Thomas Slater is a London-based illustrator whose cheeky drawings we’ve been championing since the halycon days of 2013. Tom’s personality packed portraits can bring a ray of sunshine to the very darkest of November days, and perk up the visual offerings of his ever-growing roster of clients across commercial and editorial arms, which includes Fred Perry, The Protein Journal, Camden Town brewery, Vice magazine, JESS3, White Heat, Slap Skateboard Magazine, Your mind bookshop, Beach gallery London, ASOS, De Zeit, The Campus, Leo and Bloomberg View.
“I am very interested in the human condition, things that we (almost) all have in common, for better or for worse,” Thomas says of his drawings. “Moments in everyday life, and the beautiful things that bring our day to day lives joy. These things could be considered the themes in my personal work.”
The cycling-obsessed illustrator says the process behind his illustrations depends on their eventual destination. “When making commercial work I discuss the concept – often the most important part — with the client at length, to make sure we are both on the same page regarding a succinct and satisfying idea. Then send off sketches and usually work on the Lightbox over sketches before putting it into the computer. For exhibitions or personal works, I tend to work in sets — a set of drawings, using the same mediums or a set of paintings with the same general subject matter. I like the Paul Arden quote ‘If you get stuck, draw with a different pen. Change your tools; it may free your thinking.’ I try to give myself a bit of variety in approach to keep learning and to keep it fun.”
Lately, Thomas tells us that he’s been busy working on exactly one hundred drawings for Shaq and Nicole, an exhibition of work by Thomas and his equally talented brother Lawrence — whose eye for characters this time takes the form not of drawings but of sculptures — at Beach London. “We worked together on two exhibitions before — both at Daily Goods in Camberwell — and both times we decided to work in the same format and use the same materials, with the idea of a cohesive set in the forefront of our minds,” Tom says. “This time around we decided to do the exact opposite. I was interested in the way you view things in exhibitions, either from close up or the middle of the room, and the way that the nature of the work affects this. We wanted to give people both types of engagement so decided to work big and small, Hence the name Shaq and Nicole – Google it! Lawrence’s tutor at LCC, when discussing a student’s proposed project used to apparently say, ‘Great, now let me see loads of them!’ or ’ Ok, let’s see this massive!’ which we had in the back of our minds as well.”
With quantity in mind, Thomas says “I made 100 A4 pencil drawings, I just wanted to draw without really thinking and edit as I went, and Lawrence took his sketchbook drawings and blew them up as large as he could manage in the space, hoping that the two opposites would work together well in contrast.” Next up, the sibling duo will be exhibiting some paintings at Four Boroughs in Crystal Palace from December. We can’t wait.
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