Art or memes? Times New Roadman creates hilarious paintings out of cultural phenomena

The Bournemouth-based artist describes his work as “words and weird homages to music that came out in my teens.”

8 September 2021
Reading Time
4 minute read

“Is it art, is it memes?” reads the Instagram bio of anonymous painter Times New Roadman. It feels apt for a body of work that follows a simple format, repeated again and again, in which the joke just seems to get funnier. Usually taking the form of a newspaper cover – but sometimes a book cover or Venn diagram – Times New Roadman’s works (or Times as we’ll refer to him in this article) pass comment on shared cultural moments, like the time everyone seemed to be watching Line of Duty and you were lucky if you went ten minutes without hearing about it. Or the fact that Lidl bakery is legitimately the best place to get a croissant in the UK. Or that Cher Lloyd by Cher Lloyd is a bonafide modern classic. And he does it all with a wry understanding of why we all seem to get so attached to these moments – mainly, because they’re very funny.

“I would rather fail at being funny than fail at being serious,” Times tells It’s Nice That. “I don’t really want to create super serious stuff, the odd piece yeah but not everything.” He explains that his work is most likely a reflection of his approach to life as a naturally light-hearted person: “Life probably is too short, and it is easier if you can have a laugh.”

Based in Bournemouth, Times first started painting while at university in Bristol as a “slightly misguided attempt to look edgy/cool/someone who didn’t spend his childhood playing cricket in the New Forest.” But the pursuit didn’t fully take off until he was in Stockholm on a year abroad. A particularly harsh winter that year, Times spent most of his time indoors – not least because going out for beers was so expensive there – and so painting proved a good way to pass the time. After graduating, he created the Instagram page and periodically started posting different pieces until lockdown, when he was furloughed, and the recreation became a daily occurrence. “It was pretty easy in lockdown as there was so much news, so much was happening and yet so little was happening as I couldn’t leave the house, so I just painted loads,” he explains. “Think that basically is how I got to here, wherever here is.”


Times New Roadman (Copyright © Times New Roadman, 2021)

When asked to describe his work, Times jokes that he actually attempted to do this the other day to his friend’s mum – and, needless to say, it was a struggle. “I always feel it’s pretty much the opposite of me: It’s pretty loud, pretty in your face and pretty funny. However, I’d sound weird if I said that aloud to someone, so I just say ‘Words and weird homages to music that came out in my teens’ (and pretend that doesn’t make me sound weird).” One such homage, for example, is to La Roux. When the artist suddenly popped into his day the other day, he used one of his framing devices – a Penguin Modern Classics cover – to “do a weird mini homage”. Another reference that goes some way to explaining Times’ intentions with his work is the time Preston walked off Never Mind the Buzzcocks, and how no one could stop talking about it the next day at school. Describing moments like these as “cultural phenomena and shared experiences you can’t forget,” Times adds, “I think some of my art is pathetically trying to recapture how I felt when Preston walked off.”

It seems there are other tales wrapped up in Times’ pieces and one particularly personal story forms the basis of his favourite artwork to date: “My favourite piece I made for my mate for his birthday a few years ago. We always used to go to this curry house when we were 14 and they would serve us pints and give us a complimentary shot at the end – usually Baileys or Port. Obviously for us as 14-year-olds it was brilliant. I painted a Penguin Classic that just read ‘Selling underage pints’ then the name of the said curry house. I forgot all about it until he said the other day, it brought back weird memories of scranning chicken pakoras and drinking Cobra.” Alongside this, he’s particularly fond of the “breaking news that states ‘Owning Plants is not a Personality’ as it’s really not, I have too many friends who think owning five potted plants is the zenith of existing.”

Visually and conceptually, you can draw out references to artists like David Shrigley or movements like pop art and situationism throughout Times’ portfolio, but he explains his biggest inspiration is a man called Eddie Argos – with a name like that, how could he not be? “He was the frontman of a band called Art Brut,” Times says. “They made really jokes punk music and he made art to go along with it. All of his work was really rudimentary and so unapologetically silly that I basically fell in love with it.”

Having amassed an impressive and loyal following on Instagram over the past year or so, there are exciting new developments in Times’ future that will see him step further out of the social media sphere. His first print will be available through Electric Gallery in November and there’s another collaborative print with artist Heath Kane in the works. “Beyond that,” he concludes, “I’ve been drowning with commissions and have a few more to start on. I’ve also got some larger projects down the line – so I am slowly taking over the world from sunny old Bournemouth.”

GalleryTimes New Roadman (Copyright © Times New Roadman, 2021)

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Times New Roadman (Copyright © Times New Roadman, 2021)

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About the Author

Ruby Boddington

Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.

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