The SAA are very pleased to be supporting the World Illustration Awards by sponsoring The SAA Agents Award for New Talent.

Tom Peake – Artist Launch

Meiklejohn are delighted to invite Tom Peake to the agency. Tom plays with visual metaphors to create thought-provoking images. His use of rich colours and graphic shapes have earned him a loyal following over the first six months of his career; having already built up an impressive client list since graduating from Falmouth University last summer, Tom is definitely one to watch.

We spoke to Tom about taking the first steps to becoming a professional illustrator, his creative process and his hopes for the future

Since graduating you've been incredibly busy, how would you describe the first few months of your career?

In a word, exhilarating. The transition from university to freelance work was fairly daunting. There's a certain naivety coming out of university, it's easy to think that the hard work is over but that couldn't be further from the truth. I learnt fairly quickly that you have to be persistent and also resilient.

As soon as I graduated, I focused on contacting the publications that had informed my development. As luck would have it, when I contacted the Financial Times they had yet to line up an illustrator for their next diary page and I secured my first commission. I'm so grateful to them for taking a chance on me as I have gained a lot of experience from working with them.

What inspires your work? What are your influences?

My inspiration stems from my curious nature. As a kid, I always had fads; obsessed with something for a short amount of time before moving onto the next thing - it's the same now, but more information driven.

I'm also influenced by mid-century modern design. I'm really captivated by the design principles pioneered in that era. The clean lines, simple shapes, and negative space inform how I compose images.

I also draw a lot of inspiration from music. Whenever I'm creating I listen to music and on a subconscious level, I think the rhythm and flow interweaves with the shapes and compositional elements of my work. On a lyrical level, I find music to be an extremely visual medium, it fuels the way I think conceptually.

Digital Arts magazine describe your work as having a 'clarity of vision and deft use of metaphor.' Your work is very concept driven, how do you conjour up these ideas?

I was extremely humbled that Digital Arts thought that about my work, concepts are such an important part of what I do and to receive such high praise just after graduating was incredible.

For me, developing concepts begins with complete familiarity with the subject matter, either through research or reading and re-reading an article. That's then followed by quite intensive brainstorming. I also find it beneficial to think of real world situations; something or somewhere familiar that can help communicate the message. I then filter this down to around three or four solutions. The design element usually comes last in the process.

What have you learnt from your time as a professional illustrator so far?

I've been incredibly lucky to have worked fairly consistently on commercial projects since graduating, but the experience has taught me to see the value of continuing to experiment with my personal work. Whilst I love working on commissions, I can very easily see how my process could slip into being autonomous and systematic. There's something exciting and liberating about creating for creativity's sake, so it's something I definitely plan to do more of.

What are your hopes for the future?

The big dream would be to work on a billboard campaign or something site specific. I'm really intrigued by how the mode of communication shifts when you move from a small space in a magazine to a large scale public artwork, with lots of eyes to please and minds to challenge!

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