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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

An Interview with Illustrator Tom Clohosy Cole

The super talented illustrator Tom Clohosy Cole graduated from Kingston University in 2011, and has since built an impressive portfolio of clients. Find out more about his career and inspiration in this exclusive interview.

Written by Amelia Gregory

tomclohosycole_Financial_Times_editorial_2

Financial Times editorial.

Since I discovered the unique and wonderful work of Tom Clohosy Cole at his Kingston University graduate show in 2011 his career has unsurprisingly gone from strength to strength. I caught up with Tom to find out what makes him tick…

What was the best bit about growing up in Brighton and was it a conscious decision to leave town to study? (I hear there is a good university there…)
The best thing about Brighton has to be the Palace Pier. I thinks its good to move away from home and try out new places, I applied to a few different Universities including Brighton but chose Kingston as it was somewhere new and the course had a good reputation.

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Your graduate showcase was termed around insurance and I can’t help noticing that you have recently done some commercial work for an insurance company – was there a direct link between the two, and have you done a lot of work for the insurance industry?!
Ha yes well spotted. My degree show work was a comment on the stranger and more extreme end of insurance so its funny that I was commissioned to do some work for an insurance company. It’s only been the one job and I don’t imagine that will be an area that my work will feature in much more, but you never know??

tomclohosycole_Financial_Times_book_review

Who do you share your studio space with and where is it based?
I share a studio with Robert Hunter, a brilliant illustrator who I’m sure you’ll all know, and Elliot Dear, a very talented director who has been responsible for some great music videos and short films, and recently the John Lewis Christmas Ad. We’re up in Dalston.

tomclohosycole_Wired_Life_On_Mars_

Can you tell us more about your Life on Mars novel? What is it all about?
Sure. Its about a group of people who agree to participate in a ‘Big Brother’ style reality show on Mars, whilst also learning about the planet and testing its potential to support life. As the show becomes less popular on Earth the funding is cut and the participants are left to fend for themselves. The story was written by Andrea Curiat, and was for Wired Italy.

tomclohosycole_THRONE_Album_Artwork

Throne album artwork.

Space seems to be a theme that runs throughout your work – what inspires this passion and what is the most exciting thing you have learned about space on your research travels?
I find space fascinating, probably because I know so little about it and because it’s so vast. It’s sometimes nice to put everyday problems in the context of space and be reminded how small they are. One of my favourite space stories is that of the golden record. It was sent into space containing all sorts of greetings and sounds from earth. The spacecraft that holds the record is still travelling further away from our planet into the unknown in the hope of being found by another intelligent life form.

What is the process of working with a band on imagery?
With the project i’ve just finished the band are having a fantastic music video created by their lead singer Nicos Livesey and animator Tom Bunker. We decided to tie the artwork in with the video so it uses the same palette and I recreated elements from the animation frames. The process overall was collaborative, there’s lots of communication between you and the band as its really important that the feel of the artwork reflects them and their music. Keep an eye out for their video; its embroidered on denim frames.

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You also work in animation, how do you work across mediums and is there a lot of cross pollination?
Yes they constantly cross pollinate. When I’m not working in illustration I like to be trying my hand in animation, it’s a lot of fun. I think more and more they are becoming one and it’s good to keep up with things as much as possible.

You have a very identifiable style, where does your inspiration come from and how do you create your pieces?
I like to get my inspiration from all sorts of places, but try to avoid looking at other illustrators. I like looking at the work of D.O.P’s and photographers and painters. I create my pieces using a mixture of hand drawn and digital elements, all ending up being arranged and coloured in the computer.

Tom Clohosy Cole Space Race

Space Race.

In what way did Kingston University prepare you for the world of work?
Kingston puts its emphasis on ideas, rather than the technical side. It was very important leaning how to ‘think’ about what I’m doing, especially in an industry where you have to be so adaptable.

Who are your favourite type of clients and what are your favourite projects to work on?
I always love doing book covers. My favourite projects to work on are Picture Books, it’s great having 6 months to work on one thing and loose yourself in it.

Tom Clohosy Cole Nobrow issue 6

Tom Clohosy Cole Nobrow issue 6.

You have worked extensively with Nobrow, how did this relationship come about and what have you got coming up next?
We met at my degree show and I was lucky enough to be asked to contribute to their magazine. Coming up next is a big map of London…

tomclohosycole_WALL_book_preview

Wall book preview.

I see you have a new book due out this October… it all looks very intriguing. Can you share any preview details with us?
Yes it comes out on October the 1st. Exciting. It’s my first full picture book and it’s published by Templar Books. The book is called ‘WALL’ and is the story of a young boy who’s father is stuck on the other side of the Berlin Wall. I spent most of 2013 beavering away at it and I’m excited for it to come out, it feels like so long ago that I made it now but we’ve been waiting for the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down to release it.

What have been the high points and the low points of pursuing a professional career in illustration, to date?
High Points: Being told I can make ‘Space Race’ and ‘WALL’. Getting a studio. Working on animation jobs with lots of friends of mine.
Low Points: Loosing Pitches, especially when you’ve already decided what your going to spend the money on in your head. Working from home. No longer printmaking.

Thankyou Tom Clohosy Cole!

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