Having lived in Camden Town my whole life, moving to Sheffield to study was a strange experience. It can be hard balancing a life in two cities, one wishes that there were something you could bring with you to both places. Imagine my delight when I discovered the striking similarity between the dark yet fascinating cartoons I was used to seeing on the side of the Unicorn Pub down the road from me in Camden and the equally beautiful and twisted work on the walls and in the burger menus within The Harley, Sheffield.
The man responsible for these home comforts (and the beautiful artwork) is artist and illustrator Tom J Newell. Raised in Chesterfield, Tom J Newell has worked on all kinds of projects. Aside his fabulous wall murals he also produces paintings, comics, posters and all things in between. Born and raised in Chesterfield, he has now moved to Sheffield a five year stint in London, working closer to home in a city that is bursting with creativity.
Tom’s inspiration seems to spring from all over the place, which perhaps is what makes his work so unique. Taking influences from the Beano and Dandy as a child, he began drawing comic book characters, and was further influenced by video games and graffiti as he grew older.
Moonlighting as a DJ, its not just the visual that keeps his creative juices flowing. He also takes a lot of inspiration from music and literature. “Music and musicians inspire my artwork just as much as visual sources” he says, “I approach the construction of a new image by manipulating existing imagery”.
It’s not hard to see that Tom is a forced to be reckoned with, his illustrations alone have had something of a viral effect already. His artwork is splattered across the menus of the Twisted Burger Company, Kraken Rum and all over the walls of bars, tattoo studios and galleries.
What’s more, despite significant grounds for arrogance, Tom J Newell strikes me first and foremost as a a wholeheartedly Decent Guy. Won’t take my word for it? Ask Sheffield Children’s Hospital, where he ran workshops in 2010 “That was another great excuse to get out of the studio,” he told me “and seeing the approach that kids have towards drawing is always inspiring.”
Still working in his studio developing old doodles that he did in school and having his work put up all over sheffield and beyond, Mr. Newell is a fireball of compassion, talent and ultimately an unrestrained creativity. His imaginative, sometimes slightly unhinging illustrations are impossible to forget.
Curious? Visit TomJNewell.com.