The work of illustrators in newspapers, magazines and advertisements is all too often overlooked.

And yet, says former commercial illustrator Tom Frost: “People can put as much love and attention into that sort of thing as they do fine art – but it might be ignored completely. It’s seen as just being there to pretty up the page.”

These days Tom has given up digital commercial work in favour of hand-made screen prints, which sell in galleries and at exhibitions up and down the country.

He is currently showing in what is his biggest exhibition to date at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

‘The Wild Collection’ is based around the flora and fauna to be found in the parkland at the West Bretton venue.

For Tom, who is originally from Bristol but now lives in rural Wales, the project to produce themed works for exhibition and sale at the YSP was a “wonderful experience.”

“I’d come back like a shot, if they wanted me to,” he said.

“The sculpture park is absolutely amazing.”

Tom paid two visits to the park in order to gather ideas and was supplied with detailed lists of the animals, plants and trees to be found in the area – from the sheep who graze the sculptural slopes to butterflies, birds, bees, fish, foxes and hares.

 

“Mine is a representational, graphic style,” he explained.

“I took ideas from old school posters and used bold colours.”

As well as prints, he has produced marquetry and wooden toys.

“They are plywood, fitted with old Meccano wheels and printed. A real labour of love,” added Tom, whose partner is childrens’ book illustrator Theresa Murfin.

Tom has been fortunate in making a living from art since he left the Falmouth College of Art nearly 15 years ago.

He worked for national newspapers such as the Guardian and Observer and also produced illustrations for supermarket magazines.

“There is an awful lot of work out there,” he said, “so you can earn a living. But at the moment there are also a lot of illustrators prepared to work for free on the internet, which undercuts things.

“It’s not a hopeless situation though for someone who is determined and prepared to put in the effort.”

‘The Wild Collection’ is at the YSP until September 7.

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