What does a typical day in the life of Tom Campbell involve?
I've been a professional graphic designer for the past 10 or so years, and in my time I've worked for several high street shops before moving on to work on film posters and DVD packaging. Currently, I work for a big on-line retailer as their senior designer where I work across everything from fashion shoots to designs for gym gear - every day is different. Unfortunately, my job doesn't leave me much time for illustrating, so I tend to get up at 6am to get an hour or so of drawing in before I go to work. Depending on how full on my day has been, I'll try and do another hour in the evening in front of the television. When I'm not drawing, I'm out watching bands, falling off my mountain bike and trying to squeeze in a bit of gaming time.
When did you first become interested in illustrating?
I decided I wanted to start illustrating about 4 years ago to increase my graphic design skill set. It's taken me a while to get my work to the standard that I want it to be, and I'm learning all the time. The original racing colour illustrations took about 3 hours to do, but as I've learned more techniques they take closer to 15 hours to finish now. Originally my drawings were intended to be stickers rather than colouring pages, but as I always started by drawing the outlines then adding the colour in afterwards, I figured I might as well put them up in the line form for anyone who was interested to download. I was lucky that a couple of keen motorsport fans found my work and started sharing it on the internet and it has grown from there.
What are your favourite things to draw?
It might not come as a surprise, but it's cars. I draw using a technical drawing technique called foreshortening, and everything is drawn in 3 point perspective, so it requires a lot of planning and measuring. It's a slow process, but I find it satisfying to get my drawings as close to the actual car as possible. When I'm not drawing things with wheels, I've draw flat style portraits, and I favour a graphic art style over photo realism.
Where do you find inspiration?
The main inspiration for the Racing Colour project came from time spent with my dad was I was a kid watching car racing, either on TV or at a local race track. I was, and still am, car mad, and I would have loved to have had something like the Racing Colour book when I was young. Hopefully young petrol heads will enjoy it as much as I would have done. When it comes to picking cars, I get suggestions from followers on Facebook and Twitter all the time, and there are so many great new and classic race cars out there I'm always planning the next one. I've got a list of about 300 cars I'm still hoping to draw, so it may well be my life's work!
If you weren't an illustrator what would you be?
I studied music and have been in bands since I was a teenager, so hopefully I would have been able to make a living that way. But in all honesty, illustrating hasn't made me much money, and it's something I enjoy doing as a hobby. Later in my design career I'd like to get in to teaching and lecturing so I can pass on what I've learned.
Why do you think adult colouring books have become so huge?
Modern life is so hectic, and we spend most of our time staring at some kind of illuminated screen, either a computer, phone or television, that it's nice to switch off and do something simple and relaxing. I find drawing the cars for Racing Colour a great escape from the stress of the day job, and it's something that I can 'get in to the zone' with and work with a clear head. Concentrating on a colouring in page has the same effect. Plus, it's cheap, anyone can do it and very portable.
What does your working environment look like?
An absolute mess! I try and keep on top of it, but my desk is covered with model cars, reference books and magazines and various bits of computer. I work using Adobe Illustrator and an A3 graphics tablet which takes up what little space there is left on my desk.
Do you listen to music when you work? If so, who/what?
I listen to music pretty much constantly through out my day, sometimes mixing in some podcasts. I like everything from crushing heavy metal to Miles Davis and I have a big playlist of 4000+ songs I tend to put on shuffle whilst I'm working. At the moment I'm really in to albums by Kendrick Lamar, Modern Baseball, the new Modest Mouse record, Tame Impala and John Grant.
What are your favourite things in life?
Hmmm, well we've covered music, but I enjoy food almost as much. I'm not a great cook, but I'll give it a go. I had an early mid-life crisis and bought a little convertible sports car this year so I've spent far to much time tinkering with that. At the risk of sounding like a dating profile, travel, film and long walks are all good with me as well!
Finally, please give 3 words that describe your work.
Nerdy, complicated, car-shaped.