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Freelance Illustrator Tom Heard

Tom Heard is graduate Illustrator from Plymouth University, he’s now represented by the Bright Group and more recently has been working on educational projects.

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‘I remember spending most of my time in school doodling in exercise books and after failing miserably with my ambition of playing professional football, (I didn’t even make the school team!), I decided I was best pursuing an Arts education. I initially decided to study A-Levels at Truro College and from here I studied a great course called FdA Digital Visualisation (Art & Design). The interdisciplinary course combined practical and theoretical practise developing my digital skills within traditional areas, the tutors were extremely helpful and this eventually led to me completing my final year of a BA (Hons) in Illustration at Plymouth University. I think it was between these two courses that I developed a love for children’s illustration and towards the end of my third year I was fortunate enough to exhibit my work at the D&AD New Blood exhibition. Here I had a portfolio review with Vicki Willden-Lebrecht, founder of the Bright Agency and I received some incredibly helpful advice and inspiration, fast forward several months and I signed with them. I feel that it was this move that saw the most transition within my illustrations and I’m incredibly blessed to be working with such talented and hard working agents.’

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‘When conceptualising ideas I’ll use a sketchbook and pencils though at times I automatically reach out for that imaginary keyboard to press undo so I’ll hop onto my iPad and use an app like Paper or Sketchbook Pro. I recently purchased a Wacom Inkling and I found that this can be useful sometimes although I’ll generally just scan/email sketches. The final illustrations are completed digitally within Photoshop, although I often switch to Illustrator when working with vectors. As for influences, the list is endless however I’ve always strayed to Artists that manage to create absorbing worlds, Maurice Sendak and Shaun Tan to name a few. I also have a twitter feed full on incredibly talented illustrators that I take inspiration from.

I’ve spent much of my time recently working on educational projects for clients including Macmillan, Benchmark Education and Cambridge University Press. Currently I’m working on a really exciting project with one of the publishers I’ve always wanted to work with, however I really can’t say much more! Recently I completed my teaching qualification and will start lecturing at Plymouth College of Art in September so I’m really excited to get out of the studio as illustration can be quite an isolated profession at times, but ultimately I get to do what I love most everyday!’

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Website | @th_illustration