Interview with Tom Godfrey

We love getting to know our vendors, finding out about how they create their wonderful work and their journey as a designer. This week we caught up with one of our latest additions Dublin-based self-taught illustrator Tom Godfrey. Originally from London, Tom has worked in Dublin for 7 years or so, however, is planning to move back to the busy streets of London. 

 Hi Tom, so please tell us more about yourself. 

 My name is Tom Godfrey, I'm a self-taught designer and illustrator from London. I studied English Literature after doing an art foundation course, so it is weird to find myself working visually again. My day job started out words-based but I've carved out a role where I get to draw and learn lots of design programmes as well which really suits the way my brain works – my attention span can be really short so it is good to switch between different kinds of projects.

My personal work is all done in evenings and on the weekends, and while I should class it as a hobby I tend to treat it like a full-time job. I spent about 5 years not drawing anything, so I'm sort of making up for that now!

Nice, so tell us what your work is informed by? 

My work is generally informed by what I can achieve in my kitchen. At the moment I don't have a studio, and my personal work comes out of spare time in the evenings or on weekends. I think a lot of people do that, and it can be quite hard because you feel like you need to justify the time you spend on it somehow, but I try really hard to remember I'm doing it because I enjoy it!

The content of my work normally comes from what I think are random thoughts, ideas for compositions, or colour combinations I see around, but when I look at the work afterwards I can see things that were happening around me that influenced it. I really like repeating shapes in my work and keeping them as simple as possible, but recently I've been trying to push my compositions a bit further.

Tell us about your creative process?

I tend to work with cutting shapes out, arranging them, repeating them and sometimes applying hand drawn moments and textures. I work with paper, duct tape, stamps, crayons, anything really. I do a lot of riso and lino printing because they are affordable, and I really like holding a printed piece at the end of the process – I've done digital work too, which is nice and fun in its own way, but print brings its own challenges and satisfaction.

I recently did a set of riso prints with a silver embossed layer that I applied by hand. The whole project was quite a good example of how I work: I saw a technique, tried it at home, got really excited and made some prints in the space of a day, basically. They are really special to me because every single one looks different, and I interacted so much with each one. They are all of cars, which I thought was random and just about a nice shape but actually was definitely influenced by my girlfriend studying for her driving test, I just didn't realise until afterwards!

My creative process tends to include a huge amount of self-doubt, and imposter syndrome is always a problem. Being self-taught, coupled with the huge amount of talent you can see in a few seconds on social media, makes it really easy to give up on what you are doing. What I've only started learning recently is that the people that make the incredible work you see online probably also have those feelings! And they might have studied art or illustration 'properly'! And everyone I've spoken to has been so nice and helpful – even when I've messaged pretty big names (to me anyway!), everyone takes the time to respond and wish you well and encourage you. 

Do you have any exciting plans/ aspirations? 

Ok well, my number one plan is to keep getting better at what I do. At the moment I'm trying to bring more of a narrative into my work, and trying out a lot of faces and more human elements. A lot of my personal work is quite abstract but I'd like to be able to convey specific messages more clearly.

In terms of aspirations, they sort of change week to week. I would love to work on a children's book or do more illustration work. When I'm just working for myself I find it hard to set a brief, so I like when a client has a clear list of demands, it means I can concentrate on actually making images. I think that would be my dream, to have a list of images I need to make every morning and have them done by dinner. At the moment, I have that list but not the time to do it all, but I'm working to change that!

We'd like to thank Tom for his words. Take a look at some of his items here 

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