Each month at Bright, we are celebrating an artist – someone who has really shown true grit and determination; an artist who can inspire those yet to cut their teeth in the illustration world, and someone who we love working with.
Introducing Tom Heard!
Hi Tom! Firstly, what made you decide to become an illustrator, and was it always something you aspired to be? I always dreamed of playing football for Birmingham City, however, having failed miserably with this ambition, (I didn’t even make the school team!) I wanted to pursue making pictures. Quite often at school I would spend much of my time doodling in exercise books or in the library, and it was this love of books that developed my ambition to illustrate for children.
A piece Tom made for Bright Educational’s anti-bullying campaign , and a landmark piece – his first Ladybird book!
As an illustrator, I always feel there comes a point where you can look at your work and say,Yep, I did that and I like it! At what point did you find that you’d developed into the illustrator you’ve become? Definitely! I always remember reading my mothers Ladybird Books and then one day I walked into a high street shop and saw a book I illustrated for them, it felt almost surreal. I look at my work and like it sometimes, however, I’m always striving to improve and so I always believe my next best work is yet to come!
What advice would you give to budding illustrators? Practise and persistence is key; I also find, as an educator that many of my students forget that being a professional isn’t just creating artwork. Being able to effectively communicate both written and verbally is such an essential skill for all aspects of life.
What are the benefits of working with an agency? Working with Bright is being part of a talented and vibrant community. My agents have offered me both invaluable advice and inspiration, as well as limitless help, encouragement and guidance. Working with an agency has really benefited my own development, Bright is not only interested in the present but the future and this is evident in their ability to both encourage and nurture. I now feel I have a greater understanding of the industry and a schedule full of stimulating projects!
“Tom is integral to the success of Bright educational. He is diligent, professional, has a wonderful creative eye and constantly over delivers. He is a joy to work with and I feel so proud to represent him!” Lucie Luddington, Senior agent, Bright Educational.
Do you have a favourite children’s author/illustrator – someone who inspired you? Jon Klassen – While studying my degree I read I Want My Hat Back and thought, ‘wow!’ I admired its humour; it didn’t follow a traditional happy ending and got away with it!
Was there a favourite subject at school (besides art and design)?! I really enjoyed music; I had a very inspirational teacher for several years and his passion for music made our whole class immersed in the subject.
If you won the lottery, what would you do? I enjoy my work as an illustrator so much that I definitely wouldn’t retire at 24! The opportunity to travel would be amazing, visiting and experiencing so many places and cultures would be incredibly enriching.
Tom’s work space, and a collection of his published work.
Desert Island discs: what would your eight records, and one luxury be?
This has taken a while to decide!
Ryan Adams – To Be Young, (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High)
The Jayhawks – Save it For a Rainy Day
David Bowie – The Man Who Sold The World
The Cure – Friday I’m in Love
The Knife – Heartbeats
Bjork – Army of Me
Black Sabbath – Iron Man
Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
My luxury would be the DVD collection of the original Star Wars trilogy, (the prequels can stay at home!)
Do you play a musical instrument? Yes, I used to play the Flute. I would spend many of my Saturdays at band practise and played in the Birmingham Schools Flute Choir, we had the opportunity to play with Sir James Galway at Symphony Hall, which was an exciting opportunity!
What was the last book you read? I read a substantial amount of non-fiction and recently finished Sarah Hyndman’s Why Fonts Matter, it has made me think twice when noticing fonts out and about!
Thanks Tom for such a lovely insight into your world and it’s great to meet the man behind the artwork! If you’d like to comission Tom, please contact Lucie Luddington for educational illustration, and Nicky Lander for commercial picture books and children’s fiction.