Tom Guilmard Is Having All The Fun
The artist and illustrator is known for his cheeky creations, but what brought him there?
Artist In Residence is a monthly featured artist. Each month, we profile an artist who creates original artwork for Byline's homepage. Just as we seek to give writers a byline, we seek to give artists space.
Navigating through the whimsical world of Tom Guilmard, one can't help but be enveloped by a playful universe where thick digital lines form bizarre and lovable characters, each one a sprightly nod to the artist’s irrepressible humor and imaginative spirit. Tom, an England-based illustrator and animator, crafts a world where the palpable energy of fun and spontaneous creation punctuates every piece. His effortless ability to create a myriad of characters, ranging from the adorably odd to the curiously misshapen, showcases a delightful chaos born from a method where instinct trumps overthought and rapid creation yields an honesty that has become his signature.
While his humor and quirky visual style serve to charm and entertain, Tom utilizes these elements as subtle conduits to engage his audience in deeper dialogues, camouflaging poignant messages within a seemingly light-hearted façade. His dedication to a quick and unfiltered creative process not only lends an authentic quality to his works but also forms a peculiarly magnetic aesthetic that invites viewers to revel in the juxtaposition of simplicity and depth. Through this vibrant cacophony of characters and narratives, Tom extends an invitation to explore topics with levity, gently nudging towards introspection amidst the hearty chuckles, and embodying a mastery in weaving complexity into simplicity.
For our collaboration with Urban Outfitters and Dickies, we commissioned Tom to create an original work in the spirit of the new work world, and thus, new work wear — but with the Guilmard touch, of course.
How did you get started as an artist? Any core memories?
My nan is a painter and my dad is really good at drawing and so I always enjoyed drawing when I couldn't be outside. Art wasn't a big part of my life in the way of gallery visits or unique cultural experiences, etc. It was more when I involved myself in skateboarding and other subcultures at the time that I discovered the idea of living creatively. I obsessed over the graphics and pictures in skate and snowboard catalogues. I'd copy the logos, the colours, etc.
Are there any artists or makers who specifically inspired your career as an artist?
Skateboarding and snowboarding were the things that lead me more towards art. Skaters and snowboarders are always doing other creative stuff, building brands, making music, painting, filming etc. I looked up to the ones that did that the most: Mark Gonzales, Ed Templeton, Ray Barbee. Artist wise, when I was really young a tutor showed me David Shrigley - that was the first time I put humour and art together which was a big moment for me. Other than that not really. I was obsessed with Lil Wayne in my early teens and I read an interview with him where he said he only listened to his own music - that made a lot of sense to me when it came to my own art (probably for different reasons), so I don't really look at art, go to galleries, or have any people I look up to these days.
How has your art changed over the years?
It's changed a lot. In university, I made films - which I hope to get back to. But then people started paying me for my illustrations, and I let the wave takeover. Before I could even think, I was an "illustrator" to everyone. The work was stale and repetitive and was never reflective of me. I left my agency 3 years ago now and have focused on making art - I'm still miles away from where I want to be. "The Gap," as Ira Glass calls it. Hopefully my taste holds up in the end. I'm much happier.
Now, where do you look to for inspiration?
I don't go out looking for inspiration. Thats like looking for love. Inspiration happens when you least expect it (cursive handwriting painted on a piece of driftwood). I do know that there is no inspiration to be found in the studio. So I always make a point to not spend all my time there, even though I'd love to. It is mostly humour that inspires me, things that I find funny will snowball in to grand ideas in the studio - and subsequently become more and more absurd. Again, thats hard to seek out but I'm usually with my brother or my friend max when the funniest ideas happens.
What is one or a few projects you’ve worked on that you’re especially proud of?
I try and be proud anytime I make something. It's difficult to be an artist. Even if I hate the outcome I try and acknowledge the fact that I made something. The only failure in art (and life) is standing still. I honestly try to not over analyse the work, Thats everyone else's job, I just make it.
What are you up to when you’re not making things?
Playing tennis, mostly. I tend to have obsession cycles. Right now its Subutteo - a table football game played a lot in Europe. I recently discovered the whole subculture and it's a very competitive world which I like. Bunch of old geezers flicking bits of plastic around really gets me going at the moment. Who knows whats next.
What’s one project you would love to work on in the future?
I want to start my own residency somewhere in France, in a house all designed by me. I also want to connect my passion for sport with my art. Not just with the content of my art but collaborations with brands, teams, or even venues. Maybe a tennis tournament on the ATP tour will let me design the trophy. please.