Saturday, December 22, 2012

Artist Profile: Meet Graham Toms

"The West of Ireland" by Graham Toms

Leslie here.  I'm honored to introduce you to a friend and amazing artist, Graham Toms.  I met Graham about 15 years ago when he was working at the Disney Institute in Orlando, Florida.  Graham's family roots are in County Down, Ireland.  He was encouraged to paint by an uncle, who painted as a hobby.  Graham's formal studies include a BFA in Illustration and Animation from the University of Ulster, in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  After graduation he worked in Europe doing illustration and animation before taking a position with the Disney Institute in 1995, where he taught quite a variety of animation techniques.  Eventually he began to work for Newtek, a company that creates a variety of video and animation products.  In his role at the company he creates content for 3D animation products, is an educator, and also works with a wide variety of studios and organizations all over the world.
He and his family live in San Antonio TX.
Graham is passionate about drawing and I rarely see him without some sort of drawing utensil and paper in his hands!  His love for drawing is contagious:  He loves nothing better than to share his passion with kids and adults, alike.
Graham's work has been shown all over the world.  I hope you will take some time to visit his blog, which is listed at the end of this post.

 After graduating and word the team at Newtek, Inc., developers of Lightwave 3D, as a 3D Education Specialist.  In this position, he created content, worked

Why do you keep a sketchbook and how often do you work in it?

A sketchbook helps arm me with tools for critical analysis, observation, interpretation, inference, evaluation, explanation, and finally, meta-cognition. The process of recording this data into one book also displays a Chronological order of how ideas evolve. So it's value is multifaceted. 

So although I have a Sketchbook, I never use it, ideas are dangerous and it makes me cry for my book in homage for pulped trees, OK just kidding . I sketch everyday and if I do not have my sketchbook at hand, I find that wonderful commodity of pulped wood from somewhere else, a restroom if I must. Bathroom handtowels, the “OTHER” paper is waaaay to thin. However, I expect there are Ninja scribblers out there who could easily caress and mark the surface like a Raphael.

Do you work in just one at a time or do you have several going at 

I have a number of sketchbooks, the one I choose at a particular moment depends on where I am going. The other factor might be “oh no, were did I put it. OK, there's another one, i'll just use that”. That can break the continuity you'd prefer to keep in the one book, but better that than nothing.

Do you differentiate between a sketchbook and an art journal?

Art journal, that sounds very regal and ceremonious, something only despots, Royals and self appointed deities would use. Drawing in an art journal would only make me nervous, sounds like an absolute beast. This peasant knows his place and will continue to humbly record my notions in a sketchbooks. 

How do you use your sketchbook? For example, do you use it to 
make studies for larger pieces, for experimenting with 
materials, to practice drawing, or for making beautiful pages as 
artworks in themselves?

Storyboard sequence and writing ideas would be the other categories I would add to what already is mentioned in the question in how I would use the sketchbooks.

What's your preferred format (sketchbook size, type of paper, 
single sheet, spiral bound etc?) and preferred medium for using 
in your sketchbook? watercolor, pen, pencil, crayon, collage etc?

I like a variety of sizes and mediums. The only type of sketchbook listed in the question I don't like, would be spiral bound. That would break up the middle of the page if I wanted to go landscape mode. I use everytype of medium unless I think it would dissolve the page.

How is your sketchbook different from your art-that-is-not-in- 
the-sketchbook? Is there anything about working in your 
sketchbook that is different from working on pieces that are not 
in your sketchbook?

I treat napkins and scrape paper like a sketchbook, but this are processes, bridges to help me towards a final piece. So basically, the sketchbook is a place to rapidly gesture ideas that will be finalized in another medium.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to keep a 
sketchbook but doesn't know how to begin?

I think the sketchbook has to become a well used habitual instrument. In order for that to happen, there has to be a clear philosophical understanding of it's purpose. For me it's purpose was partially stated in the very first answer of the interview. To try and summarize in a different way, it's the catalyst for beginning an idea. Most of all, don't procrastinate, be proactive about your ideas, record them.

Please visit Graham's blog:

here are links to work for specific shows/commissions:

1 comment:

  1. wow! this is a really cool post! i love the photos of his sketchbooks especially and to see the process. how interesting that he uses CHALK. thanks for doing this interview and sharing it here.


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