You can often understand a lot about an artists’ work just by the way the artist himself talks about it. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but perhaps the words are sometimes enough. Tim Manthey – an artist who is being referred to more and more as ‘Cloud Nectar,’ a name he originally paired with his work itself – is a contemporary collage artist creating dreamlike pieces that could easily be compared to the works of artists such as Salvador Dali, Andre Breton, or René Magritte with a modern day twist. Describing his own work as being “dipped in a surrealistic batter and deep-fried with love” it’s more than clear that Tim Manthey is connected to his work as an artist should be – he is in love with it, and he is in love with creating it, forming a passion that is readable through every collage he creates.
So, how does an artist such as Tim Manthey – a previous self-confessed dabbler – create these works of art? Wondering whether it’s a matter of finding one image as a kind of launching off point for each piece and going from there, I was curious to find out exactly what Manthey’s own process for working was. To this question Mathey replied in a somewhat nonchalant manner, “You hit the nail on the head. Unless I’m embarking on a thematic piece, it starts with one image flying off the page.” He continued to explain that “Once [he] gets back to the studio the starter image will mingle with different backgrounds, foregrounds, and other random bits that are in a messy pile on [his] desk. It’s the primordial soup method.” Creating art in such a trial and error manner most definitely works well for Manthey, creating pieces that are constantly free and organic in feeling, even despite the combination of images and colours being far from natural itself. This laid back approach to the creation of his collages works extremely well with the images Manthey chooses to use – with most of them being extracted from “books, magazines, and ephemera that are 20 to 100 years old” everything about Manthey’s work and the retro feeling that it creates rings true to a time of empowerment, creativity, and adventure.
Having said that Manthey’s work hints at empowerment, creativity and adventure, it became clear throughout our interview that he himself is also very passionate about all three of these traits. Sounding like some kind of an Artistic Freedom Fighter, Manthey didn’t have a rehearsed or even slightly narcissistic or selfish response when I asked what he’d still like to achieve in his career. Instead, Manthey took the opportunity to make a point of what too many of us know all too well, stating that “So many artists are not able to devote the right amount of time to their work to really let it blossom, because to make art a sustainable livelihood is challenging right now to say the least.” However, Manthey wasn’t simply pointing this out – or worse, rubbing in the fact that he was one of the lucky few that this no longer applied to – instead, he continued to explain that he wants to “see this change soon”, before announcing that he himself “would love to help be a part of that shift.”Manthey also went on to mention that he would “seriously like to get more in touch with the audience”, creating a ripple effect in my mind that perhaps these two wishes for the near future were related. It’s far too true that artists of all kinds are struggling to create – with todays economic climate just proving the cherry on top of a long list of obstacles still to overcome – but with Manthey later describing collaborations as the “hidden treasures in this journey” perhaps working together is in fact the first step towards a better future for all artists. “It’s the wave of the future.” Manthey declared when referring to collaborations, before adding that we should all “Seek out some collaborators. You won’t regret it.”
Unsurprisingly, due to this way of thinking about art, Manthey also had an impressive answer in line when I asked the eternally hopeful question of whether we could use art to change the world. “It’s interesting how currents move. I grew up in the eighties. Western culture and media in the eighties was highly influenced by what artists were doing in the sixties. There is a gestation period sometimes, but art always has lasting effects in the world. Now with streamlined forms of media gathering steam, that gap is narrowing. We are seeing the perspectives of artists shaping culture sooner and sooner. Art can put people in touch with their own original thoughts. Original thoughts when accepted as true, lead to action. Let’s watch this unfold and take part in it, and connect along the way.”
With that in mind, perhaps it is time to review the advice Tim Manthey would like all wannabe practicing artists to know. Here is a list of points he wishes he’d “heard from teachers, mentors and sages”;
1.) Run. Physically go running, at night if you can. Visions will come.
2.) Your unique way of seeing things is important, real, and something you’ve already been using. Be honest with yourself about what you truly desire and it will become art.
3.) Make lots of mistakes and experiment with mediums until you find a process that you can get totally addicted to. The rewards will flow immediately, because the process is the reward. Everything else is icing.
4.) Stay very, very curious and let go of cynicism.
5.) Trust your intuition like gravity, it can’t fail you.
6.) Doodle in traffic. Sing in the produce aisle. Make art constantly: good art, bad art, mediocre art, it all goes into the soup and leads to the next thing, so keep your hands moving.
7.) Ask for help. Be specific. Help will emerge from the woodwork. A time will come when you will help others, too.
It’s all quite simple, but I doubt many artists can admit to ticking off each of these points as often as they actually should – so, what are you waiting for, take the advice of an artist like Tim Manthey and who knows what you’ll be able to achieve. It seems the simple fact is, you’ve just got to keep moving, in Manthey’s own words, “What will you create?”