"Don't give up your day job!" says Tom Godfrey

When the subject of sci fi art comes into a conversation, one can’t help but mention this amazing artist who has made a name for himself for his craft, imagination and his persona. We’re talking about none other than the very talented Tom Godfrey. Read on for some insights into the creative mind of a legend.

Tom, welcome to the Bubble Couch! Tell us a bit about yourself. Who is the man behind these masterpieces?

Firstly, thanks for the accolade. Masterpieces, I wish :) They were a lot of fun to create and probably reveal quite a lot about the inner me, but I feel I still have so much to learn and while I like aspects of most of theses digital paintings, there remain areas that aren’t quite there. It really is a journey I guess.
For me, it started a good few decades ago in Zimbabwe, where, as a young teacher, I volunteered to design programme covers for various sporting and cultural events. I discovered I had a fairly off-beat humour and indulged this in my early attempts at cartooning. This, along with running the art department and creating giant backdrops for my wife’s school plays, satisfied my artistic hunger. Years later I taught myself how to paint in watercolour and after joining a local society, I was lucky enough to sell a few land and seascapes. After moving inland to Johannesburg, South Africa, I experimented with acrylic wildlife paintings as these were popular at the time and I wanted to try to get onto the artistic map, even though I was a part –time hobby artist. I did sell some work which spurred me on.

Your work is gorgeous and looks like a lot of pre-production planning goes into it. How do you go about starting off a piece?

Again you are too kind, but my ego thanks you :)

Sometimes the motivation is from an online competition theme and at other times I just start a pencil doodle, with absolutely no idea of where I am going. The moment a few intersecting lines start to look like something, I develop that idea. I used see the lines in 2D and I now realise I see the 2D shapes in a 3D perspective., which helps. 90% of my Sci Fi illustrations start as pencil sketches, which I scan and complete using Corel Painter. They can sometimes change a lot during this phase, while at other times I will leave a lot of the underlying pencil work for texture effects. So I guess most of my work is created intuitively. I am also quite lazy and don’t often bother to find ref material, a habit I must change. As an example, I am doing a motor-bike drawing at the moment, called “Out of Control” and the bike, is my idea of a bike, so the serious bikeys will probably fall over laughing :)

Have you ever considered publishing a children’s book?

Thanks to feedback from bubblers, yes I have. In fact bubbler K M Falcon has asked if I would like to collaborate with her on a book she has written for the early childhood age group. Negotiations are in the very early stages, but if it all pans out then I will let you all know. I am also considering writing and illustrating my own and have joined SCBWI (Society for Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators) with this in mind. I have not got any further than this at present, but it will be a serious member of my, “TODO” list for 2009.

Do you do this for a living or as a hobby?

I wish :) I am not yet making a living from my art, but I am working on it.

Have you had any professional training in regards to your art?

I majored in Art at the Teachers’ College I went to, but other than that I am self taught, barring a few kind mentors along the road. I taught art to primary school children for +_ 15 years and this was a great incubator for my imagination.

How do you promote your work, both online and offline?

Badly, I’m still not making a living from my art. :) RedBubble is without doubt my best promotional tool, although all the sales of my originals have been the result of people seeing them live and not online. My Sci Fi, Fantasy and Cartoon works have all benefitted from the online exposure and my rb sales have all, with a few exceptions, been from these images.

What has been your most successful work on RedBubble?

In terms of earnings, Cigarettes Can Kill-T and my 2009 Sci-Fi Calendar both share top spot.

In terms of numbers sold Sea Creature and Siamese Fighting Fish are at the winners.

What are some of the elements that inspire you?

I am inspired by the concept of future and technology. Today’s Sci Fi – tomorrows reality. It’s almost like Sci Fi artists get a preview of a possible world, sometime, somehow. I also do not like to take anything too seriously -hence my cartoons.

Who are some of your favourite artists on RedBubble? Or your favourite pieces of art?

Too many to list and I would hate to leave out someone and risk offending them. A number of my favourite artists are so, not only because of their art, but also because of their natures as warm, humorous, communicators.

What would you say to individuals starting off in this genre of art?

Don’t give up your day job, but don’t have a day job that will leave you too tired for art. Develop your art consistently, with a light hearted, experimental nature until you start to discover who you are, artistically, and what story you would like to share with the world. Join the worlds best online artists and enter competitions –not to win, but to learn and share. If you win, that is a bonus. Finally three words of advice…Draw Draw Draw :)

Thanks so much for the opportunity to share my thoughts on this amazing site, populated as it is, with so many diverse and creative minds, including all the people in the engine room driving RedBubble. Cheers all – happy bubbling…

Thank you Tom for sharing so much about yourself with us. We hope that you have all the success with your future projects and we look forward to have you on here. Please do not forget us when you’re a royalty!

- Faizan

Journal Comments

  • Rose Moxon
  • Anita Inverarity
  • MuscularTeeth
  • Paul Louis Villani
  • georgiegirl
  • Rowi