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The Art of Tom Bagshaw


An illustrator based of of Bath, England, Tom Bagshaw creates figurative works of surreal dreamscapes and elegant women who reign supreme.

An illustrator based of of Bath, England, Tom Bagshaw creates figurative works of surreal dreamscapes and elegant women who reign supreme. The sometimes dark and allegorical scenes taking place in these landscapes, from the fashionable dresses to the occasional creepy cartoon-like creature, are created digitally which give them a sleek and luxurious look.

Arabella: So where does the name Mostly Wanted come from?

Tom Bagshaw: Originally mostlywanted just came about from the need for a domain for my portfolio website, after a bunch of preferred names were already taken i ended up going with mostlywanted, i think it was about 5th on my list of possibles. It just stuck from then really.

What are your weapons of choice for creating your images?

TB: My primary apps are painter ix.5, Photoshop CSs2 and artrage but i also use Illustrator (cs2) for more complex vector work, InDesign for dtp / print work and dabble with some 3d when needed.

Your works mainly feature a strong female protagonist with fabulous clothes, do you find models for these, or are they created in your head?

TB: I get asked this a lot. I have always been interested in creating work with an element of realism, I dont use models I just use a lot of reference. The great thing with working digitally is the ability to make mood boards and collections of reference and have them on screen while youre working. I have a great store of photographs, books, magazines, mannequins, I also use 3d to work out lighting problems and if I get really stuck I can take some quick digital photos for reference. All these things help to create the look i want, sometimes more successfully than others.

In working with an agency and clients, do you find they trust you to do what you want at this point, or do they have a hand in dictating in how an image should look for an assignment?

TB: I'm pretty sure this is a universal thing; no matter what field youre from in terms of being a creative, some clients can be great and trust what youre doing will be good and work well or you get others, who for whatever reason, decide that they know exactly what they want and basically push and push untill you end up totally disheartened and just do what they want. These are usually the jobs that make you want to throttle the client, and you dont end up having the finished product in your portfolio.

You also do commercial design work such as logos and identity branding -- very different from the dreamy figurative works -- is one easier than the other, or do you enjoy doing both?

TB: The commercial design and web work ive done is really just a means to an end- fortunately i have been able to move further away from the more commercial work and concentrate on illustration over the last few years. I do still dabble in branding, print and web design but its not something i actively pursue.

Are there any particular books, ephemera, or other sources of inspiration that you keep around the studio?

TB: I dont really collect ephemera as a source of inspiration, I have a variety of books, comics, periodicals etc. lying around that I tend to leaf through but my main source of inspiration comes from online, I'm terrible at spending time online and have to limit myself to a fixed period to surf the net per day or I could easily lose days at a time looking at the mass of creativity generated around the globe.

You show the step-by-step process of many images on your blog, but do you have any advice for recent illustration graduates as far as the business side; what to include in a portfolio and gain representation etc?

TB:My best advice to anyone starting out would be to do what you like to do rather than what you think people want to see. It eventually pays off. In respect to the business side, it really depends on what type of work youre looking for but from an illustration or a design point of view it would be to get your portfolio together with your best work -- an online folio is a must, if in doubt -- keep it simple, art buyers and directors want be be able to see your work as quickly as possible. You may need to do studio visits so make sure you have an equivalent print / hard copy portfolio to take around with you. Dont underestimate the need for advertising yourself, postcards, flyers, newsletters -- it all helps to raise your profile and get your work in front of people who may want to commission or represent you. A quick note on representation: theres a lot of agencies out there, not all of them act in the best interests of the artist, do your research thoroughly and dont jump onboard with the first agency that offers to represent you unless youre sure of them.

You are a convert to the digital realm, but do you think you will trade a Wacom tablet for a paint brush for future projects as a change of pace or to get a different look?

TB: I've been doing digital work for about 8 years or so now and even though I can do the job at hand digitally, nothing will replace the value of a traditionally painted image. I think its a common thing though, no matter how hard you work or what you have accomplished digitally, people seem to have a little more respect for anything created analogue. More and more I'm wanting to go back to oil and acrylics, its just a question of when.

Do you have any projects, prints, or shows we should keep an eye out for?

TB: I'm working on a new piece that will be for my book 2 portfolio, the more painterly works -- which will hopefully end up as a limited edition print -- and go on a tour for my agent, Central Illustration Agency.

You can find prints and more imagery at www.mostlywanted.com


all images copyright of Tom Bagshaw

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