30 Years of Tim Cotterill, aka the Frogman

30 Years of Tim Cotterill, aka the Frogman

In 2020, Tim Cotterill, aka the Frogman, celebrated 30 years of beautiful bronze sculptures! The occasion was marked in style, of course, with the release of the dazzling Zenith, sporting a vibrant mottled red frog, showcasing an uplifting vision of hope and passion to overcome all challenges. Clearly symbolising the career achievements of the artist, Zenith is a must have for die-hard Frogman fanatics everywhere! 

Throughout these 30 years, Tim Cotterill’s gorgeous creatures have captured the hearts of collectors worldwide. The artist now known as the Frogman brought you his first frog in 1990. Tim takes up the story…

“I was born in 1950 in Leicester, in the UK. It’s a great city, but back then, very much a working man’s town, with no galleries or art shops to speak of.

“As a young man, I did a six-year apprenticeship at an engineering factory. At the time, of course, I didn’t think I’d learned anything, but looking back, it was actually a great learning curve for me. It taught me how to get along with people I had nothing in common with for eight hours a day, and how to use all the machines: lathes and saws and so on. Those six years gave me a really strong foundation for life.

“From 1972, I started coming to America on vacation – every few years, when I managed to save up enough money, I’d come for two weeks. 

“I was already making my own bird sculptures. I’d made friends with a wonderful sculptor called John Jagger. In 1988, John bought a mountaintop and was building a house that he wanted facing in white granite – and guess who did it for him? 

“I came out to the central coast of California, and laid 600 tonnes of granite. That was when I got the bug – I just had to come here. 

“Two years later, I turned 40 and hit my midlife crisis. I’d lost direction; my life was a bit of a mess; my marriage was a bit wobbly. I’d had a fantastic time in Leicester, but I felt like I’d sucked all the juice out of it, like an orange.

“So, I jumped on a plane. I brought some sculptures and did some street shows with John. I’d never seen anything like them before – we didn’t have anything like that in England! But over here, in Florida, Chicago, Texas, they’d block the streets off, allocate you a space and over a weekend, you’d sell whatever art you had. 

“It was exactly what I needed. We bought this big truck together and I fitted it all out with bunks, and we’d go off and have adventures – it cleared my head and really got me focused and believing that I could fill the void. 

“My sculptures were huge. I was using my welding tools, each piece taking days: I was getting burned out. And there was John, making one piece then taking it to a foundry and saying ‘make me a hundred of these’. I thought, that’s smart – what can I do? I tried it with my birds, but they were too big, too heavy, too expensive.

“John had generously said that I could stay with him for a year – and suddenly, that year was up. I found a garage in Venice Beach – and I started to make frogs.

“I started taking them to street shows and it was fantastic – everywhere I went they sold like hot cakes and eventually, galleries were coming and asking if they could sell them. 

“It was like a virus. I had a map on the wall above my desk, with pins in it wherever I got a new gallery. It was so exciting – for an artist to have that level of acceptance!

“I’d get up at 6am and started getting things packed, and by 10am, I’d get everything shipped – armies of frogs marching across America!

“But I had no team. I’d tried every foundry in California, and they all promised me the earth, but didn’t come through. Then one did, and it’s the one I’m still with to this day.

“I was so high on life –– the galleries said they’d never worked with an artist like this before! They called it a phenomenon.

“After the first 10 years, I said to the foundry owner: ‘I can’t cope any more, I’m exhausted.’

“He said: ‘Tim, you just create frogs and give them to me.’

“So from then on, they did all the hard work, and all I had to do was design – it really cut me loose. One year, I made 21 original designs. From me doing everything, they had over 150 employees – just working on my frogs! In one year, we shipped tens of thousands.

“I loved Venice Beach, and a piece of dirt up an alley came on the market: and I bought it. It had an adjoining run-down building: a year later that came on the market, and I bought it too – my own bit of America!

“I’ve added my beautiful tropical garden, and now I live at the front, work in the middle and have my big toy box at the back,” says Tim, find out more about his epic vehicles on our ‘Rocket Man’ blog.

“These days, I’m down to about nine designs a year. I do sketches first – and the clearer my vision, the quicker it comes together. The 30th anniversary piece, I did about 20 sketches, and it took about a month to get just right. 

“Bronze is one of the best sculpture mediums on the planet. It’ll be around for centuries – they’re still finding incredible bronzes that are thousand of years old, buried in the ground. When people buy my frogs, they’re not just buying something to sit on the shelf. They’ll be around for generations – long after I’ve gone, they’ll be on Antiques Roadshow with the story of how I went to America!”

The Artmarket Gallery are proud to stock an unrivalled collection of Tim Cotterill’s bronze sculptures. With opportunities to purchase bespoke commissions and extremely rare pieces – get in touch with one of our expert art consultants today and find the perfect addition to your home.

For further information please contact our Art Consultants who would be happy to help with any of your queries.

Call: 01482 876 003
Email: gallery@artmarket.co.uk
WhatsApp: 07497771054

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