We spoke to Tom Clohosy Cole, London based illustrator from Brighton, about his background, his creative process and his views on the role of illustration in branding.
F: Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and what led you to pursue a career in illustration.
T: When I was 17 and studying AS level Art, David Hughes (an illustrator) came to visit my college and gave a talk about illustration. I had never really thought about it as a career until that point, but I loved Art at college and knew I wanted to continue drawing. From there I applied to Kingston University and after a fun 3 years of studying I thankfully managed to find work as a freelance illustrator.
F: You have a very distinctive style. How would you describe it to someone who hasn’t seen your work before?
T: Haha, I’ve always struggled answering this question. I would probably mention that I work digitally, my work tends to be quite colourful and I love drawing landscapes and skies.
F: What are your main sources of inspiration?
T: I really love old landscape painters and people who use light well like Albert Bierstadt or John Martin. I also look at a lot of Photography and Film for inspiration. It’s quite nice to escape into these images and worlds when your stuck in a studio in the city.
F: You are often commissioned to create illustrations for brands and publishers. Could you describe your creative process from the point of receiving a brief to delivering the final piece of work?
T: I work ideas through in a sketchbook before making some neater roughs digitally. Then there is often some back and forth with the client before deciding on a final direction. Then I work up the piece to final and decide on the colours, this is generally the slowest part but its great to see it coming together at last.
F: Increasingly, companies are using illustrations as part of their marketing communications campaigns. What are the main benefits of using illustration to communicate a brand’s message?
T: Illustration is incredibly versatile. Different styles and different mediums can help reinforce a range of messages. As an alternative to photography, sometimes the softer touch of illustration is just what is needed to make a brand feel more natural and human.
F: The design industry has undergone significant transformation since the rise of digital media and new emerging technologies. What do you envision for the future of illustration?
T: I think the line between illustration and animation will continue to blend as we see more and more on the screen.
F: What advice would you give to someone looking to start a career in illustration?
T: In your down time, set yourself the kinds of briefs you would like to be commissioned to do. This can really help to bring in the jobs you want.
F: Who is your favourite illustrator?
T: Eyvind Earle
F: What is your favourite city?
F: Favourite album?
T: Van Morrison – Astral Weeks