Trolls, owls, surfers and giants too – the picture book characters created by Bristol-based artist Tom Bonson are brimming with life, colour and a bit of light-hearted humour. As well as writing and illustrating children’s stories, Tom has seen his work brought to life in animated apps, and his unique style keeps audiences coming back for more.
With parents who were also illustrators, Tom comes from a creative family that he credits for much of his inspiration. “My mum religiously playing Simon and Garfunkel when driving to the zoo, my dad who would regale me with bite-size versions of Dickens novels,” he explains.
They also taught him how to see detail and the bigger picture, something that’s always manifest in his children’s book illustrations. After two years of Fine Art at Norfolk College, Tom completed an Illustration degree at Lincoln University.
Beginning with a rough composition in Photoshop, Tom traces the image onto paper and then renders it fully in pencils. The pencil drawing is scanned back into Photoshop where all the colour is added.
Tom loves creating worlds that viewers can get lost in, with colourful characters and little hints of detail that draw you in. Humour – usually ridiculous and jolly – plays an important role in his style as well.
Tom has been commissioned by clients including Pearson, Oxford University Press, the Sunday Times, National Wildlife Federation, Barrington Stokes, Accord Publishing, Dinardo Design and Glottogon.