Aged just 17 years old, Tom Holmes is the latest artistic wünderkind to burst from the Sheffield scene. With Facebook buzzing about his promotional work for Tramlines festival, what else does he have up his sleeve? I find out:
What did you want to do when you were a kid?
A writer, originally my characters were made of words rather than pen marks. I started drawing the characters I wrote about, then the drawings came first and the stories followed. If I ever became a writer I think I would have to illustrate my book too, even though I never wrote kid’s stories.
Why did you want to go into art?
Getting into art ‘properly’ happened as a bit of an accident, I always drew and I had a style developing, but when I started drawing the bobbleheads I suddenly got suggestions that people might like to buy them. I gave it a shot and got into a really good gallery in Sheffield alongside some of the best artists in the city, which was an amazing start for me. It got me thinking that People might actually respond to what I do, and when the artwork I had in there sold it was confirmed.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I try not to copy other artists outright but a lot of the time my inspiration does come from other people’s work, which I think is fine so long as you’re not ripping anyone else off. When I work I tend to have videos of interviews with really big, successful artists playing in the background, and that motivates me to try and get onto their level. In the same way that a young musician might go to a gig, see the band on stage and think ‘I want to be up there’, I’ll go to a gallery and do the same with the artwork. I’ll go home and start coming up with some crazy ideas for a show I want to put on.
What do you do in your spare time?
I would say draw, but recently all the drawing I do has been much more purposeful, it’s always for a design job or an exhibition rather than just doodles filling up space. I’m pretty lucky that the ‘work’ I do basically constitutes a hobby, I’ve not really had to change the way I draw just because I’m doing it for someone else rather than for my own entertainment. People like what I do already, which is great because it means I can stay consistent.
Who’s your favourite artist?
Asking for a single favourite artist is a really difficult one, I like anyone who can apply themselves to a lot of different disciplines but still stay consistent and recognisable in their work. I like most of what comes out of Sheffield, but especially Geo Law and Mute, they’re two artists who I looked up to massively who also turned out to be really nice people. On a wider scale I’m a fan of Buff Monster and the Beast Brothers, their work is so clean and bold, something I really appreciate in art.
You take a lot of influences from music – who’s your favourite band/artist?
For the past year or so Enter Shikari have dominated my iPod. I got into Slipknot when I was about ten so I’ve never been a stranger to heavy music, I just love the energy and noise of a live show. If I want something calmer Gorillaz are usually a good choice, their music always reminds me of going to London (my favourite place outside of Sheffield) because I picked up a couple of their albums when I was there a few years ago. I’m pretty involved with the local music scene in Sheffield too, I’ve designed posters and CD covers for a few of the bands and there really is a huge amount of talent here that should be recognised and promoted.
What would you say is your biggest achievement?
I was recently part of a group exhibition in the middle of Sheffield, it was only up for about two weeks but my work was hanging with some of my artistic heroes, and I got a lot of exposure and sales from it. I hadn’t known that kind of recognition before, and since then I’ve been approached to do more and more work, which keeps me busy and motivated. The whole thing felt like a big achievement and a sort of step up from what I had been doing before.
What are your plans for the future?
I’d love to put on a solo show and see how that goes. I’m working on another group show but to have a whole exhibition to play around with and show off new and old work would be fantastic.