For several years in his late teens and early 20s, Timothy Goodman worked as an apprentice to a Cleveland-area housepainter and faux-finisher, logging epic days of physical labor at million-dollar suburban homes. In the process, Goodman’s boss, a local painter named Dave Suster, became a father figure to him.
“It was the school of hard knocks,” says Goodman, who grew up in a single-mom household of modest means. Suster encouraged him to enroll in community college art classes, and in 2004 Goodman transferred to the School of Visual Arts, where he focused on projects with deep personal resonance.
His senior thesis, “Kids Need Dads,” considers the tenets of parenthood and masculinity. In flash cards and posters that detail the “tools for manhood” (literal and symbolic), Goodman printed two sets of laminated cards and sent one to Suster in Cleveland, who was moved to tears.
“Tim is our antidote to melancholy,” says his current boss, Brian Collins, of the experimental, experiential design studio COLLINS:. Charming and affable, with a bit of a Tintin style, Goodman’s fearlessness and willingness to look within is the foundation of his work. “I always strive to be part of projects that are memorable and unexpected, that allow me to squeeze a bit of myself out of it,” he says.
ABOVE Cover of Translucent Tree. Publisher: Vertical Press; Designers: Timothy Goodman, John Fulbrook; Illustrator: Mark Stutzman
At COLLINS:, he’s contributed to projects like the CNN Grill, a studio created for the Republican and Democratic conventions that featured transparent type treatments across the buildings’ façades. “It’s maddening and inspiring,” Goodman says affectionately of life at work with his colleagues. “We’re fighting about design, arguing passionately.”
John Fulbrook, who first met Goodman at SVA, hired him at Simon & Schuster, and brought him to COLLINS:, doubts that Goodman will return to Cleveland anytime soon. “Tim can do anything,” Fulbrook says, joking, “The student will go beyond the teacher. I think Tim will eat me someday.”