Q&A with Tom Clohosy Cole, illustrator of Miramar | The Lakes Distillery Q&A with Tom Clohosy Cole, illustrator of Miramar – The Lakes Distillery

Introducing the illustrator behind the latest release of The Whiskymaker’s Editions Lakes Single Malt, Miramar.

We partnered with Tom Clohosy Cole,  a freelance digital illustrator to create the sunset scene presented on the latest Whiskymaker’s Reserve release, Miramar. We specifically worked with Tom as his vivid work carries a lot of detail and interest, with his painterly approach and use of light bringing hope and optimism to his work. Miramar, a versatile and expansive whisky, captures that European sunset cafe culture where day drifts into dusk, time advances, shadows lengthen, conversations meander.

How would you describe your artistic style?

I find it difficult to define it. Simply I’d say I am a digital illustrator. My style is painterly and textured and uses quite bright/rich colour combinations, and leans towards the realistic.

I like being outdoors and I like big open spaces, so I try to get that across in my work. I find I’m am inspired by the natural world and I try to share it when I can in my work. I always get inspired when I go to new places, so I try to travel as much as possible.

Tom Clohosy Cole, Miramar Digital Illustrator

What/who are your biggest influences as an artist?

My uncle and my dad are both painters so they paved the way and encouraged me to pursue a career in the arts. The Studio Ghibli films – I started watching these films when I was doing my foundation and I fell in love with them and all things Japanese. I still find them very inspiring today. Countless illustrators that I looked up to while I was growing up. David Hughes, who gave a talk at my college and was my first introduction to an illustrator. Lots of painters. Peter Doig being a favourite. The recent Harald Sohlberg exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery left a really big impression on me, his work is mesmerising.

What are your art tools of choice?

I make all of my work in Adobe Photoshop and I use a Wacom Cintiq to draw directly into the program. I also use Procreate on the iPad, which is an amazing bit of technology. I sometimes use traditional mediums for my personal work and I like to paint with gouache for fun outdoors, but for my commissions, I’ve always worked digitally. It makes my process much quicker and allows things to be changed easily. I keep a sketchbook close by but find I’m often writing notes in it more than I’m drawing in it.

What is the creative process like?

For me, it always starts with a brief from a client, or some direction as to what they’d like to make. I then go away and make some rough sketches, trying out different compositions and arrangements. I start really loose and then I take three or four of the best ones and neaten them up before sending them over. Sometimes there’s some back and forth, and then when everyone is happy with the rough, we proceed to the colour illustration. The most creative part for me is the very first sketches. It’s when I get to try lots of different ideas out and generally not be too precious. Once everything has been decided and I’m working on the colours, it is more straight forward for me as everything is already planned out in my head.

How do you build your final illustration?

Using the rough as a guide, I draw in every shape on a new layer as a block of colour. I generally always start from the back and work forwards to the foreground as I artwork the image. The sky often sets the colour/tone for everything so I find it best to start here. I then start to add shadows to each of the layers and highlights. It can take a long time depending on how detailed the image is. It’s only at the end that I spend a while working on the colours as a whole. I use adjustment layers and then I go in and tweak areas until the balance feels harmonious. I keep tweaking things until something clicks into place and I’m happy with it.

Anything else that you’d like to share?

For the Lakes image, I loved doing the image research, I’ve not been to Lisbon yet but studying the pictures online gave me a real desire to visit. I took my time to find good references for the different iconic buildings and I also studied the smaller buildings. I was looking specifically at how the buildings look in the evenings when they are lit up by the festoon lights and the setting sun.
It was also fun working on the image as a bigger piece. We created a much wider scene that is seen on the bottle label, which allowed me to get even more information and sense of place into the wider image.

I really enjoyed making this illustration, and drinking a whiskey in Lisbon as the sun sets is right up the top of my list for when the world opens up again.

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