Sunday, 7 June 2009

Tom Gauld

For the next installment of my 'illustrators on self publishing' interviews we have Tom Gauld

Why did you decide to start publishing your own work?

When I started self-publishing I was at the Royal College of Art and there so much equipment and encouragement for making things that when I (I should really say 'we' as I did my first book called 'First' with my friend Simone Lia, although it was initially my idea to make something) had the idea I just went ahead and did it without thinking it over too much. Also I was seeing some self published work in 'Gosh' comics and had a friend (Matt Abbiss) who'd self published a few things. I liked the idea of being in control of all aspects of the comic (writing, drawing, design, production etc) and learning by doing it myself.

What are your favourite and least favourite aspects about this process?

Distribution is definitely my least favorite part of the process. By the time you get to this point you're pretty much exhausted with the project and then you've got to take it to shops, send emails, put things in boxes, write lots of addresses, queue in the post office etc etc. This is sort of why I've done 'Hunter and painter' and my 'The Gigantic Robot'* with Buenaventura Press, because with them I can be involved in all the parts I like best but they sort out the printing and distribution.

My favourite part of self publishing is probably being able to really make the form fit the content by designing the whole thing and choosing the materials.

How would you say your personal publishing projects have affected the commercial side of your work?

I know that a lot of my work comes from people who've bought my books. And creatively the two definitely inform each other. My next book 'the gigantic robot'* features a character which started out in a commercial job (and actually that job came from someone who'd bought a comic).

How important do you think fanzine's and self published books are as a platform for new illustrators and designers?

They can really help. It's much more interesting to send out a nice publication rather than a boring set of samples. Plus it means someone might stumble upon your work in a shop (or whatever) which will (I think) make it seem more interesting, and mentally file it as 'fun'. Whereas if it was sent in to them they might see it as 'work'
Also self made things are a good way to try things out, to show how you'd like your work could be used, and a good way of keeping busy when things are quiet commission-wise.

What is your take on how the internet is changing the distribution of the medium?

It makes it about a million times easier to get your work out there, which is really great. A self publisher can do much larger print runs (which are cheaper per copy) as their potential market is the whole world.

Finally where do you think the future of the medium will lead?

I don't know really. I think that better distribution through the internet is leading to a better market for idiosyncratic things so hopefully there'll be lots of interesting new stuff coming along.

Big thanks to Tom for all of his interesting answers and you can see more of his work at Also keep your eyes peeled for his upcoming book 'The Gigantic Robot' which looks amazing so far from what he has leaked on his flickr.

Last interview will be Travis Millard

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