TJ: Old fashioned, possibly?
CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
TJ: As a child I was obsessed with the colour illustrations in old books such as The Land Where Tales Are Told , I must have been well known for my love of books and was given quite a few by elderly neighbours. I remember flicking through the stories, looking for the glossy colour pages. The images were watercolour, in lovely muted colours. I particularly liked the blue, which I use quite often in my own work. My father bought me books by Alan Lee and Brian Froud from a young age too and their art has been a huge influence. I also draw inspiration from theatre and film, and imagery in novels, I quite often find myself rushing for the sketchbook after a particularly good read.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork?
TJ: It depends on the project, some illustration work leaves little room for creativity the brief is so tight. But if I have free reign I like to read the story a few times, sketching out the scenes that stand out in my mind, go back to the text, check my facts and so on, then work from there. I make a plan, so there is structure and a coherent cohesive narrative in the images. I will use models if I need to once I’m happy with the composition and then get painting. With work I create for the love of it, there isnt much creative process, its quite often an impulse, I have an idea that niggles and gnaws until I exorcise it and get it down on paper. I usually have a good idea of what I want to achieve before I pick up a pencil. It’s probably not a very sensible way of working and it does backfire from time to time, but I’m not a very sensible person!
CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?
TJ: I hope people enjoy looking at them, without feeling they need to find a meaning or justification. If you knew me well you could probably see little signposts of my life in my work, certainly in the portfolio pieces, but at University I felt inadequate, my work was so superficial compared to many of my contemporaries, a bit too ‘pretty picture, so what?’, but now I embrace the pleasure.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?
TJ: Frustration! I still have a day job, so I spend days trying to focus and not get carried away with the ideas gnawing away in the back of my head, then evenings trying to get as much done as possible! I don’t feel like I am a proper artist, yet!
CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?
TJ: With illustration a plan is essential, but creating my own work is impulsive, it may not be the right way to work, but if it’s inside I have to get it out! That may seem a bit strange when you consider the work I produce, it hardly looks like the exorcism of demons, but I do obsess.
CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?
TJ: Believe in yourself, I’m still working on that. I think its really important to look around at other artists, old and new, it feeds the imagination and the soul, but sometimes its difficult not to be swept away and lose your own path.
CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?
TJ: I would say that everyone’s personal taste is of highest importance to themselves! I think its fantastic we are all so different, universal approval is not always a good thing.
CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?
TJ: If we are talking practical difficulty I would have to say the commercial aspect. But a wise man told me the more time I spend working my 9-5 to pay the bills the less time I have to paint and I need to start tipping that balance. I’m trying!
CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?
TJ: Painting! The hours that are spent at my desk when I lose track of time, don’t realise my hands and legs have long seized up and its gone dark outside. I feel so very fortunate to have that luxury.
CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artist’s that inspire you in any way?
TJ: So many! I can spend hours in galleries, I especially enjoy the work of Pre Raphaelites and their followers. I have a huge collection of illustrated books, the internet is great for finding new artists but there’s something special about books. The last art book I bought was a collection of the fable covers by James Jean, I really admire his skill and compositions. This week I have particularly enjoyed pouring over work by Levi Pinfold, his work is amazing!
CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?
TJ: Technology is fantastic! Never before have artists had the opportunity to reach such a wide audience so easily and effectively. Websites and social media are a wonderful tool, as is the technology that enables us to capture the images to upload.
CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?
TJ: I don’t think it allows you to view the world differently necessarily, but it allows you to express your view and present them to the world.
CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?
TJ: I am shamefully un-travelled! Its one of my to-do’s this year! I am hoping to visit Venice and Rome soon. My answer might be different after I have been there but for now I’d say London, visually I enjoy the architecture, the galleries, the markets and the underground, urban landscapes facinate me as at home I am surrounded by fields and mountains!
CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?
TJ: Too many, I might not have travelled enough but I read too much! The last book I read that I really enjoyed was The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, the imagery is wonderful.
CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?
TJ: Technically I am always aspiring to be better, but if we are talking career goals, I would really like to illustrate an elaborate picture book, perhaps fairytales for grown ups, that would be wonderful.
CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?
TJ: An existance without art just doesn’t work for me, its a source of huge frustration, if I were able go work 9-5, watch tv and go to bed I’d probably be a much calmer person. But I can’t do that, I am a visual person, everything I have control over is occupied with aesthetics I find pleasing, I can’t help it.
CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your artwork?
TJ: I am just happy you like it! Thank you for inviting me to answer these questions!
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