Artist/illustrator Tom Eglington is just as much a surrealist as he is a sci-fi enthusiast. The UK visual artist caught my eye after being part of an augmented reality book known as Prosthetic Reality. Spearheaded by Australian artist Sutu, the book features a downloadable app where you can scan your phone over the art and make it come to life. Eglington was one of the featured artists and I've been following his work ever since. His creations exist in a world of brightly-colored blends of nature with science. Ballroom events with tanks full of aliens. Doctors examining holographic frogs. Hookah bars with mermaids in aquariums. Ancient typewriters overgrown with lush ivy. It's a world both unpredictable and not too far from the impending future. I sent some questions over to the multifaceted artist and we talked a bit about sci-fi, good music, and multi-tasking an assortment of upcoming projects.
How has 2017 been treating you so far?
Pretty good. I have a lot of work on this year and it is keeping my mind distracted from the daily horror show of the current state of the UK! I’ve only been fully freelance in the last few years so it is incredibly reassuring to have a full schedule for the next six months. It is a mixture of writing and illustration, and I like it that way, it gives me enough variety to keep everything fresh. I’ve been so busy that I’ve even had to turn jobs down, which has never happened before.
For those unfamiliar, how would you describe yourself / your art in a couple of sentences?
Myself: a problem-solving mammal with problems.
My work: A visual Petri dish of the twenty-first century which has developed a mysterious green bacteria that sporadically spells out prophetic messages, all bad.
Your creations seem to blend sci-fi with surrealism. Have you always been into futuristic concepts?
Yes. We seem to be living through an age of incredible scientific wonders and horrors. We’re now the first generation to be fully integrated with technology and it is changing us and our culture in ways we can barely discern. Sci-fi is the perfect genre to explore those ideas. For me, the surrealism part is really trying to create something non-linear. I don’t think we can faithfully predict the future, so introducing random elements ends up reflecting that more accurately. This century is going to be far weirder than anyone can foresee.
What's the rest of the year looking like for you?
Busy. I’m currently working on a project to encourage literacy among children by using comics. I’m also writing another three-part Judge Dredd strip, as well as a second series of Blunt. I’ve just finished creating another AR print for Eyejack, as well as some art for a possible New York show. On top of that I’m working on my own comic project, with some interesting collaborations waiting in the aisles.
What's the art scene like in the city where you reside?
Terrible. I live in a seaside town with nothing much of interest happening apart from stabbings and mild racism, but the next city along, Brighton, has a thriving art scene, so that helps. Also, the internet means I connect with a whole lot of great artists and creative types.
Outside of illustrations, do you have other hobbies/interests? I read one of your bios that said you're also a writer?
I am a writer, yes. It’s sort of weird as I seem to have two separate identities that don’t seem to cross over. One group of people know me only for my writing, the other group only know me for my drawing. I mainly write comic strips now for 2000AD. As well as creating my own series Blunt (with artist Boo Cook), I regularly write Judge Dredd scripts. A recent highlight was working with legendary artist Brendan McCarthy. Apart from his ground-breaking comic art of the eighties and nineties, he also co-wrote Mad Max: Fury Road, as well as the bulk of production design.
How did you connect with Sutu and Prosthetic Reality?
My friend noticed a post on Instagram asking for submissions. It fitted nicely with stuff I was doing so I was keen to get involved.
What are some studio essentials?
Caffeine, yes. Music, yes – although if I’m writing it has to be music without words. As far as equipment, I now have a proper drawing board to work at as I was getting recurring pain from bad posture. I also have become obsessive about having the right pen – the best ones come from Japan.
What have you been listening/watching/reading as of late?
Magic Sword, Tame Impala, The Jodorowsky Dune soundtrack, DJ Shadow, as well as the audiobook by American comedian Doug Stanhope, Digging up Mother, which is hilarious – he’s like a drunk Tyler Durden. The last thing I watched was American Gods. I’m enjoying it but trying to shake the feeling it is a ten hour music video for freeform jazz. Oh, and the new series of Twin Peaks has been a pleasant surprise. As for comics, both Head Lopper (Maclean) and Ancestor (Sheean and Ward) were recent highlights.
Do you have any advice for artists working on their craft?
Do the best you can do. We’re living in turbulent times and it’s more important now to find the stories and art that will carry us through.
Any final words of wisdom or closing thoughts?
Don’t look too long in the Petri dish.