Ever since the age of fourteen, this week’s fun-loving Urban Beardsman, Tim Melideo was certain he would be a musician. Starting out on the drums and moving over to guitar, he played in several jovially named punk and metal bands such as: We Sell Steak, The Poopshooters, and Who’s The Mayonaise (just to name a few). Little did he know that his passion for playing music would lead down a different artistic path that would forever change his world to this day.
Devoting all time and energy to music in his early twenties, Melideo recalls how things began to segue into a new artistic pursuit. “I thought music was what I going to do with my life, but when around twenty I took my first photo class and fell in love with it. My early photos however were primarily centered on music, or inspired by my life as a struggling musician. After a few too many heartbreaks with unfocused band members, I finally decided to give up on being in a band and quickly shifted to making photography my main focus.”
Melideo received his BFA in photography at the end of 2008 and started his MFA program in New York the following year. Once that was achieved he hasn’t looked back and is killing the photography scene; featured as a PDN Photo Annual in 2011, a Surface Magazine Avant Guardian Finalist in 2010, along with a hefty Instagram following @timmelideo.
Originally shooting a lot of black and white in his beginnings, Melideo later expanded into color and shares how his work evolved into the vivid style popularly recognized today. “I transitioned into shooting more landscapes and later paired it down to basic shapes, color, lines, and compositions. I was also really into graphic design, which heavily influenced my style. Throughout the course of fine-tuning my artwork I was also honing in on my fashion and lifestyle photography which evolved as my skills continue to improve.”
Through the course of perfecting his craft and making a name for himself, Melideo has observed some interesting traits in what his audience is partial to verses his own favorite selections. “I don’t really cater my blog or social media in any specific way. I treat them more as a way to post a diary of what I saw that day—and I post a lot to Instagram, but it’s really interesting to see what my most popular posts are. They are rarely the ones that I’m really happy with.” (He laughs). “They much prefer color, pretty things, food, etc. However, I really get excited when certain people who follow me like certain photos, because I respect them and their opinion, so it reinforces that what I’m doing is good—maybe.”
Regardless of the difference of opinions as to which illustrations are his best; he explains the most rewarding aspect from is simply from the recognition received overall. “I love getting paid to do what I love and to be respected for what I create. It’s a humbling feeling to be told the work you’re making is awesome, and I’m really grateful for having lots of free time to travel and create. Aside from that, being trusted and respected by clients who hire me for magazines that I’ve never met, but reach out simply based on my website alone is a great feeling. I love that I’m trusted to make great work that represents their story as they want it.”
On the flip side, being in today’s digital app-based era, Melideo shares one “challenge” he’s experienced as the rise of smartphone photographers. “It’s made so many people think they are trained “photographers,” verses the people who have devoted more of their life (and money) to the art. This new breed that’s only trained for a year or so will work for very negotiable rates because they also (typically) have a day job. It makes it much more difficult for the photographers whose only method of income is their photography. I’m not saying they cannot be great photographers after such a short time learning to shoot, but that percentage tends to be quite low.”
Although smartphone photographers are now heavily integrated in the photography world, Melideo shares a little advice for anyone aspiring to follow a similar path, “Nothing happens overnight—so be patient as it takes time. Network and make friends with other artists, and don’t be afraid to approach people you want to work for. The worst they can say is no.”
Accompanying Melideo throughout his photography journey is one photogenic beard, and he playfully reveals, “The first time I really decided to grow and keep the beard was when my wife (girlfriend at the time) went to study abroad for two months. I decided not to shave it until she came back—and I didn’t. I also became a vegetarian at that time too—both have stuck. I’ve had it for about twelve years and pretty sure it’s here to stay. I think I look like a pervert without it—and I’m sure some would agree!”
Through the course of maintaining his beard, Melideo explains his method is typically just a shower followed by a dab of Beardbrand Beard Oil. “I’ve been using it lately since I’ve grown my beard longer and have been trying to comb it. I usually keep it pretty trim, but I’ve been letting it grow out longer for a month or so now. However, I’m all self-taught when it comes to grooming it, and It’s not going very well so far—I’m a mess,” Melideo jokes.
Kidding aside, Melideo shares there’s nothing but serious business ahead when it comes to his work. “I would love to have a legitimate gallery show for my fine artwork, and also publish a book. That would really make my whole schooling feel legitimized. I also just want to continue elevating work with better commercial clients.”
As honest an candid as his work, is Melideo’s personality. In closing, he shares a few parting words of wisdom, “Follow me. Hire me (or don’t). Grow a beard. Have a cocktail. Don’t be an asshole. Listen to Iron Maiden. Watch Seinfeld, and Have a donut.”