*So, we're all for adventures, but when we found out that Thomas Hedger's sketch book had got lost in the post last week, we were heartbroken that we may never be able to see it. That Mr.Hedger has a clever head on his shoulders though and scanned the book before it reached us. We were so excited when we saw what he got up to that we couldn't wait to share it with you guys regardless. So here it is, narrowly avoiding a Royal fail, take it away Thomas....

Thanks for being a part of our Illustrated Journeys creative challenge and for taking the time to answer these questions.

No problem, it’s been a cool opportunity!

Firstly, can you tell me a little about how you’ve found yourself as an illustrator?

I couldn’t really consider doing anything else other than being creative. I especially enjoy rapid creative processes and my style of illustration allows this to happen. I like seeing progression through getting my ideas out, either on paper or digitally.

Was being a creative always on the cards for you?


Did you study or are you self-taught?

I wasn’t able to go to university after leaving school so I’ve been self-taught since then. Over the past year I’ve been able to give more focus to art, so I’m hoping to continue this and university isn’t off the cards.

What have been some of your greatest inspirations for your craft?

Inspiration for most of my drawings comes from everyday things. Often hearing a snippet of a conversation or seeing an interesting person, pattern or shape can lead to an idea, which manifests and evolves in my head. From this I can get out a finished piece on paper or PC.

What is your usual creative process when creating a piece?

I re-work and re-work an idea until I have something I’m ready to go with, that fits well within the space on a page. I normally jot down ideas on anything I can find, so keeping a sketchbook for a week was a challenge at first!

Have you seen a progression in your work from when you first began?

My graphics work has really developed over the past few years. I try to make time to do something every day, so overall progression isn’t noticeable until I look back through my illustrations – sometimes when I do, it seems like someone else has drawn them! I tend to work with a limited pallet for a period of time, changing it every so often and I think this impacts the style and content of what I draw.

The biggest struggle as an illustration?

I don’t know about a particular illustration but in terms of drawing, if the paper crinkles it’s out of here… Perhaps this is why I do a lot of stuff on the computer?

What would be some advice you would give to aspiring illustrators?

I’d say I’m technically still aspiring myself, so I guess just keep at it as long as you enjoy it! I draw regardless of whether or not I have something to draw, creating my own projects or personal work – I think this is good practice.

You live on a houseboat on the Thames! Tell us a bit about that!

It’s a recent thing; my partner and I weren’t very inspired by anything we could afford on the rental market, so we started looking into other types of living. We ended up buying a shell of a boat then spent all summer designing it and doing it up ourselves. It’s been great working on something like this from scratch as we could really run wild with the design; it’s still a work in progress but I’ll send over some photos! I definitely think it’s the best decision we’ve ever made.

And finally, what is your absolute aspiration?

This is a tricky one to explain as an achievable goal. Of course, like others, I’d like to be a successful creative but as long as I’m engaging with art I’ll live a happy life.

Not often do I give myself the opportunity to keep my sketches and preliminary’s together; I scrawl between scraps of paper, sticky notes and on bits of old post. Fundamental ideas can sometimes never make it into final pieces after being lost amongst an accumulating pile. Gather.ly’s opportunity definitely challenged this habit!

I’m not a messy guy but I often spark a thought so fast I need to scribble it down, reaching for whatever’s handy, so keeping the (beautifully bound!) book on me all day encouraged me to turn to it straight away.

With the brief to simply create, I tried to do so at every opportunity; I had been trusted with such a gem! I wanted the book to look good and feel natural – not so much a sketchbook and not a finished piece but a time lapse of my thoughts throughout the week. This approach led me to explore mediums I wouldn’t normally turn to - paper-cuts and colouring pencils – but they felt right so I went with it. It was very different to working on a PC with a mouse, and it was nice to get back to the grit of paper, not being able to undo a mistake and to feel the pencil marking each page.

The book is homage to things I had seen (or saw) that week in everyday life, the media or to some extent, imagined in my head. This allowed subject matter to vary between piles of rubbish, vectorised bus stop characters and more abstract pieces. Taking inspiration in this way made subject matter easy to come by and inspiration limitless. Though, as my work often attempts to draw impact from the space around it, working this into a set scale was difficult. It’s harder to achieve that impression when there isn’t much room left after a drawing. This made me more aware of my illustrations in respect to the available space and I hope the effect was maintained.

Being able to easily look back through work is pretty good - even if I change my mind about it and find mistakes in my pieces, I still see it as an accomplishment! It’s interesting to see progression to find ways of elevating my work and it’s certainly better than hoarding scraps of paper… Thanks Gather.ly – I had a blast!

A big thanks to Thomas for just being a really cool cat and producing something that we think is insanely unique. Here's to hoping the real book turns up on our doorstep soon but I think you'll agree that whatever happens, well done to Thomas for nailing this challenge.

If you'd like to see moor (boat puns) from Thomas Hedger check out his work here: www.thomashedger.co.uk