Artist Spotlight: Tom Handy


Written by Don't Panic
27 Friday 27th February 2015

"I grew up on a farm in Gloucestershire and when I wasn't running around outside with no shoes on I would play with lego or draw. It was all I ever liked doing (apart from lego). I'm now studying Illustration at Bristol UWE and really enjoying myself. The way I work is by visualising what I'm going to draw in 3D components, building it up in my head and then constructing it on paper like a lego sculpture. The basic architectural nature of lego is largely what my working methods are based on.

I have also adopted an isometric style over the past tw years which I think has really boosted my drawing. I've even made my own isometric paper on Adobe Illustrator and printed it out very faintly to use as a guide. As for what I draw with, I usually sketch out my plan with a hard pencil (I hate anything with a B on it) and then once I've worked it out I ink the lines with a combination of fine liner and brush pen.

After that I scan it in (the scanner doesn't pick up the faint isometric lines) and then colour it on Photoshop. I like the way It works, as I get to have a collection of polished digital colour images while having a big stack of black and white line drawings with the 'bones' of the isometric paper still visible. 

A big inspiration is 3D form and shape. Anything that I consider an interesting form or satisfying physical object may influence what I draw. I also watch a lot of anime, so there's definitely cultural influences - I like a lot of the Japanese aesthetic. I keep a sort of image bank on tumblr, purely of things that visually interest me - so that might be a better indicator of what i take inspiration from. 

I plan to use 3D modelling/rendering software in the future, as I cannot help but see the possibilities screaming at me. Basically It seems obvious to me that the next logical step for my style is to make it physically exist rather than on paper or on a screen, and I think 3D printing could work really well for that. Since being in Bristol I've become part of a couple of things, namely Super Kitchen and Dred Collective. I do work for some of their events and releases and I really love it, so I'd like to keep doing that sort of thing.

My favourite piece of work that I've done is the Super Kitchen Set Menu EP cover. I think it was the first time I actually utilised my style to genuinely illustrate something - a lot of the time my drawings have randomly chosen content merged together, but for this image I actually had to make it work with the whole concept of the collective. I'm pleased with it for a number of reasons, firstly because it is a visual invitation to "take a seat" and dig in to the banquet that is the EP. There are a lot of parallels between music/djing and food/cooking that I try to draw from, and I think this is the best one so far. I like putting my images in black space, its never really about the context."

For more of Tom's work, head to his tumblr.

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