Thomas Slater, an illustrator on bike
Thomas Slater’s drawings are rough, rudimental, almost naïve. The London-based illustrator happily takes us into his entertaining multi-coloured world to talk to us about his artistic process and his passion for bikes.
Hi Thomas! You’re now working as a freelance illustrator in London. Can you tell us about your journey prior to embarking on this solo adventure?
Prior to working as a freelance illustrator I tried my hand at whole host of jobs, all the while studying illustration at Camberwell College of the arts with a long list of incredible creative friends. Previous to that I studied art foundation and re learnt how to draw in the town of Nottingham Forest, under a brilliant tutor, Helen Merrin. Previous to that, I sold cheese and meats to punters in a Delicatessan and thought I knew how to draw, while studying at the same school as Isaac Newton, but not quite at the same time.
Your illustrations have a very entertaining side to them, with their colours and simplicity. What do you use as inspiration?
Life on spaceship earth.
What are you trying to get across with your creations?
This varies from one piece of work to the other and very often, this decision is upto the person paying the invoice.
London, and the United-Kingdom as a whole, have always been exciting creative places, whether it be with fashion music, the arts or literature. What artists left their mark on you when you were young, and now influence your work?
The first five that come to mind are David Hockney, Donald Byrd, Ryan Mcginley, Misaki Kawai and Tox. Only one of these comes from London.
You worked on the “Manual For Speed” project, which you renamed the “Tour Day France”. As we’re French, can you tell us about this experience, and what got you interested in this sporting event?
I have always had a bike and in the past few years this has transitioned from a mode of transport to a way of life. No sport has the same addictive balance between geography and human physical ability. The first race I took any time to watch was of course the Tour De France and I was hooked. Manual for speed and I wanted to add something unsaid to the traditional race coverage. Looking for funny scenarios and delving a bit deeper into the footage than the usual ‘who won what’ race reportage we created a dialogue with the viewer unlike any other and possibly my most rewarding and difficult project to date.
We noticed that you’ve collaborated with big English textile and clothing labels. What’s different about working with OLOW?
You guys just gave me total control which was a refreshing change.
During one of your interviews you stated that Man’s greatest invention was the bicycle. As well as your “Tour Day France” project, we see a lot of two-wheelers in your drawings. Notably with your SPRINT t-shirt you created for our 2016 Spring-Summer collection, “Roues Libres”, which, as its name suggests, has a bike theme. What do you find so fascinating about this means of transport?
I find the bike second only to the skateboard as a means of transport. The lack of creativity is made up for by the never ending list of places that you can travel. Trying to stick with a stronger rider up a long upward grade is the perfect way to take your head for a shit.
We’re lucky to be in possession of two of this season’s shirts you illustrated. Could we say the guy with the green shirt on our CHEERS t-shirt looks a little bit like you?
I have always thought of myself as a bit of an ‘FA CUP,’ (big ears) yes!
What are your projects for the future?
Aiming to put together an exhibition of paintings with my brother lawrence in 2016 and keep working on an every widening array of commercial jobs.
A big thank to Thomas for his answers.