Thomas Howes

Hello Thomas, how are you feeling today?
Hello! I'm feeling pretty good. I've just finished my end of year show which went smoothly and now I've  got to try and juggle a normal 9-5 job and being an illustrator all at once. It's going to be a hecktic few months!

Could you tell us a bit about your industry?
That's a bit of a tough one, I still feel like I'm finding my feet and I keep learning new things. I think illustrators have quite a good deal these days, the internet has made it easy for people to get feedback on work, network etc.

90% of the feedback I get is through Flickr, it's a brilliant platform for artists to use. Even some of the big names in British illustration use Flickr as the first place to upload their work and get feedback and you see people's progression from small time illustrator to getting big jobs it's really nice. I remember looking at Olly Moss's work before he really got huge and thinking 'this is great'. The next thing I hear is that he's been commissioned by Empire magazine. So yeah, the internet can be brilliant for young artists. Obviously it can have huge drawbacks (copyright infringement, etc) but I'm yet to experience anything that bad! I am lucky that one of my tutors at Uni is an Illustrator (Matthew the Horse, if you want to look him up!) and his advice has given me a big glimpse into what the life of a working illustrator is like.

At the minute I's still a small time Illustrator so haven't got to grips with the industry full-on but it's something I can't wait to get into.

What's your latest project?
I don't usually go in for the big pre-planned projects unless someone asks me to. Most of the time I just draw and then see where it goes, planning isn't my strong point. At the minute I'm getting back into painting so we'll see where that goes. However for my final major project I made my first comic 'Revenge of Bald Head' which was fun and a bit of a learning curve.

What/Who inspires you?
Films, television and comics are probably the biggest influences in what I do. I think humour has a lot to do with it too. I love comedy and try and make even my darkest stuff have an element of humour. Again, the thing with the internet is you can always find something that takes your fancy. I've been using sites like Flickr since I first started drawing and I suppose it's those first few really great Illustrators I found on there that helped shape what I do.

What are your future aspirations?
To not be on the dole.

Where would you like to be in five years time?
I'd quite like to have a dog by then. Really, I just hope to still have a love for illustration. I hope having a 9-5 job won't kill that. I'm sure I'll manage it, if you really want things then you have to struggle a bit and plenty of other people have had to do it.

What advice would you give to students in creative industries?
Don't expect University or College to just set you up. One of my biggest regrets is that I didn't network enough or talk to people, I just thought it would fall into place. Unfortunately you do have to work hard, if you don't do the work then it just won't happen. Do what makes you happy then anything else you get out of that is just a huge bonus.

Any other comments?
If you are about to start University, I have two very important pieces of advice;
1) You cannot rely on a diet of 8p noodles.
2) Steal as much free stuff as you can.

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