Focus: Tom Deason Interview

Focus: Tom Deason Interview

Focus explores the creative talent within the climbing community.

Tom Deason has a unique and surreal illustration style. The  British climber, originally from London, has now based himself in Medellin, Colombia while he takes some time out to build his portfolio. 

How did you get into illustration? 

I've been drawing since I can remember. I used to go to museums to draw tanks and motorbikes with my pa and my bro, and I would draw superheroes at home. Ive always kept at it in some capacity, drawing comics or doodling at school. Then it was a decision between illustration or film for college. And here I am.

How would you describe your style and how did you develop it? 

Hmmm, I guess graphic. Surreal. It comes from watching The Simpsons and The Yellow Submarine film and reading anything by Katsuhiro Otomo. But there's really too much to list. And since university, working in screen print and risograph has influenced my process a lot.

How does that creative process work for you? What goes into a piece from start to finish?

It depends. Maybe I have an idea already. Maybe I have to do 50 sketches. I'll take ideas from different sketches to create an image. Sketch that 10 times. Draw it out. Redraw it. Use a lightbox or scanner to separate it into spot color layers. Add the color. Then it depends if it's getting printed or not. Because of my experiences working in screenprint and then risograph, I create my work with between one and three color layers. It's essentially working in CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key) which are the go-to colors for printing, but I either work in Black (K), or in Red, Blue, Yellow (CMY). And I overlay colors to create more colors. Apart from that it's quite straight forward. Its just about getting the drawing right. Then I'll scan it and use Photoshop to touch things up, add half tone and create each color layer. I wanted to simplify my process as much as possible at university and so in terms of tools it's literally just the basics, pencil, pen, paper and then lightbox, scanner, laptop, mouse or tablet. A lot of work goes into each piece but the process itself is straight forward. Its a process based on printing even when I am only publishing it digitally.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to become an illustrator?

Not that I'm the guy to ask, but stick with it. And draw whatever you feel like drawing. Everyone's rubbish at drawing something but you'll only get good by being shit first.