How Rio 2016 Sparked a New Direction for a WA Designer

If you have attended Perth events in the past few years, you have likely seen the work of Tim Meakins.

His designs have decorated music festivals, art exhibitions and even the City of Perth.

Along with a growing collective of graphic designers, Tim shifting his style to incorporate hand-painted work into his repertoire. It is a journey that began with designing the treasured urban Ping Pong table for the Rio De Janeiro Olympics athlete’s village, no less.

Tim received the call up from Public Outdoor Ping Pong (POPP), a growing movement that installs ‘muralled’ outdoor ping pong tables in community spaces – parks and the like – to encourage connection and interaction through ping pong. Back in 2016, POPP were 350 activations deep and had paired up with the International Table Tennis Federation to take their tables to the big league and launch urban Ping Pong with a bang in Rio.

“At the time I hadn’t really tried my hand at painting or done any public art,” says Tim, who had a large learning curve ahead, to determine how to translate his digital design to this niche, painted medium.

“I did a little research at the time on concepts that could be a little different and off subject, I came into this ‘Dog Parade’ (a part of the annual Carnival) which is a big deal in Rio, so decided to draw some dogs and allow that to be the hero piece. We wanted to have a balance of classic Rio, beaches etc. then just a little slice of weird.”

Having never installed his designs via painting before, Tim found this part to be the greatest challenge.

“I’d been designing on Illustrator for years but never applied my artwork to surface before, so this a was a huge step for me … It’s like with anything, most cases you’re pretty average first shot. But once you practice once, twice or maybe three times, you’ll get it.”

As for the shift from the safety of digital design and ‘Ctrl + Z’ compared to freehand artistry with paint?

“It’s exciting and scary making work because I don’t have much of an arts background. I go into projects without much prior hands-on skills, so it’s extremely rewarding when it works out,” Tim says.

Tim says he is on a roll, having achieved a lot of success with his art and surfaces work, and feeling inspired to keep creating and following his natural instinct and curiosity.

“New ideas, materials and the different ways people interact with work / objects really gets me excited. Being a full-time designer and casual artist inspires me to put engaging work out there.”

Stay tuned to see the exciting projects and collaborations Tim Meakins has lined up.

For those playing at home, you can find urban table tennis by POPP all around public spaces in Australia, New York and beyond. Check out their Instagram for specific activations.