All the little drawings scattered around It’s Nice That are the work of the brilliant Tom Gauld. An uncanny nack for hitting the nail on the head seen him prove himself as a master of the art of editorial illustration. All polished off with a sense of humour to envy, we thought it was about time to catch up with him properly and also treat you to a first look at a brand new letterpress print, Character for an Epic Tale – released this week with Buenaventura Press
Hey Tom, your drawings are all over It’s Nice That, so it’s odd we haven’t spoken to you before – could you tell us a little about yourself for those readers who have been living in a cave and not heard of you?
I make illustrations and cartoons. I published my first comic book (called First) in 2001 with my friend Simone Lia. Since then I’ve written, drawn and published quite a few small comic books. My most recent books, Hunter and Painter and The Gigantic Robot were published by Buenaventura Press, they also publish ‘Kramers Ergot’ an excellent comics anthology to which I contribute. I do a weekly cartoon about the arts for the Guardian Saturday Review and have made illustrations for lots of different clients including The New Yorker, Penguin, Boots, Top Man, New Scientist, Orange, etc.
Your work has a very familiar style to it – has that always been the case?
My drawings have been vaguely similar to what I’m doing now since I was about twelve. I do occasionally try new things (I certainly took some wrong-turns when I was at college) but I think on some level this is a bit like my handwriting. I can’t imagine making some kind of massive change in style, but I hope that things will develop as I carry on. Partly I’m attempting to find a really efficient style which communicates ideas and stories effectively, but I want warmth in there too.
Humour is obviously very important in your work, where does the inspiration come from? TV? Books? Comics?
I’m interested in a kind of dry/black/bleak comedy in all of those forms (and in music, film, paintings, etc. too for that matter). I particularly like understated subtle humour on the sad/funny border. Having said that I sometimes just like very silly things too. In almost all my works I’m aiming for some level of humour, not necessarily a belly laugh, sometimes just a moment of recognition or surprise.
Your new print looks fantastic, what else is on the horizon for Mr.Gauld?
I’m working on a longer comic story which will hopefully become a book. I’ve been fiddling around on it for ages, fitting it in amongst commercial works and getting distracted by smaller projects, but I’m now determined to give it a big push. I don’t want to say too much about it really, I’ve had to work hard to create something bigger (my comics up till now have all been one to twenty something pages) but hopefully it’ll be interesting. I’ll also keep doing my weekly cartoon for the Guardian which I still love doing. I’ve got quite a few other ideas for projects; I made some lego robots for a show last year and definitely want to do something more with lego, but I’m trying to just focus on doing my current things well.
Characters for an Epic Tale is a letterpress print, signed and numbered in an edition of 150 copies. 24 × 32cm, printed in two colours on Hahnemühle mould-made Ingres paper. Printed by Buenaventura Press, 2009.