Tom Mac Interview

October 30, 2013

1. Hi Tom! Can you give us a brief introduction to what you do and how you got started in the world of digital illustration?

I like to think of myself as a bit of an all-round creative but I focus mainly on illustrative stuff. Basically by day I am a full time Digital Designer and by night I am a freelance Digital illustrator. I spent my whole childhood drawing and doodling on everything, never really paying attention at school. After a couple of years of not really knowing what I wanted to do with my life  I decided to go do a foundation course down in Eastbourne that basically taught me how to use computers to be creative and from then on I just put my head down and worked hard on it because it made me happy.

2. You have quite an impressive array of clients you’ve worked for in the past (Heineken, Sony, Nickelodeon). What are the best and worst aspects of working with huge brands such as these?

Definitely the best aspect is the sense of achievement. Knowing that you have reached a level that people want you to work on something for a name everyone knows about is a great feeling – regardless of whether that is winning it on your own or working on it with others through an agency. There are a couple of downsides that sometimes occur with the larger brands. These can be anything from Non-disclosure agreements preventing you from displaying the work you did for up to a year or maybe even longer in some cases. Also the bigger the brand the tighter the brand identity, which is understandable but it can sometimes get in the way of creativity, especially when the work itself has to go through more than one person / department before it’s signed off. The good outweigh the bad though, as always.

3. We are most familiar with your work here at Urban Industry through your affiliation with UK brand AnyForty. How did this meeting come about?

Back in 2010 someone sent me a link to a competition AnyForty were running for a chance to have work printed on a tee with the brief: Create an AF themed American style sports logo. At this point I had never heard of the brand but after looking into them, seeing the heavyweights they had collab'd with I was very motivated to knock up something cool for it. I got a good mate of mine – Jack Wells, who is a typographer, graffiti writer and videographer from Brighton involved on it with me and we came up with one of the winning designs: AnyForty Grizzlies, which I'm still pretty proud of today. Since then I have got to know the man behind the brand, Al and we have managed to work on some great stuff together.

4. Can you talk us through your latest collaboration with the brand on the Day Of The Dead "Terrible Twosome” pack?

The double pack is a celebration of the Mexican Day of the Dead fiesta held on the 1st of November. Everything about the celebration is incredible, the colours atmosphere and of course the skulls and face paint. It’s kind of cool that they create a big celebration around something so morbid and a lot of artists have come up with their own takes on the style and atmosphere and the illustrations for the Duo Del Los Muertos packs are my takes on this. AnyForty concocted the idea then approached me to come up with a special edition twin pack for the day. Al himself visited a DoD fiesta over in San Francisco a few years back so I know it’s something he has been wanting to release for a long time now.

5. Finally, are you much of a streetwear/sneaker fan yourself? Any particular brands you are a fan of, or any brands that you’d love to work with?

I love both street wear and Sneakers, from a very young age I had an obsession with footwear, in particular Nike footwear which I still have. My most recent purchase is a pair of Flyknit Lunars which I love, I also have about 10 pairs of Janoski's which I think are ultimately my favourite shoe. I love street wear as a whole for a lot of reasons, but mainly how broad and ridiculously diverse it is. Each brand involved has something unique about them that they bring to the table and the scene as a whole stretches all the way from a kid in his bedroom to the world of high fashion. I have long list of brands I would love to work with, too many to name if I’m honest but I have a couple of cool collabs lined up for 2014 which I am excited about.

by SeanM


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