Bob Timmons is an Endangered Marine Animal Artist & Animal Activist. The Artist for the Ocean is painting the plight of the ocean & its animals. Through his powerful awareness – art exposes stories of worldwide marine animal decline and abuse, and critical issues of ocean health. He is a fearless, vocal advocate for animals everywhere. Bob also combines the arts and sciences in his advocacy; as an environmental sciences graduate he integrates knowledge and passion in his writings, paintings, campaigns, and public outreach.
Bob took the time to share his thoughts and tells us some of what he does and why…
Where do you live and with whom?
I currently live with my wife and fur babies in Toronto – Canada.
What is your job and with which organisation?
I have a job that pays the bills and I sell my art however my real work the past 2 and a half years was being the Volunteer Ontario Regional Coordinator for Sea Shepherd and running the Toronto Chapter. I served as a Cove Guardian in Japan for two seasons in 2011 and recently I resigned my position to focus on my art and some other actions for Land & Ocean animals.
And your previous jobs? What were you doing?
Throughout my 4 years of activism I have been with many organizations as a passionate/compassionate
volunteer filled with energy and time to expose the atrocities out in the ocean. I have been the Director of
International Campaigns for Animal Rights Kollective (ARK II), a board member for Oceanic Defense,
founded Ocean Activists United – International Grassroots Action, the Ontario Regional
Coordinator for Sea Shepherd, and most recently became the Public Relations for Refuge RR for Horses and Co-founded an Anti-Captivity non-profit called Awakening Minds In Education.
This new Non-profit (AMIE) has been endorsed by Ric O’Barry of Dolphin Project and aims to reward educational institutes for not supporting animal captive entertainment industries. It is in the beginning stages however I can say we will have a program called “Positive Re-direction Program” and I feel it will take off globally!
When you were a little kid, what job did you dream of having?
When I was a child I was born on an island on the east coast of Canada called Cape Breton however at the age of 2 years old I moved to the Land-Locked Province of Ontario. Here I recall going into our local Humane Society and seeing all the animals in cages and I wanted to do something for them. I thought either a career in an animal area or just buy a farm and take them all. The animals we lived with were always the local stray cats that people abandoned and it always started off feeding them in the front door and in time they moved in and never left.
Bob Timmons is one of the people showcased in the short film touring around all the little Movie Festivals called “Missions of Mermaids”.
How did you get involved in marine conservation?
A movie called “Sharkwater” opened my eyes in 2007 regarding the shark finning inhumane issues happening out in the global oceans. It was here my natural artistic talent started me on a journey of passion and brush to research and paint the stories of our voiceless marine animals and the plight of the ocean itself. From here my painting turned to only the ocean animals while my street action was for all animals, environment, and people.
You can buy prints of Bob Timmons artwork at http://bob-timmons.fineartamerica.com/
Why are you so dedicated when there seems to be so many obstacles?
Being very new still to activism regarding the ocean I have had a different type of life then the rest. I grew up having to fight to survive my neighbourhood and city. I am too well known for standing my ground even if it looks like I am going to lose. Now that energy is to fight for the voiceless and to stand my ground for them and their lives. The obstacles are imaginary walls that in 4 years I have seen many come down and as the days go on I learn more and more about how to take down the rest.
What really annoys you regarding marine conservation?
What really annoys me is that the governments of the world do not take it as an importance to the survival of their species. Living day to day and not for the future of our children. I stand for more than our own species however the reality is that the government is here to protect the people and to do this takes more than creating jobs, it takes the care of conserving the oceans, fresh water, forests, etc.
Everything is connected and everything affects the ocean in the end since its majority of the planet’s surface and subsurface.
Have you ever been criticized or harassed because of your strong beliefs?
Of course! haha! I actually enjoy it since I am fearless after the way I grew up. I consider it noise and I just blank it out. Almost all of the criticism is online and never in person LOL!
What’s the most difficult aspect of your job?
The most difficult aspect of using all of my free time for volunteering to be an advocate for animals is the reliability of support. I have created a large amount of fundraisers, protests, marches, travels all for animals and the ocean and the stress of cancellations, no=shows, and not raising much money for the cause is extremely difficult.
And the best?
The best is when you get the wins! My first campaign back in 2008 was against a company named Holista and they had a product being sold only in Canada called “100% Shark Cartilage”. Within 9 months and a large network I formed and became apart of helped educate them and shut down this product. Most recently I was apart of a handful of great people and we won a campaign we started to shutdown Atlantic City Pier from trying to bring back the Horse Diving at 40 feet in the air. So there are some great things happening.
Have you ever felt discouraged or felt like giving up?
I believe every few months I have my 3 day of rants from build up of many factors. I have realized that my meditation with my painting and yelling through a mega=phone doesn’t get all of my stress relieved.
However I do not give up and I actually feel stronger and much more clear-minded to create new thoughts of action to get around the obstacles in my way.
What is the one thing a person can do that you think can make a difference?
Well, one thing someone could do to make a difference is just research and learn about the atrocities the ocean and the planet for that matter is facing. From that one action it will create the drive of energy within to venture out and create the difference the world needs. Some ideas for the readers could be supporting an organization by volunteering, creating fund-raisers, supporting street activism, beach cleaning, speaking at schools, churches, to family. The ideas are endless.
What or who inspires you to continue your work?
I am fueled by the horrors I see from videos and in person. I am inspired by the people around me that speak about the issues intelligently like my 10 year old daughter. I watch many great leaders like Paul Watson, Ric O’Barry, Sylvia Earle to name a few on how they have survived public criticism and ridicule to still be actively fighting for what they believe in and want changed. And when we win, no matter what organization names it theirs, its a win for us all that fight for positive change.
Do you have a funny or inspirational story that you’d like to share?
I have been lucky enough to be around the ocean and see many great animals submerge from the depths however my daughter’s first time to a farm animal sanctuary was the best. We went to RR Horse Refuge in Alexandria, Ontario and here there are 700 animals that survive because of one woman and the donations she receives. Well my daughter ran around meeting all the animals and I had not seen her for a while.
Then a yell from the barn “DAD!” and I looked and she wanted me to come and meet her best friend. So I went up to the barn and she was so excited to meet this 300 pound pig named Grisley. Well Grisley was a shy guy and had took off out of the barn by the time we got back. We found him out in the field hiding behind some weeds and sitting on his bottom. My daughter walked up slowly to him and put her hand out to his nose. It was the most incredible visual since he was well over 300 pounds and she was an 8 year old 60 pound child. A photo was captured and my daughter hung out with him most of the day.
Then she met the horses that were running full tilt towards her and with no fear of these 1500 pound animals charging her she raised her hands and smiled while the horses ran their noses right into her hands. I was truly amazed. Children can teach us adults a lot if we just slow down our busy lives and minds and listen to their innocence of compassion.
If the world ends this year, as it’s supposed to, what do you hope you’ll have achieved, both personally and professionally by the end of 2012?
Haha! Well the Mayan’s calendar is said to be the end but they didn’t say how. Not sure what I hoped to have achieved by the end of the year but I do know that my actions today will not stop with the fear of the world ending. To me its a man=made fear since the world goes in cycles and I am extremely happy to be apart of such changes that only come once in approximately 5,000 years. If it ends then it was meant to be but if not then my efforts now will be even stronger by the end of the year.
If you were given the chance to spend a day with anyone from history, who would it be and why? What would you do together?
Becoming a painter was not in my mind until the problems of the ocean came apparent to my life. I have been a natural artist my whole life but never learned about art history in school because I would rather draw and sketch. Now I am learning about other artists and Salvador Dali’s name kept being brought up to me since people thought my paintings were similar style = Surrealism. I researched him and was extremely impressed to be compared to such greatness. He was a man that stirred up much controversy on a global scale through his art. I would have loved to meet Dali and watch him paint, listen to his rants regarding politics or just local banter. He would be an interesting person to learn how to get the message through art out to the public on an international scale.
Facebook or Twitter? Which do you prefer?
I prefer Facebook for networking and creating events to get the masses out the information needed for joining the action. However I am learning the power of Twitter which is great too!
My facebook page is linked to twitter and everyone gets to see what I post.
Your website: www.ArtistfortheOcean.com
Your Facebook link: www.facebook.com/ArtistfortheOcean1
Your Twitter link: www.twitter.com/ArtistforOcean