Thomas is one of those dudes we’d been admiring from afar on Instagram for a little while, before being pretty shocked the other day when we noticed he was posting about his degree show. Surely he wasn’t an undergrad!
Turns out he was. And his degree show was most excellent: probably our favourite we’ve seen this year. A really unusual use of a medium that everyone wishes they could do something with (vacuum forming), and a really unusual body of work for an illustration grad. So we decided to have a chat with him at his studio about what life post-graduating holds.
You’ve just had your degree show! Congratulations! How’s it been? What did you show?
Cheers! Yeah I’m really buzzed, it’s been great and really flew by: I’ve been prepping and making my final project all year so it’s crazy to think it’s all finished (and now here squeezed in my flat, done). I’ve been really pleased with the response too, I wanted to show something the same but different and this year I have really been thinking about how I can apply my drawings to physical things, so I’m really looking forward to carrying this on in my work.
I made three pretty big plastic reliefs that were self manifesting shrines / totems / omens to ‘Plastic Fantastic’ societies – probing throw-away culture and mass consumption by acting like an advert for the problem. I wanted to really sugar coat them, using bright colours to draw you in and heighten the response to the issue presented as it isn’t necessarily immediately obvious. I hope they act as thinking points for reflection on our tricky relationship to our environment and our place within it, as part of it, rather than outside of it. Then alongside these, I had a series of three risos that were doing the opposite, drawing experiments with sombre appearances that are a lot more upbeat in their context. So they were moody but actually not, whilst these overbearing, glossy reliefs told a deeper story.
I really loved making them, from drawing to forming and whacking together the frames, I really got to engage with the medium through the making process, which doesn’t happen often when working predominantly digitally, so that’s definitely something I want to explore more, by finding ways to get analogue outcomes from a digital input – and it was just cool to work so long on one project and see it slowly come together.
Who’re your top also-graduating pals?
The work coming from the Material Futures MA at CSM this year was really strong – I loved Charlotte Kidger’s beautiful transformation of CNC waste in to columns of furniture but the whole show was great and it was amazing to see so much top work throughout the college. I also checked out Brighton’s In Cahoots and the RCA shows – it was cool to see the work coming from other unis – one of my faves was Dominik Langloh’s (RCA MA Visual Communication) interactive type face, that encouraged you to play and engage with it – it was such a cool way of presenting a typeface.
What does post-graduate life hold for Thomas Hedger?
I’ve just become part of Grand Matter’s roster, which I’m stoked about – I’m really looking forward to working alongside their amazing lineup and am going to take the opportunity to keep exploring, developing my work, to see where we can take it.
Generally, I’m taking a more considered approach to my work by thinking about the application of drawing. Approaching illustration now, I’m thinking about the ways you can manipulate, integrate and apply illustration differently – the more processes I learn along the way, the more I have to bolt on to my practice and the more potential I hope it brings to my work. I’m interested in how I can apply or integrate my work through exploring new interactions between drawing and other mediums / fields / modes of practice. I want to keep drawing but to constantly evolve and push my work, not just in style but in application as well – I hope I have opportunities to keep creating and see what happens.
I’m also working on a few projects at the moment with longer timelines – they’re a bit meatier, which is super exciting as I get to pour a lot more into them and have some fun with the work and also the creative direction.
Who and what are the biggest influences on your work?
I think growing up alongside tech and that sort of clashy colour, hi fuzziness of the 90’s, with the not perfect flat graphics of old cartoons has been the biggest influence. With all this, I was drawn to digital drawing and eventually found the biggest influence on my style in CAD drawings. I loved the accuracy and straightness of the lines and felt I could translate what I drew on paper with these lines. Smash that together with the rest and I think you can kind of see where my drawings come from. I love seeing what else I can bring to my style and I hope I keep developing.
Tell us about your workspace, and what inspires you on a day-to-day basis?
I work from home, so my workspace has moved around with me through London quite a bit for the last few years – now I’ve graduated I’m looking forward to spreading some roots and having a workspace for a good while longer. I love working from home though, it’s kind of symbiotic – I don’t really switch off so being able to sit down and crack on with something whenever I like really works with me. It’s always been for me about how I could work out everything else around me to allow me to still create rather than the the other way round so I like it.
I have a constant urge to draw that keeps me going – I enjoy the tactile-ness of being able to draw something and translate expression, to open a conversation about the things I look at and find interesting, pulling out the overlooked or subtle narratives of everyday life and trying to put together a story in a single image.