Artist Tom Burbidge‘s abstract paintings combine a love of creative expression and contemporary design, and are now adding some artistic flair to the Coggles bricks and mortar store in Alderley Edge. We wanted to get to know a bit more about the established artist, from what makes him tick to the aesthetic and process behind each creation.
#1 Tell us a bit about your artistic journey?
I have been painting since 2004, naturally drawn to portraiture from a young age I spent lots of time in practice painting the figure. After graduating my Fine Art BA Hons degree and in fear of producing artwork commercially, I decided to learn how to cut hair and also travel, having lived in Sydney and Amsterdam during this time.
On my return to England I opened a men’s hair salon called Notjust in Manchester, which is now award-winning. This acts as a business to provide me the network, showroom and further contact with the creative world daily.
Over the past 5 years I have painted full-time alongside the business, selling growing numbers of work to professional football players, elite business owners, working professionals in Manchester, London and in Europe. I work alongside interior designers on high end specification homes, show in galleries and continue to sell privately. Nova Fine Art Leamington Spa have partnered with me for 2020 and I will go on to produce works for all their future galleries.
#2 Typically, how long do each of your pieces take?
Pieces generally take 5-10 sittings, I paint in layers, each adding depth, details and colour at each stage, the ending/length of time is never pre-determined but instinctively arrived at.
#3 You’re an abstract artist, do you plan on sticking to this signature style?
I LOVE expression, the feeling and therapy in the production, abstraction gives me the range of possibility and a wide boundary for energy to be exerted. The subject matter may change yes. My style is me, its moulded by my unconscious, my life and ultimately cannot be changed. The decisions in marks are made before I can practically decide on them, I simply just attempt to control them as they come, like singing I guess. To add, I have been drawing the figure from life for over 14 years, pencil and ink sketches which I have to do in contrast.
#4 As an artist do you have any advice to offer those wanting to follow your path?
Keep on doing it, paint more, paint less, travel and find a market for what you do and move there.
#5 Where has your art been featured?
Recently my work has been seen in many new places as sales stretch to the USA rather commonly and my 2022 shows really taking focus this year . I had some good attention on Medium.com which has brought some nice credit to what I do, it’s exciting when I get views and critique from local journalists in Manchester, but now I seem to be attracting attention much more further afield.
I have had two solo shows this year, the first was ‘Eventually’ at Nova Fine Art, Marlow, Buckinghamshire. This showcased a year of large-format work in one Gallery space, a great experience and turn out. One month later I held my second show of the year ‘Claimed’ which gave viewers an ‘in studio’ experience as I took on a HUGE 55 canvas mural painting which was later catalogued and sold in share like individual paintings.
#6 The colours used differ from painting to painting, some brighter than others, is this down to what the buyer has specified for their commission, or is there method behind it?
70% of my work is sold reactively so it simply is a natural occurrence that paintings differ with mood, season and varying inspiration. They are later bought by anyone who desires a particular piece. 30% is commissioned privately by my audience online and by an interior design company I partner with. I tend have a workflow that carries me all year round, selling around 20-30 per year.
#7 What’s the next step for your career?
I have one more show booked for this year in September time which will conclude this year’s calendar. Next year I hope to get some of my paintings abroad, hopefully, a representation in Antwerp or Copenhagen is the plan.
My work in the hair industry is also developing, Notjust – Manchester where I continue to cut part-time and run a business. I see it all as the same thing though, my enterprises are all creation, style, Art and branding, it is one voice. This summer we redesign and refit the space so lots of hard work at the moment!
In my Art practice, the idea for me is to continue doing what I love and meeting as many people in the process, I will be doing 20 solo shows over 10 years (3 down so far). Its part of a promise I made to myself years ago that I’d follow my truths, staying on a creative path is troublesome but it’s necessary for my well being and voice. Creativity can be a curse if you let it, it must be used, released and given a purpose in my life.
Patience and Passion…
#8 How would you describe your style?
My style seems to have rested in recent years, something that I scrutinize, perhaps obsessively at times!
I like to align clothing with my Art ideals, I’d say its easier to focus on words first when picking clothing it helps me, here’s my list and if it fits I usually buy it!
Brands like A-cold-wall, Y-3, Matthew Willaims (MMW), Heliot Emil and 11 BY BORIS BIDJAN SABERI are my current favourites and fall into my ‘criteria’.