Interview :: Tom Southernwood

posted by George Wheeler February 20, 2014

Recent graduate of Nottingham Trent, Tom Southernwood has developed his own style of infinitely detailed vector drawing. Often producing panoramic scenes featuring huge production lines and an array of tiny characters, Tom creates worlds taking every working cog into consideration. These scenes are cleverly applied to branding, typography and promotional posters. Combined with a great selection of colour palettes, this playful, narrative style of illustration is a success. ‘The Robot Catalogue’ is a personal favourite. inventing a different job skilled robot for every letter of the alphabet, Tom imagines a world where robots perform all our jobs for us. Put together as a book, the catalogue becomes something quite believable.

I had a chat with Tom about his work:

1.Vector drawing is used a lot in your work and to great effect. what attracts you to this medium?

The thing I love about vector drawing is the accuracy and detail that can be achieved. It allows you to draw with such detail and precision that you can rarely achieve with other techniques. This is something that has allowed style of illustration to both develop and flourish.

2.What direction would you like to take your work in over the next year?

In the next year I would really like to get into animation and app design. Although I have used techniques such as stop frame animation in the past, I would like to apply it to my recent vector based illustrations. I feel my drawings could also work really well within some form of interactive game, so watch this space.

3.The hugely detailed scenes that often feature in your work could go on forever. where do you start? what’s the general process behind them?

The process usually starts with a simple idea explored on paper, who are the characters? What’s the purpose of the scene? How might it look? From there I choose a colour palette and begin messing around on Illustrator. I love adding tiny details into these scenes. Adding components to individual characters such as tools to give them an individual role within the illustration. Then as I’m working, little scenes develop within the illustration. My latest illustration project is shaping up as my most optimistic yet. It involves space rockets but I won’t ruin the surprise.

4.What are you up to now?

I am currently working for Accouter Design, a luxury interior designers based in London as part of their in house design team. The work is varied and high pace, which is perfect for me. The work has so far consisted of typography, layout and I’ve even managed to squeeze in some illustration, which is great.

5.Finally if you could have any robot from your robot catalogue which would you pick and why?

That’s a tricky question. I think it would have to be Eddy the Electrician. I love the idea of having loads of tools right at you fingertips. The colour scheme is also one of the strongest from the 26 robots. Eddy was one of the most difficult to get exactly how I wanted, but in the end he was exactly how I had envisioned.

George Wheeler

George Wheeler

Video Editor and Blog Contributor at People of Print
George Wheeler

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