I’ve been working with artist Tom Brown for some years now. I knew he had pagan leanings, but until we sat down to do this interview, I didn’t appreciate just how deeply that runs for him. Tom is a comics artist, he does book covers, tattoo designs and other such comissions. He also writes with much poetry in his style, and strange humour. After much deliberation, I did not include the bit of the interview where he accidentally invented an artist – the great medieaval Norwegian Yikes…. it was a rather rambling digression (although much fun). When I asked about favourite artists, Tom said ‘Yikes’ and I couldn’t resist going ‘haven’t heard of him’ and it all went a bit off the rails for a while.
Bryn: When did you realise art was something you were serious about?
Tom: Oh… gods. Very nearly as far back as I can remember.
Bryn: So you’ve always drawn?
Tom: Also as far back as I can remember. Yes. (Lions a lot at first, as I recall)
Bryn: Why lions?
Tom: No idea! They caught my imagination I suppose. No real reason why I should have been drawing lions at all! Then, some interesting attempts at drawing from dreams.
Bryn: What is your favourite thing to draw at the moment?
Tom: Oh…! Ok difficult one…. figures from shared dreams, and landscape. Preferably at the same time, though I’m having some new ideas as of very recently. Tentacles are a given!
Bryn: That’s the second mention of dreams. Those are important then?
Tom: Absolutely. the sleeping and waking sorts.
Bryn: Now for me, dreams (both sorts) have an inherently spiritual element. Is it the same for you?
Tom: Yes, it is the same for me. It has been so, as far back as I can remember.
Bryn: When did you become consciously pagan?
Tom: Consciously, it would have been around the time Cormac was born. So for around seventeen years I think, it predated him by about a year. Though, have realized since that in all important ways, I have been looking for a name for the way I experienced the world for long before that. Again, probably as far back as I can recall.
Bryn: Do your beliefs influence your art in any particular ways?
Tom: Impossible for them not to. I would say, in all ways. My sense of the numinous is the foundation of my art, I think. Or… more particularly, the numinous, in everything.
Bryn: You just used one of my favourite words. Numinous.
Tom: Mine too! Wanted to found a school of art around it when I discovered it.
Bryn: Who are your favourite artists?
Tom: Bosch was an early favourite. Then discovered engravings, Albrecht Durer. Rackham, Dulac… Then… I discovered the symbolists! *gasp* Odilon Redon, etc. On the other side, Dr Seuss… Jack Kirby, Mike Mignola, Miyazake. If I begin listing those currently working in sequential art this will become a very cumbersome list! Oh and Dave McKean’s work for the Sandman books.
Bryn: If you weren’t doing art, what might you be doing instead?
Tom: Don’t know how to answer that, really. Can’t imagine it. I can think of a lot of things I would love to do in addition to visual art. (important distinction. Writing is art, photography, music etc) Music would be one, actually, writing another, teaching, interested in film as well. Ritual. More things I want to study than I can possibly list.
Bryn: Where can people find your work online?
Tom: Most comprehensive would be the deviantart site – http://copperage.deviantart.com/
Also Serendipity http://www.serendipityartsales.net/Brown_T_Index.html
It’s now possible to buy t-shirts and at least one poster featuring Tom’s work from www.zazzlecom/copperage Anyone interested in seeing what Tom and I do together, have a look at www.hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com – its the weekly newspaper for Hopeless – an island off the coast of Maine, USA, which Tom invented some years ago, and I have since been populating with strange characters and entities. In a matter of weeks, we should have a webcomic at www.itisacircle.com – a story based in the same setting as The Hopeless Vendetta. In the meantime, news and interviews with other comics people get posted at www.itisacircle.com/blog