Spotlight: Tim Cook, Designer, Illustrator, Musician

It’s probably fair to call Nashville’s own Tim Cook a modern day Renaissance Man. After all, Tim is not only a product illustrator for GoNoodle, a freelance designer/illustrator, and a master of Koozie design for CMNSH; he’s also an amateur screen printer, a guitarist/keyboardist in the band ELEL, and a dedicated Nintendo enthusiast. 

If you’re as big a fan of Tim’s work as we are, there’s a lot more to look forward to this year! ELEL’s EP is out now, under Mom + Pop Music, and you can now pre-order the band’s debut, full-length album, out this Fall. 

And, that’s still not all. With Sam Smith, Tim is planning a Super Mario Bros. tribute art show for the game’s 30th Anniversary. We can’t wait to hear more about it, and we’ll be sure to share details as they’re available! 

CMNSH - What is your favorite project you’ve ever worked on? What would your dream project be?

Tim - I did a print project for the Memphis Grizzlies last year that was a lot of fun. It was pretty perfectly timed. I had done Porter Flea a month before and was told by a passerby that I “need more Nashville stuff.” After I mentally mocked her for I while, I thought about the customer being right and all, so I decided to do an illustration series of the Nashville mascots, starting with the Sounds because I love sports imagery and had just been to a game. 

Not far in to that I was asked to do an officially sponsored Grizzlies art show to raise money to renovate Memphis community basketball courts. I love the NBA so I threw Grizz into the mascot mix. I made a small run of prints and sent them in. They contacted me later saying they loved the design, asking to use it for promotional materials and other pieces. 

Ultimately, the design was purposed to also be some sweet shirts and a backboard for one of the hoops on a community court! Plus, I saw one of the shirts on tv during the NBA Finals this year! 

CMNSH - Since we’re in the Music City, what’s your go to playlist or podcast to listen to while you work?

Tim - I’m generally more of a podcast/audio book guy. My staples are 99% Invisible, RadioLab, and Song Exploder. It’s creeping up on football season, too, so CBS Fantasy Football Today is getting back in to the mix. I’ve also started the Game of Thrones audiobooks. I’m really picky about what I listen to in the way of music while working. I can get very easily distracted and end up focusing more on the subtleties of the music. Spotify tells me that I’ve been listening to a lot of Paul Simon lately. The Beach Boys are always in there, too. (the mid ‘70’s stuff is pretty wild and great).

CMNSH - What unexpected twists have you experienced in your career so far?

Tim - Man, the whole thing probably? Haha! My first impression of “graphic design” in high school was doing dumb business cards at Copy Cow so I wasn’t interested. Also in high school, my art teacher, though incredibly talented, was a real S.O.B. saying “Art school this. Art school that. This is how it is.” So, I wasn’t at all interested in that, either. 

I went in to P.R. my first two years of college, which I was convinced didn’t matter anyway because I was going to be a musician. Eventually, though, some of my friends’ parents, who were art faculty, showed me the light so I got in and heavily addicted. 

I moved to Nashville pretty much on a whim because I had friends here and thought I’d find some cool agency or something. In the meantime, I got a job as a sign painter at Trader Joe’s…three years later, here I am a full time illustrator for a pretty great product. 

I guess the biggest twist was Trader Joe’s. I met my bandmates there and a lot of artisanal folks, one of which led me to my job now. I hope that there are more twists. It’s a wild ride!

BONUS ROUND - What’s your favorite animated gif?

Created by /u/noise_filter (aka proxyrax) on 6/29/15

You can learn more about Tim Cook on his web site (, or by following him on Instagram, Twitter, and Dribbble. You can also follow ELEL on their web site (, on Instagram, and on Twitter.

Interview by designer + infographer Angela Gasparetti.