Interview with Camp Illustration

Illustrations are everywhere in this visual world – overflowing from magazines and books, billboards and buildings, even on the sides of buses or on the fabric of your shoes. It’s easy to overlook and take for granted these artworks that contribute to the rich imagery of our everyday lives. Simplicity and humour are the key elements that makes the work of ‘Camp Illustration’ really stand out from the crowd. Colourful and playful, Tom Camp creates prints and digital artworks that are engaging and striking. Cat On The Wall’s Jo Whitby caught up with Tom via email to find out more about the man behind ‘Camp Illustration’…

Cat On The Wall: Hello Tom! First up, can you tell us about yourself and ‘Camp Illustration’?

Tom Camp: Hi Cat on the wall,well I’m a South London based Illustrator but I was born in Brackla, Bridgend! I graduated from Norwich Art school (‘Norwich University college of the arts’) in June, where I got a degree in Illustration. On my 21st birthday I moved ship down to South London. I’m currently trying to juggle an internship at Print Club London, my freelance Illustration work and a part time job.

Camp Illustration came along during a lecture by a tutor at Uni, he was saying how some Illustrators brand themselves. I thought well I’ve got quite an unfortunate surname anyway, may as well hit it straight on and make a joke about it. So I worked with my friend who is a graphic designer to make some sort of geometric shape that resembled a tent. I would like to make more of a point about my website being my ‘Campsite’ not just a website. However I don’t have the know-how to make the website functional and easy to use.

COTW: When did you begin illustrating?

TC: I always remember drawing when I was younger but it never dawned on me that I could make a career from it, it was when I started at Norwich on the Graphic design course that I realised I liked drawing more. I was lucky that in my first year, we had the opportunity to do projects in Graphic Design, Animation and Illustration, just for the first term. It was a mixture of not liking how stressful GD projects were and how everyone on the course were so blunt, I decided to swap to Illustration. It was only in Third year that I made a conscious decision to really focus on making money with my work. Which is when I branded myself with a logo, made myself a website and started to sell my screen prints.

COTW: What or who inspires you creatively?

TC: The strangest things inspire me, I always feel guilty if I get inspired by other peoples work. I think I’m copying them somehow.

I’ve found since being up in the studios of Print Club London I find just being there gives me some inspiration to use a sketchbook and draw most days. A good combination of talking to friends and colleagues, listening to good music and taking the occasional break to play the xbox is the best way for me to work.

For example, the faux fur beast which most of my screen prints are based on only came around because me and my girlfriends Dad and Brother started joking about her fake fur coat, saying its from 100% pure polyester beast. Also my ‘Mein Kampf’ poster, which was featured in Computer arts in the UK, Brazil and Poland, all started from a conversation with a tutor at University.

COTW: You’re working on a new print project… can you tell us more about this?

TC: Yeah, I’m working on a set of 3 Screen prints. Which I’m pretty darn excited about. It’s based on the character I said earlier about called ‘ The faux fur beast’. His species are actually where fake fur come from and these new prints are basically him trying to hide in silly places. I’ve printed one of the set so far. Which is for sale on print club London’s online shop and in the their gallery in brick lane.


The lovely guys of Print club London have been nice enough to ask me to Print the second and third of the set Live at Pick me up this year. This is the part that I’m really excited about! It’s going to be brilliant to print the last of the series with some kind of audience and hopefully sell them there and then. So anyone planning to go to pick me up this year, you should come say HI!

COTW: What have been some of the most interesting projects you’ve worked on so far?

TC: The most interesting projects I’ve worked on . . . apart from the one I’m working on at the moment probably has to be something I’m working on with my friend Claire. She runs a Burlesque life drawing class in London called Dr Sketchy. She’s asked me to do a poster for her, I’m going to one of the shows and I’m want to use the drawings from the class to inform the Illustrations for the poster. I’m planning on making some prints of these as well.

Also a great magazine called FAKE Magazine, commissioned me a couple of months back to create an Illustration for an article being written about travelling cinemas, there’s hardly any information about them online so I had quite a good time imagining what I thought they should look like. In the end the image I made for this was the happiest I’ve been about any commissioned work I’ve made.

Last one! A brilliant graphic designer called Jamin Galea commissioned me late last year with a brief to promote being green and not to vandalise. It was a tricky brief just with that, but these were going to be used in a college in Malta. Which threw me a little as I often use exaggerated mountain scape’s and Scandinavian houses, but in Malta they have no mountains and their buildings look completely different to those I usually use. So I had to do a fair bit of research to make it accurate to the country it would be seen in. It was a learning curve.

COTW: Do you have a particular format/materials you prefer? Where do you normally create your artwork?

TC: I have two sides two my work, I create quirky digital Illustrations, I try to focus on using fluid shapes, bold colour choices and I do find I naturally lean to using organic crops on my images. I think the curves frame the image much nicer, I also quite like to let an aspect or two of the Illustration break free from the crop. I try to tie the digital work to something handmade by using handmade textures within the image. The digital work I make for commissions from magazines, zines or books etc. Due to the speed that I can make them.

I also create limited edition screen prints because I love the process and it gives my work a valuable side to it, so I can sell them in galleries and shops. I like to dart between working on my sketchbook, my mac and the print studios, which is turning out to be a very good balance.

COTW: Finally what are your plans for the near future?

TC: My plans are to keep promoting my name, looking for new commissions, keep making work I’m happy with, get my prints in as many galleries and shops I can and the big Pick me up that’s coming up soon.

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