December 29, 2010

for those of you who came to the BIG THINGS launch party, you may have noticed the awesomely painted walls emblazoned with our name. heidi tullman is the woman responsible! visiting for a few weeks from brooklyn, we asked her to do a sign for the party on a whim, hoping she’d still be in town. she jumped in and without even really knowing what we wanted, busted out an incredible interpretation of the BT colors and shapes, using only leftover and free paint!

heidi is one of those warm-hearted people that you instantly feel bonded with. it makes perfect sense that she chooses to work with words as a painter, because she speaks thoughtfully and always with positive energy. her story goes like this: after floating around various cities in the diy and bike scenes, she became disillusioned with her urban nomad lifestyle and decided to turn it all in for a one way ticket to panama. living a simple, off-the-grid farming life was the plan, but when her gig fell through, she started painting signs in exchange for a room at a hostel. the rest of the island noticed and commissioned her to paint more signs around town. homesickness caused her to return to the states and concentrate on her work as an artist & sign painter…

this past summer was spent gallivanting around the ghosttown of pleasure beach (great article on it here), painting and working on installations in and around abadoned vacation homes with artists ben wolf and swoon. constantly on the move, she sent me the answers to BTA after spending the night exploring abandoned skyscrapers in detroit. merging elements of classical sign painting and typography with graffiti, her work reflects her constant struggle between passionately exploring the world’s cities and abandoning it all for the call of the wild. that’s probably why we get along so well.

visit heidi’s website and flickr for more images of her work and to contact her about painting you a sign. she would be happy to oblige!

Name: Heidi Nicole Tullmann

Age: 25

Hometown: Bakersfield, CA

Where are you right now? How’d you get there? Right now, I am in Detroit. I got here via megabus and a gold minivan. I am here with a group of friends making cool things and exploring this crazy city. A couple of them are putting the finishing touches on the PowerHouse/Juxtapoz projects. I’m helping out and doing my own thing.

Where are you going? After a couple weeks in Detroit, I’ll head back to Brooklyn then to Philadelphia to paint signs for Almanac Market. I’ve decided to keep going to wherever projects are happening that I want to be involved in.

What will you be doing when you get there? In Philly, I’m really excited to see the progress of my friends’ urban farm, probably drink some whiskey to offset the cold. But mostly I’ll be painting. I also want to check out the “Love Letter” project by Espo and his team.

Who/what/where inspired you to go in this direction? Well as far as traveling and living in different places goes, I have always wanted to see the world. I have never been satisfied to stay in one place for too long. Only recently have I recognized how I might do this well. I see patterns of living I admire in my friends, mostly, but we might be considered part of a larger subculture of artists, travelers, punks, or just kids with a lot of adventure and bravery in their blood. DIY youth disenchanted with society at large. I believe that the direction I’m going is part of a life-long path fueled by loyalty to my spirit and building community.

How are you feeling? Are you excited? Nervous? Terrified? Thrilled? I was just telling my friend how happy I am. It’s freezing in Detroit. It’s a bleak, fascinating, strange city. I’m poor and technically homeless. But when I am with these people doing these things, I am full. Excited! Hell yeah! Always a little nervous, but I know everything is ultimately OK, and the more I stay open to whatever, the more magic happens.

What kind of expectations do you have? I expect to get better at hustling. To find my groove. I expect to get more comfortable with myself and BIGGER/better with my art. I guess I just expect to always change and evolve and hope it’s for the better.

Are you scared of anything? Yeah, I’m scared that I don’t connect to my family and friends and well as I could, and that I’m creating an emotional or financial void all because I can’t stay in one place. But I think it’s important to base decisions on what you love, instead on what you fear. I think there is room for it all. Even legitimate fears can be transformed into positive forces with enough time or creativity. Investing in one part of the spectrum now might enable me to give more fully to the others later. You know what’s funny? I feel like if i delete my Facebook account, I will lose contact with most of my friends. That’s totally a fear! Wild.

What’s the worst thing that could happen? The best? Worst: probably falling in love. Best: traveling all over and not worrying about money. Collaborating with artists I admire and being able to give back to everyone who helps me.

What are you taking with you/leaving behind? My paint and quills are coming, so are these long johns. I usually carry a journal/sketchbook around. Good pens are important, too. I like to carry around a few precious beautiful objects to inspire and protect. I was stubborn about keeping my records with me wherever I moved for a long time. I give up. They’ve found a good home for now. I think I’m gonna try to break up with Facebook as well. I am always ditching clothes. I’m kinda extreme in my minimalism. There is something so freeing about just letting go.

What did your friends say when you told them? My friends are awesome and totally supportive. One of the biggest things I struggle with is leaving people behind. I feel a deep obligation to my people, and every year I meet more. I get really sad and nervous when I need to switch it up. I usually end up ducking out in a passive way and have even screwed people over in the past by committing beyond my means. I think I have always fantasized about having a routine that I love and throwing down roots in an awesome place. But when the spirit moves, that means I move. That’s something I am just starting to get comfortable with. My only true obligation. Honesty helps. When I am honest with myself, it’s easier to be honest to my friends. Your friends want to see you dream big and kick ass; there doesn’t have to be such a heaviness or permanence to leaving. Some might even come with you. And, as a good friend once said, the sweetest part is coming back.


photos courtesy heidi! polaroid by pauline pechin


shell wish
pause & play
drying rack attack

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  1. Hans on January 8, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    Heidi– I am so proud of you. You are a wonderful artist. Keep it up!
    love you always– bubby

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