Junior Tomlin is the founding member of the London cartoon workshop (1983). Junior learnt sequential art, he has worked for various companies such as John Brown Jr. Publishing, Titan and Panini – famous for producing football stickers and licensed to produce Marvel comics in the UK. He worked as a digital colourist for them with credits including Action Man, Transformers Armada, Spectacular Spider-Man, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for Titan , Judge Dredd for 2000AD and numerous pocket book covers and collectors cards. His work on film include “Nightbreed” a Clive Barker horror film, Lost in Space where he was employed as a texture map artist and Ultra Guardians where he worked as a character designer and concept artist. He has also worked for Cartoon Network, 2000AD, Audio Rom, Saddlers Wells Theatre, IBT and many others.
By 1989 Junior got into illustrating record covers when while working at the London cartoon Centre in Ladbroke Grove, there he met the manager of the London band Renegade Soundwave, the manager was looking for a airbrush artist to do artwork for the band . He was in the right place at the right time, that was his first record cover, the track was called The Phantom. In the beginning of the 90’s Junior’s style had progressed and he moved into creating rave flyers. His airbrush technique combined with his futuristic style of delivery earned him the name the SalvadorDali of Rave‚ in the late 90’s when the rave scene was exploding all over Britain. He amassed a considerate following among the Rave community in London, Tokyo and Australia where his early flyers are still in high demand and considered as collector’s items.
Some of the most memorable and iconic images associated with dance and rave music were created by him – inspiring a generation to create art and make music. His numerous artworks Include covers for leading dance labels, editorial llustrations, rave flyers and posters
In the community in London Junior has worked on two of the many portobello wall projects (portobello recollection) and the next instalment (the art wall ) put on by a local art gallery where he laid out the entire design. He has worked with local bands in the area providing his artistic eye on creating record covers for them .He also taught Djembe at the emb rooms at the base of Grenfell tower and at a local junior school for black history month.
Let us begin by getting to know you Junior, you have an expensive career of over 35 years as an illustrator and digital artist, can you please tell us where are you are from and how you begun your journey into art.
I’m from West London Ladbroke Grove and have lived here all my life, my parents were both Jamaicans who emigrated to the U.K in 1958. As a child loved watching the old black and white sci fi TV shows programs like Star Trek and all the shows by Erwin Allen. At school I loved art and used to draw on my school books and for friends. In the 4th year I wanted to become a Graphic designer did my A level art, got accepted into Byam shaw school of art to do a one year foundation course, then went to Goldsmiths College to study graphic design. I got my diploma after three years with the hopes of getting a job in my field but fate had different plans for me and I became an illustrator.
Your creative credits include working on cover art as well as working for Marvel, Panini, Titan, and 2000AD . Can you please tell us about the process of making your work We want to know a little about the significance and scope of your work. How do you make your work? Are there particular tools/materials/software/technology that you use? Is there a connection between your process and your artwork’s message?
The significance of my art rages from science fiction with helpful slices of surrealism and Afrofuturism, different themes and concepts are interwoven in my art. In the early days of my career I used to use a Airbrush to create my art, the piece began with the idea and a lot of sketches, when I’m satisfied with the drawing I redraw it on a larger scale on line board capable of taking masking film low tack semi transparent film. When the drawing is finished I start airbrushing, spraying and re-masking areas until the piece is finished. Nowadays I shifted into digital art at the time the programs were not up to scratch, photoshop kept on crashing and my computer wasn’t powerful enough in those early days, many upgrades later I was given a program called Fractal Design Painter and this program unlocked my talents with the app having a digitising tablet was essential. Things were going good until one Apple update rendered my Wacom tablet useless and I changed and got into vector art using Adobe illustrator.
With your long career as a digital artists you have seen creative technologies come and go, what is one creative resource can you not live without?
The resource I can’t live without is a working copy of Adobe illustrator, it is versatile beyond words and it’s great in my art the creation of logos signage and other things to print, the beauty is found in the fact that the art is scalable and if doesn’t rely on resolution. The other resource is my imagination.
You describe yourself as the “Salvador Dali of rave art” Can you describe the evolution of your artistic style? (Have you always made art with this unique vision or what was your turning point into recognising this style was your authentic “you”?)
The tagline Salvador Dali of rave art was given to me nearly 30 years ago by a fan of my art in a letter he wrote to the manager of Kickin Records were I did many records for . My art as I would put it is ever evolving, what I did 20 years ago is mainly different to what I do now the threads of my past works is carried within the newer pieces, technology science heritage and the feeling within my works of different possible futures.
Do you think African culture affects your work? How so?
Yes I do there is so much cultural heritage there to draw from and aspects of this comes out in my work. I have a description, “My art is as colourful as African fabric “.
Who/what inspires you?
I’m inspired by a many things one being the future, at heart I am a futurist. Love nature and science, history art and visuals, not to mention animation.
What piece of advice would you give to young aspiring African digital artists?
Keep creating turn over every stone experiment keep pushing on, and when your working with clients get a proportion of your fee up front.
Any current projects you can talk about? What is your ultimate dream project that you canʼt wait to work on, or be a part of someday?
I’m working on a few projects one being NFT based and five illustrations i’malso coming up with ideas for a future exhibition. I would love to design something for one of the Starwars or even StarTrek franchises.
Lastly, Where is your favorite place to work? Please share a photo.
Love working in my sitting room at time surrounded by my art and reference books