Varied Design and Illustration by Timba Smits

Timba Smits is a diverse illustrator and designer working in a variety of mediums with a range of visual qualities with which he is constantly experimenting and exploring.

You may have seen his illustrations of the covers of Little White Lies magazine, where he is also Art Director and a designer.


To his strength, Timba combines his skill with and a pen and pencil with his interest in vintage designs. He seems to easily move from detailed, realistic portraits to the more playful aesthetic of his design work.

He talks to us about the need to keep trying new things and some of the stages he goes through when making his work.


My name is Timba Smits — I am a multi-disciplinary artist currently living and working in London, UK. I paint, I draw, I create magazines.

Although I do lots of different things, most of my time is spent as Art Director, Graphic Designer and Illustrator for iconic film mag Little White Lies and its sister publication Huck.

When I’m not working on these or when taking a break from my own personal work, I also work as a gun for hire for other select clients including the likes of Wired Magazine when the project and timing is right.


I am really inspired by the past and quieter times that is everything from old movies, books, magazines, cars, fashion and 50s dames. It doesn’t take much of a glance to see there are noticeable influences in my work ranging anywhere from the early 1900s through to the 50s, 60s and 70s.

I like old stuff. New stuff (as in gadgets and technology) bores me a lot of the time. It can be oh-so distracting and I find it all a bit of what I call ‘same same’.

But to set the record straight, I’m not all about my art.

Wherever possible I love to switch off and get outdoors. Mountains and nature are my favourite place to be and have a HUGE influence on me. Not necessarily through my work but how I feel as a person. For my energy. This comes in handy for all those hours spent in the studio and in front of a screen.


I would say that my creative process is slow and time-consuming but fun. I like to inject a lot of tongue-in-cheek humour (or puns) where possible in my work, most noticeable in my coupon illustrations such as ‘Everlasting Ink’ or ‘Doc Browns Authentic Flux Capacitor’ where I just get to make silly stuff up.

Often I get the ideas from old 1950s Popular Science or MAD magazine ads. You know, Sea Monkeys, Exploding Golf Balls, that sort of thing.

I consider myself to be a bit of a prankster and I often find myself laughing (at myself) in the process. It’s good therapy during those tougher challenges/deadlines.


Depending on the project, I work mostly offline using traditional materials (that is, away from the computer) followed by digital colouring and finishing-up in Illustrator and Photoshop. This partly adds to my work’s mid-century charm.

I am a HUGE demon for detail and like to allow the full amount of time for any artwork or project to truly take shape.

This sometimes means pushing projects away (personal or commercial) when I worry there’s not enough time allowed for this. Or, pushing to extend unrealistic deadlines.

There’s nothing worse than looking back at an artwork and feeling sad because you felt that with more time, it could’ve really been something great, you know that feeling? My mantra: Good work takes time. Great work takes a lifetime. It’s all about Quality Over Quantity I say.


Like my process, my technique is just as varied with routine jumps between pencil drawn, painted on, pen illustrated or direct-to-screen vector designs. Sometimes, a mashup of them all. It all depends on the look I’m aiming for really.

You see, I don’t have a narrowed or set style that I prefer to work in. Instead, I have an aesthetic to my work that gives it a recognisable look featuring similar attributes such as my use of texture and type but my artworks never look the same in style.

This is the result of being too interested in many different creative forms, mediums and shapes. That, and I enjoy experimenting too much! But if I was really forced to choose a favourite medium, I would have to say wood, acrylic paint and varnishes. Wood… Timba… it makes sense, no?


© Timba Smits, 2015

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