'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 21 February 2019

Meet the Illustrator: Tom Parker

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less. Fantasy, animal-inspired oddities. (I think that’s enough!)

What items are an essential part of your creative space? 2B pencil starts EVERYTHING I do. Ink pens, scanner, a Mac (with Photoshop) and Ugee digital pad. But mostly the 2B pencil!

Do you have a favourite artistic medium? Currently, yes. I draw everything in detailed pencil, scan it and colour it digitally with a mix of layers of acrylic or watercolour backgrounds and textures. So it’s a real mix of things and no single medium, but it’s how I’ve done a lot of my work recently.

Name three artists whose work inspires you. Edward Julius Detmold - incredible, unusual creations, and really interesting to explore. Jean-Leon Gerome - a PROPER artist! I totally love old Orientalist art, and Gerome was one of the best.  Ian Miller - lots of creepy dark detailed line work and weird fish machines.

Which artistic period would you most like to visit and why? The 1850’s (ish) to visit Jean-Leon Gerome! He was aggressively against modern art and particularly Impressionism. I’m not a fan, either. Maybe he would exchange some technique secrets if I let him have a moany gossip about all these new kids with their weird drawings.

Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator? I have no idea. It’s just something I’ve always done. Well, drawing. I was a graphic designer for a while, too. So I still do occasional jobs for business. Logos and posters. But I find it mostly dull. Then I became an accidental chef in London for several years until it wore me down and in desperation I quit. Moved back with family for a bit, and tried my hand at self-employment. It took a good 4 years, but right now I am very happy with how things have turned out!
What is your favourite part of the illustration process? The bit where it clicks and you know it’s going to work! Weirdly I don’t like finishing things. Probably why some of my work has so much detail... I just keep going - so it’s not the end.

What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator? This is the question where everybody says 'just keep drawing!' so I’ll say that. No, wait! I know. Don’t feel that you have to stick to one style. Even for a portfolio. I have never so far come across a client/publisher who has said 'Oooh no. Too many styles!'. It’s a really odd thing to advise to maintain a consistent style, in my opinion, but some people do advise it. Also - don’t do long jobs if you don’t like the subject. That can be a reeeeaaaal drag.

Tom Parker is from the City of  Bath in the UK. Now residing in Taipei with his wonderful wife and small dog/pig hybrid, he produces jigsaw puzzles for Pintoo and, most recently, began working for Orbit books creating maps and artwork for epic fantasy novels.
You can follow Tom on facebook here and here.