The Peninsula Pulse has teamed up with the Door County Art League (DCAL) to reprint portions of interviews conducted by Randy Rasmussen, a DCAL Member-at-Large, with various artists. Featured in this issue of the Pulse is Hermke Timm. To read the interviews in their entirety, to sign up for DCAL’s monthly newsletter or for more information visit http://www.doorcountyartleague.org.
Several weeks ago, I had an enjoyable interview with well-known Door County artist Hermke Timm at his studio located on Lake Michigan just outside of Sturgeon Bay. Hermke is known for his representational work that shows his great attention to detail, and recently, for his whimsical Kuntebunt series which show appreciation for color, design, and humor.
Randy Rasmussen (RR): Hermke, you were born in Germany?
Hermke Timm (HT): Yes, I was born in Berlin in 1938.
RR: Do you remember, from an early age, enjoying art?
HT: I think I always enjoyed art. It was something I was good at, and I remember enjoying figure drawing in high school. I always received positive reinforcement from my art teachers, and I think this encouragement led me to a career as an engraver. Engraving was an art-related career, and I thought it would be a good way to make a living.
RR: Where and how did you train to be an engraver?
HT: Germany has an apprentice system when one wants to become an engraver. As an apprentice I tried to learn everything I could about the profession. After my initial apprenticeship training years were completed, I went first to Switzerland to expand my knowledge as a journeyman. In Switzerland I engraved sports trophies. To gain further experience I left Switzerland and went to Norway for several years. My education was very thorough and covered all aspects of engraving, including sculpture, enameling, plate engraving and glass sculpture. While in Norway I met an individual who studied at an art school and she told me, "you have to study art!" She influenced me to continue learning.
RR: What finally brought you to the United States?
HT: My girlfriend, who later became my wife, had relatives living in the United States, specifically in Illinois. She told me I had to come and see this country. We came and thought the United States was a wonderful place with great opportunities. We moved here in 1964, and with my training, I quickly found a job in my profession on engraving.
RR: Then after several years you were able to purchase an engraving company?
HT: Yes, in 1968, I purchased a company, Alpha Die Engraving Incorporated, from a fellow German. Then in 1989 I started a company called Mint Masters. Mint Masters is a family-owned business that I am still involved in, and we make medals and medallions.
RR: You have shown me examples of some of your interesting commissions.
HT: We have done medallions of Brett Favre, Bart Starr and Vince Lombardi. On an international level, we have done medallions of the Pope and other world leaders. The success of the company has been gratifying.
RR: Aside from your successful engraving career, you continued to maintain your interest and participation in fine art?
HT: Yes. When living near Chicago, I took classes at the Art Institute. I enjoyed the creativity and experienced many types of mediums. Always though, drawing, which is the basis for engraving, has remained a favorite.
RR: But you show great skill working in other mediums, such as watercolor and tempera.
HT: I enjoy watercolor, tempera, and printmaking. I think I just simply enjoy creating.
RR: Tell me about your current work which seems to be a departure from your previous work.
HT: I always considered myself a “realist,” and then, on a trip to Vienna, I saw work by Friedensreich Hundertwasser and I was very impressed. His work had brilliant color and beautiful design with whimsical subjects. My last series was my reaction to seeing his paintings.
RR: And what a change from what we have seen you do in the past.
HT: It was a change but it was great fun to do.
RR: Do you enjoying living and being an artist in Door County?
HT: Door County is inspirational. I admire the changing skies, the water and the sunsets. My studio is a wonderful place to work and I have countless subjects within minutes of my home.
Randall Rasmussen is a Charter Member of the Peninsula Plein Air Painters, and his work can be seen at http://www.penpap.com.