An Intro To: Tom Buchanan

Discover the artistic journey of Tom Buchanan, a London-based artist. From freelance illustration to pursuing personal creative interests, Tom’s recently published book, ‘Out of The Box,’ celebrates the significance and inspiration found in objects. With scissors, a camera, and music as his essential tools, Tom creates bold collages, captures moments of inspiration, and finds sonic inspiration. Explore Tom’s unique work as he transforms discarded ceramics into captivating narratives within framed plates. Join us as we delve into Tom’s artistic process and inspirations.

Name: Tom Buchanan

Born/Based: I was born and am presently based in London UK, even though I’ve moved around. This city seems to have a way of calling me back or beginning new chapters. I haven’t escaped quite yet!

Making art since: I’ve been drawn to making things for as long as I can remember, never one to get bored. I had a good ten years plus working as a freelance illustrator, taking on commissions in editorial, advertising & publishing before pursuing more personal creative interests beyond vocation.

Something you’d like our readers know about you: I’ve just had my first book published called ‘Out of The Box’ which is a celebration all about assemblage art, the significance and inspiration of found things, exploring the story behind objects and why artists like to collect. This project began innocently through a series of open submission exhibitions, requesting artworks that have “evolved, been created within, or even escaped from a box.” As well as helping me understand my own creative process, the study introduced me to some amazing artists from all over the world. The ambiguous ‘box’ in question could easily be a museum vitrine or an artists personal cabinet of curiosities, as much as a homage to one of Joseph Cornell’s shadow boxes. 

What are three tools/elements you can’t work without?  Scissors, a camera and music. I’m just going to roll with these choices symbolically. Firstly scissors are the true integral tool of collage that we simply can’t live without. It helps us take control and make some very bold decisions. Out of all art forms, I think photography is the most important and vital medium. A camera is a device of empowerment which anyone can use, it’s archival and allows us to play detective. I somewhat miss the delayed wonder developing 35mm film, the surprise in revealing what you’ve captured. Lastly I choose music as I’m like a sonic radar forever searching. Like discovering new things, sounds seem to catalogue my entire existence, I might not remember what I did yesterday, but today I might have just found a song that’s changed my life forever!

What do you think is the most important thing that defines your work as yours? I think my boxed framed plates have taken a rather unique trajectory. I like to use lonely discarded plates as storyboards, which I then illustrate and highlight within bespoke crafted box frames. I’m never quite sure where the narrative might go, the powder trails can be triggered by anything from the patterns, colours, textures or accidental imperfections of the original ceramic. The framing and naming process is fundamental as it provides a stopping point, the perfect stage in which to freeze frame and accentuate the story within. It’s a lovely size format that’s also quite practical to hoard.

Can you describe your work process? I’ve always been fascinated by the process of cause and effect, the union and collision between unlikely objects. The plates provide a great arena for such showdowns, where I can apply my own layers of texture such as prints and paint. The box frame is a magnificent way of exalting the absurd. I’m also fascinated how certain titles might work as larger graphic images, encouraging evolving themes such as the ‘Future Cities’ series, playing with urban architecture and dream worlds. I like playing with ongoing & recurring themes, my latest are Tyres and wheels.

Which artists would you recommend us to check out?  I think John Heartfield is a touchstone of photomontage, creating powerful anti-Nazi and anti-fascist artworks as political weapons, explosively reigniting the source that spawned them. Bringing things into the present I’d like to mention a couple of tactile artists who I’ve been lucky enough to feature in my book. Hastings artist Peter Quinnell never fails to make me smile, he’s a master presenter of detritus, brilliantly reanimating the ridiculous. The use of real objects in his art is an excuse for the collecting, which he jests is probably some sort of mental illness. Another extraordinary collector is Swedish artist Michael Johansson who’s intrigued by irregularities in daily life. His real-life Tetris sculptures are perfect archaeologies of the everyday compressed into harmonious rectangles or cubes. They are proof positive of the possibility of thinking inside and outside the box at the same time.  

What is your personal definition of collage?  Collage enables pure response creative immediacy. Anything goes, whatever form or technique that inspires.  A re-ordering of the universe at our very fingertips. amen

Learn more about Tom Buchanan on his Instagram.

Tom Buchanan, Red Mist
Tom Buchanan, The Haunting
Tom Buchanan, High Jinks
Tom Buchanan, Home Sweet Home
Tom Buchanan, Jubilee
Tom Buchanan, The Slider
Tom Buchanan, Blood Meridian
Tom Buchanan, Sentinel
Tom Buchanan, The Custodian

Tom Buchanan, Future Cities VII