Tom Bagshaw is a force to be reckoned with. Kraft, GQ, Sony, the BBC and publishing companies like Random House and Scholastic have all utilized the artwork of his. His last exhibit, Yokai Dreams, was an exploration into some of the incredible Japanese folklore surrounding their creatures of legend, its an amazing subject and extremely rich in terms of individual characters and stories. Many of which are still well known in Japan today, but in the West its a largely unknown curiosity. I sit down with him to talk about his new studio, his take on Japanese folklore, and life in the UK. Read below for the full story…
As an artist myself I think illustrating hair is the hardest thing to do on the human body. Could you share some tips on creating natural looking hair in your illustrations?
Tom: Weirdly enough, I just did some hints and tips for Imagine FX on this very subject! Hair is probably simpler than people think- its just difficult to sidestep the trap of trying to every single hair. Concentrate on shape and volume to build up a hairstyle, keep it quite loose to start with- its easy to tighten up as you go. Once the shape is sorted look at lighting, generally hair tends to have some shine to it- add high lights and low lights to give it form.
I actually purchased your print ‘Kuchisake Onna’. Have you by any chance seen the Asian Horror film ‘Slit Mouthed Woman‘?
Tom: I havent seen it but im going to try and see it now 😉
What exactly is it about Asian culture that you find so inspirational or interesting that you incorporate so much of it into your art?
Tom: I’ve always had an interest in Asian culture but more specifically ghost stories, legends and folktales- not just specific to Asia. All cultures tend to have these stories but for my show i had recently been looking at a lot of the stories from Japan and theres such an amazing wealth of tales throughout the orient i really wanted to do my own take on some of the characters that i liked and bring their stories to a new audience, obviously from a western/European perspective.
How was it growing up in England and moving around so much? Did any of these experience fuel your creativity growing up?
Tom: I’m not sure how much it affected my creativity, it certainly made me appreciate the ability to create something- no matter where you are!
5 years from now, how do you think computers will progress the digital art game?
Tom: I really can’t say- the tech moves so fast, what designers, illustrators- creatives in general are doing now was totally possible 5 years ago- and more importantly it was being done, its just that as the tech goes forward your workflow improves- machines get faster so painting becomes easier, files become easier to manage etc. Apart from the prices coming down a bit i think thats how it will continue to move forwards, just general improvements.. unless someone comes up with something totally ground breaking of course- you never know 😉
I read an article in Design Week where you mentioned the costs involved in using tech to create artwork. Could you give us some insight on some of the costs involved?
Tom: I just think that when youre starting out its a bit of a minefield in terms of what you think you should set up with. Really at the end of the day you can run most apps like photoshop, painter- even 3D packages, off a pretty basic machine now- its down to your own budget. But, to run things effectively you do need to look at as good a processor as you can buy, RAM, HD space, graphics cards, monitors, tablet, all these- if youre making your own machine up can start bumping up the price, then when you look at the software- it can really start to put a dent in the wallet!
How’s the new house? Have you got settled into your new work space?
Tom: Don’t like the area I’m living, so we had to move from our previous place so it wasn’t an ideal move. Still looking for something else- but my workspace is fine- as long as I can get my machine setup with a desk, i’ts fine ;).
What can we expect to see from you throughout Summer 2011?
Tom: Few group shows im involved with and then a big joint show in August with David Stoupakis at Corey Helford Gallery, David will be showing his incredible work on the main ground floor while i will have a smaller show upstairs. Then a joint show with Craww at London Miles in December- pretty full on year! In terms of subject matter im not concentrating on Yokia- more creatures of myth from a variety of cultures.
I know you often take commission pieces. Any horror stories about an uncooperate client? If so, how do you deal with it?
Tom: So many horror stories… but im not going to go there 😉 Just have to grin and bear it- at the end of the day its their buck and if they wont listen to reason then you can only push so far.
Lastly, any advice for any struggling artists out there?
Tom: Keep going- practice, get your work out there and in front of people but be careful not to be so pushy as to piss people off!
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