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Jazz Guided an Artist’s Hand

New Orleans is one of my favorite places in the world because New Orleans is where jazz comes from.

My murals, and the way I perform them live, have always been inherently influenced by jazz music. Like jazz, I work with a set structure of arrangements, and improvise around them. I try to let something be “free” when I’m drawing. I want to say the most with the least amount of notes. I want you to find something new every time you look at my murals, just as you would when revisiting a record you love.

Timothy Goodman
Photo by: Doug Murray

When I was a teenager, I decided I wanted to learn more about jazz. At first, I thought it was a cool thing to tell people. I would buy the Time Life box sets, and all the “Best Of” compilation CDs and play them when friends came over.

While I knew there was a real value to be discovered in the music, I didn’t have the capacity to understand it at the time. It wasn’t until later in my mid-20s that I began to appreciate the music and really understand how jazz—and consequently New Orleans—played an important role in the fabric of American history.

Photo by: Doug Murray
Photo by: Doug Muray

I’m inspired by stories of triumph, particularly those of the African American community. As the Civil War ended, and the Jim Crow era begin, Jazz was born in New Orleans from that adversity. The music was created as a way to honor African-American culture, to tell their own painful and celebratory stories, and to react to the world around them. To do so was with pride, soul, and style. By the 1940s, Jazz was one of the most popular genres of music in the world.

Photo by: Doug Murray

The great writer, Gerald Early, once said, “when they study our civilization two thousand years from now, there will only be three things that Americans will be known for: the Constitution, baseball, and jazz music. They’re the three most beautiful things Americans have ever created.”

It was a privilege and an honor to contribute my work to The Jazz Market and the city of New Orleans.

Jazz represents improvisation. Jazz represents expression. Jazz represents democracy. Jazz represents all of us.

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Timothy Goodman's art and words have populated walls, buildings, packaging, cars, people, clothing, shoes, book jackets, magazine covers and galleries all over the world. His clients include Google, Samsung, Uniqlo, Target, Airbnb, Netflix, The New Yorker and The New York Times. He is the author of the book Sharpie Art Workshop and co-author of 40 Days of Dating. He teaches at SVA in New York City, and he uses Instagram to talk about his feelings.

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