michael Jordan and I hate to say it, but even Michael Jackson, YOU are a true role model. You’re the one who should be on NIKE commercials. I feel like I cut classes because my education was elsewhere. I remember the time when you told me that you were living in your van and your mom was like, “Timm, get a job so you can at least pay your bills.” and you refused because you were doing what you loved to do. You had the persistence and determination. I respect that so much. That gives me no reason but to go on so one day you will see me dancing my life away professionally.
I can’t tell you enough how blessed and honored I am to be put on the walls of Maine West forever.A lot has to do with who put me there. On Thursday night (2/5/98), when you went to go get the projector, I was left there alone looking at the wall and I took a second to think about it and it really hit me. It made me feel like my Spirit would literally be in that high school for eternally. The fact that you put me there makes it that much more special.
I hope that everything in the future all goes well for you and your wonderful wife. I know that we will keep in touch. Thank you for all the advice, memories, and knowledge. Good luck with your beautiful work.
Growing up art was something that was not considered a career or anything of real value. Though I grew up with a mother who majored in graphic design, my love for drawing and storytelling was not appreciated. I would stay up late doing homework and then sneak in hours to draw on the computer - and if she found me she would either ground me or force me to go to bed. I wasn't even seen as 'the artist' in my school as there were more talented artists who drew more realistically that people seemed to appreciate more. I was in a low and, even in middle school, I became depressed and unwilling to try illustration anymore.
But then it suddenly changed. When Timm presented at my school, I was so excited. My friends and I talked at length about him - how he beat the odds of health issues and color blindness. I remember him saying "We all know that one artist in the school..." and everyone turned... and looked at someone else. That pit in my stomach was there for a bit, but I really wanted to impress Timm and let that insecurity wash over me. So I did go and talk to him when he was on the scaffolding and just wanted so bad to get to know him.
Then the art show happened. My mom and I went to the art show and, now it happened a long time ago and I was so shocked when it happened that my brain may have broke a bit, Timm told my mom that he liked my work and saw potential. I can't tell you what happened the rest of the night other than I looked at one of his murals and thought about how he did it with color blindness... and also wild dreams of following my passion and putting all caution into the wind to become an artist.
I would so often try to go to where he was painting the school's mural just to talk to him. He gave me hope for my work and the future that I wanted. I wasn't just me though. My friends and I would talk about him during lunch and how he became who he is despite the odds. It was the message behind his life story that enchanted us. We were excited. We wanted to do our best in whichever direction we were passionate about going in life because if Timm could do it then we could too. I had friends who suddenly realized their passions - and others who were suddenly experimenting with different subjects in school more to see which they were best at.
Because of Timm we were eager to find passion in our work in life. It's not just art, it's the story behind the art and the artist. He inspired us. He taught us a lesson in determination. No matter what age, hearing his story of where he was and where he is going - is so inspiring and touching to kids. Kids are curious, they want to take in as much knowledge and stories from so many places... and to see someone creating a masterpiece in the halls where they walk everyday... having someone there to pick up their spirits and make them smile brightens their entire day.
Since I met Timm I've never stopped fighting trying to find my place in the artistic community. I work in the video game industry now and currently had a couple producers and directors fight over who would get me on their project. I try so many new things and new mediums. Timm isn't just an artist, he's an inspiration and the catalyst for where I am today. He brightened my day for those months he worked at my middle school. I will always remember that year as being an exciting time at school. Thank you Timm, for being there for me and the kids to brighten our day and to inspire us to became who and what we wanted. Thank you for everything you've done.
One of the most significant memories from my eighth grade year (and I was later to realize my life at large) was when our school, Westview Hills, invited Timm Etters to paint a mural for our gymnasium. Of course it was "super cool" to witness the process of such an immense and intricately detailed work of art come together, but the friendship, guidance, support and inspiration Timm so naturally offered to us was the true sticking power of these memories.
As a young artist I was elated at my first experience of mentorship offered to me by Timm. I had always known art and music as electives and hobbies, but Timm showed me that living a creative life, “making art your JOB!”, was a very real and graspable possibility. He talked to us not only about his own training and experience, but about our own creative and artistic endeavors. In fact, he talked to the athletes about playing ball, to the bookish kids about what they were reading... he inspired all us us to get excited about the things we cared about, just the way that he himself felt so inspired and activated in doing the thing he loved.
The mural was, of course, amazing; but the deeper value of what we received was that Timm became our friend. The mural wasn't just done by some random guy... “our friend made that!!!” It was one of my first experiences of making an adult friend. Treating me like a fellow artist rather than "just a kid" made me feel valued and, coming from a non-artistic family, gave me faith and foundation in my own thoughts, ideas, and the way I spoke about my creativity. I felt confident and respected. What a tremendous gift!! After the mural was finished, Timm even went the extra mile and sent a signed limited addition print of one of his works to my house and it still hangs to this day!
I am grateful for all of the time and care Timm extended to all of us, and am happy to say his efforts have had a rather lasting impression on my life. At 33 years old I am currently working as a self employed artist, making my full living selling paintings and sculptures. Thank you to Timm, for being my very first role model and mentor; for showing me it is possible to follow your dreams, and that to have success in the arts, one does not have to be moody, wear black, be isolated, or cut off their ear! Following Timm's path of friendly, engaging, vibrant inspiration continues to work out best for me!! Cheers, Timm!!!!
For me, assuming the friendship grows as I anticipate, I would definitely say the time spent with each of us. I believe you have a really great spirit, and a very interesting story to go with your spirit. It is one I hope to get to know better.
As I noted to you before you left, we have a brand new school, that I am very appreciative of. However, my favorite part of it is the mural. To be honest, it became my favorite part before I ever got to know you. For that reason, I find your question a difficult one to answer whole-heartedly one way, or the other. Here is my explanation as to why the mural is my favorite part of the building.
Our old building, was well beyond its useful life, and definitely nothing to be proud of (though it contained a tremendous amount of sentimental value to many). I feel as though we, as students, were subliminally being taught mediocrity, how to be “settlers”, and on some level that we were a bit undeserving. The mural you have left us with is of such quality, I can’t help but to recognize that not only should we take pride in it as an integral part of our facility, but also that we deserve it. Once I started getting to know you, and learning how you developed the mural, how you took input from others and modified accordingly, how you stuck with it until it was just right, and ultimately, how it became more than just a mural, aspects of it became an expression of your love for our community. Hopefully, there are others in the community that recognize this to be the case, and I believe there are.
Ultimately, my answer has to be your time spent with the people, the kids. Had you and I not had the opportunity to get to know each other a little, simply witnessing how the kids (and not just my own) were drawn to you, how they wanted to hang out with you, how they wanted your opinion on things that matter to them, how they believed they were confiding in a friend, and how they miss you now that you have moved on, strongly influences my thought process.
All of that said, I am not sure the two can be separated. One (the mural, the art) creates the opportunity for the other (time spent), with a beautiful result left not only on the wall, but also in the hearts of those that have had the opportunity to get to know you.
Thank you so much for your gift.
The exceptional thing about Timm’s work is the thoughts that it produces.
Everyday, I see people standing in the atrium with their heads tipped upward in an attempt to absorb his genius. From now on, every student will have a chance to do the same. His murals encourage students to think in ways they normally would not and when they leave this school, the will exit a bit more enlightened than when they entered.
As obvious as it may seem, this summer is one that I will never forget. How could anyone not remember such an experience that truly changed their lives? Working with Mr. Timm Etters was absolutely incredible and a once in a lifetime event. I have found that I am a better artist than I was before this project, and I have more confidence about my work.
I looked at some of my sketches that I had done before this project and I found myself picking out all of the flaws in what I thought was the final sketch. It was sloppy, not detailed, and random. I decided to re-do it and it turned out to be a sketch that flowed, had thought and purpose. Most importantly, I learned to really think about what I would like to draw and have a plan, instead of just doing it. Before, I would just do a quick sketch and be done with it. But now, with the techniques that I have learned during this project, I have really started to think about what I am doing so that anything I create can be the best it can be.
Before this experience, I wasn’t always confident in what I would create. Be it a painting, a drawing, or a ceramic piece, I would always second guess myself and think that it wasn’t good enough and it wouldn’t meet peoples’ standards. In these past couple of months however, with Mr. Etters’ help, I have developed a certain confidence that only comes with growing as an artist. After hearing the compliments of everyone who passed through the garage, I always felt a renewed sense of accomplishment and confidence that others actually enjoy what I have done. After hearing the positive comments that I have heard, I find it extremely difficult to second guess my work and when I do, I have learned to just regroup my thoughts and keep going on.
Mr. Etters was definitely the perfect artist for the job. He was very supportive and helpful. If there was something that we were unsure about, he wouldn’t hesitate to stop what he was doing and come and assist anyone. We learned a great amount of techniques from him and he always had us laughing. The first day, I remember that I was very intimidated by him because he was such a renowned artist, but as time went on, the nervousness disappeared which truly made this project so much fun. When I didn’t finish at the same time as everyone else, Mr. Etters made sure to be at the garage when I was finished with school so I could work on my mural. He was always very supportive of me, to take my time and not rush to finish, so I would be happy with the end result.
I have to say, the best part that I think came from this project, is the result. I didn’t know any of the other students before this project. I would walk by them in the hall and not say two words to them. This project has brought together nine strangers and made them a family. I truly feel that I have met some people and wouldn’t call them friends, but brothers and sisters.
This project has allowed me to leave a permanent mark on my town. I can come back in 20 years, with my children, and still feel the same pride that I do today and honestly feel that I left a part of my heart in this painting.