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Interview with...Tom Brown

Originally published August 2016

What authors/ books influenced you in your early days of being a Pagan/following your spiritual path?

Alan Garner, Robert Holdstock, Urula LeGuinn, Jung, and Nimue Brown (though that was later...) Oddly, almost every book I read when I was young seemed to have an echo of the numinous in it. It was only when I went back to some of them as an adult that I realised I had supplied that myself, in a lot of cases. Current books that are important to me include the work of Robert Macfarlane and Martin Shaw.

What drew you to your path?

Before I knew that there were any others who experienced the world as I did , it was the world itself- the sense of mystery I experienced while walking in the woods on my way home from school, for example. It was only when I met Nimue Brown that I realised there were others like me and that was a name for this, and that name was Druidry.

Where do you find inspiration for your books/artwork?

I am pretty much always paying attention to everything, as an artist and story-teller. It's difficult to narrow it down from there really. (and any art or story that didn't have room in it for nearly everything wouldn't be worth doing)

How did you become an illustrator? Was it something you intended to do or was it by accident?

I have wanted to be an Illustrator or comics artist since I was very young. I was the kid who didn't play sports because he was in his room drawing. (and reading)

Do you have a specific process for your work?

I do. I've gone through several, but this is mostly the way I work at the moment. Sketch, soften by rubbing in, then outline with black coloured pencil, soften again, and pick out detail and shading with a drafting pencil (which can be kept needle sharp) soften again, and pick out highlights with eraser. Then I scan and usually do the colour in photoshop with a tablet. The most recent exciting development is that I'm working with Nimue on the art for the graphic novel interpretation of Le Morte D'arthur. I do the lines, scan them, then pass them to her to do the colours with oil pastel. I then put the lines back on top in photoshop, so that we keep the detail. I'm absolutely loving the way this is coming out, and we are going to go further with this and keep passing the pages for Hopeless, Maine back and forth till they are ready to scan.

What do you feel makes a book worth reading?

I like to be transported and surprised. I have a weakness for beautiful language and I'm drawn to the imaginative also.

Are you working on a new book or art project right now and if so what is it?

Right now, I'm working with Nimue on the art for the first volume of a graphic novel interpretation of Le Morte D'arthur by John Mattews. After that I'll be back in Hopeless, Maine, illustration New England Gothic (which is a prose book by Nimue which expands the story in the graphic novel series) Then probably we will start on the art for the next Hopeless, Maine graphic novel.

Do you illustrate part or full time?

Full time, plus a bit. Usually six days a week at present.

What's the hardest thing about illustrating?

In terms of actually making the art, it's that first bit when you have to figure out how all the elements will relate to each other in space and on the page. This has gotten easier over time but it's still the tricky bit. (and some days it can be a case of doing as much erasing as drawing) In terms of the business side of it, it's the uncertainty. Money does not come in in an orderly/predictable sort of way and often people need to be...reminded that payment is due.

How can other readers discover more about you (website/facebook links etc)?

and...i'm on Twitter as @GothicalTomB What advice would you give to aspiring artists? Know that it is going to take a lot of hours to get to where you want to be as an artist (I know this, because i've been at this for years, and i'm not there yet) Find your own style. This will probably happen without your doing it intentionally, but embrace your quirks and the things you most enjoy doing. That way, you won't be replaceable (as someone who does a house or current popular style will be) If you are determined to follow this as a career, you will need a lot of sheer bloody mindedness. What do you think makes your graphic novels stand out from the crowd? Nimue writes them!! Also, we are not targeting any genre type or age group. We are just telling the sort of story we most want to tell.

Which one of your books or pieces of art are you most proud of? Honestly, it is usually the next one. Hopeless, Maine is certainly the project closest to my heart.

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