Tom Crump | Issue Ten Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your work

I was raised in Leicester, and from an early age was dragged through galleries and museums across Europe by parents – determined to broaden my mind I suppose. It seemed to work anyway. I fully realised my medium when attending a college course for Photography, which led to me completing my degree in Photography and Video at De Montfort University, and then a Master’s degree in The Arts. University was where I started to really hone my identity as an artist and tighten my practice as a photographer as well.

Tell us about the themes you pursue in your work

My work deals with humanity and our intrinsic connection to each other and nature. Through my last three series I’ve explored the male form, gender and sexuality in various forms. I am fascinated by how the natural and the manmade have shaped one another, and how society has moulded around our world’s limitations and forms. Through the lens I aim to create something thought provoking, using photography as a baseline to edit and play around with to create my final pieces.

What art do you most identify with? any specific influences or research areas?

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly who or what I identify with most as an artist, but I originally started out as a documentary photographer, following a parish of Catholic priests preparing for Mass, but as my practice developed, I realised my work was much closer to Fine Art. The main influences including artists such as John Dugdale, Francesca Woodman and Herbert List. All three utilise their location like another character in their work and have been incredibly important to how I create and evolve my work.

How would you describe your approach to photography?

I think today photography is the most common art form in the world. Partly due to social media, technology developing and the quality of camera improving, but I also think that artists have more of a platform than ever to share, get feedback and learn from each other, which can only be a good thing. I think the shift to a more analogue era of photography in some areas is not a coincidence. Some people are purists about film photography and its processes, and while I am passionate about it myself, I cannot deny the convenience and high quality of cameras. I think there is a balance to be had, no side of the debate is right or wrong in my eyes.

What is your working process?

I always try and start with a visual identity I am trying to produce. By seeing elements in an image I know how to begin. Whether it is a prop, a background, a facial expression, I have something to grasp on to. Photography is a huge part of what I create but it isn’t always the final product I produce. I find myself spending more time manipulating the images I have taken. There are always dozens of versions of each image before the final image is released. And it may be a cliché but my partner really does push me to do more than I ever thought I would, and she is definitely the key to how I schedule time to work, time to draw inspiration and opens my eyes to new art in every form. She knows how to spark ideas in me and I wouldn’t be talking to you lovely people without her.

What is your most essential tool in creating art?

There’s an obvious answer here in my camera but that’s a given, so I suppose my essential tool would have to be my laptop. Without it I wouldn’t be able to edit and create my works with as much precision and ease, and it’s also an amazing tool to find inspiring work instantly. I can find opportunities to share artwork, and manage my website and social media. It’s essentially my office on the go.

How do you navigate the art world?

I navigate it very freely thanks to the internet. I try and attend as many exhibitions as I can, wherever I am, and I try and talk to as many artists than can stand me. I spend some of my time working at Leicester Gallery and through this I’ve met some truly amazing and inspiring people. I think I was naïve to believe a few years ago that in England, London is the be all end all. There is art everywhere, in every small town, in every major city, sometimes you just have to seek it out. Creative people will always strive to create.

Are there any upcoming exhibitions or projects in the works?

I was incredibly fortunate in 2019 to show my work internationally for the first time, in Rome and Zurich, as well as locally in the UK. I spent a lot of time exhibiting and not enough time creating, and it was a real shame, so I aim to find a much better balance in 2020 and beyond. However I’m speaking to a few people at the moment and hopefully I’ll be able to share some exciting news soon.


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