One look at illustrator and graphic designer Tom Exton’s book would never give away the fact he started out designing car number plates. But that’s exactly where his venture into digital dark art began.
“I got my start working as a graphic designer at Fourdot, a small start-up company in North London,” he says of the number plate-making firm. “They were launching a range of illustrated vehicle registration plates and I was part of a small design team creating the artwork.”
Exton is currently based in Norwich and works as a freelance illustrator. His most recent project was collaborating with his sister on a children’s book which is set for publication in early 2020. “These days, my work is primarily digital, although I still begin each piece with a freehand drawing which I then colour and enhance using Photoshop or Illustrator,” he adds.
His personal work sees Exton exercise his talent by presenting usually extreme and though-provoking situations that tend to involve skulls, creepy characters and post-apocalyptic settings. The pieces ooze detail and the people or creatures come across either lively and animated or laidback and subdued.
“When I graduated I had very little experience of digital illustration, working primarily with inks and acrylic paints,” Exton continues. “My work at Fourdot required me to break out of my comfort zone and learn how to use the Adobe Creative Suite. I now use the software daily.”
With his feet now firmly nestled under the table in the creative world, what would the artist change about the industry if he could? “There’re a lot of people out there who will request illustrators and designers to work for free,” he responds.
“These ‘jobs’ can be tempting to younger artists who simply want to make some sort of mark but ultimately this practice just harms the industry as a whole and can also end up discouraging potentially great creatives from pursuing a career in the arts.”
As for advice for those aspiring artists, he says persistence is key, and to always be confident in your ability: “Don’t be discouraged by rejection. It doesn’t mean you’re not good enough, it just means you’re not ready yet. Keep working! By simply working on your skills every day you will notice improvements far quicker than you’d expect.”
Connect with Tom Exton here.
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