From animation to advertising to print design, Thomas Jackson has pursued many creative endeavours before fine-tuning his distinct illustration work, which you've likely seen beautifully sprawled across large walls throughout the inner west.
Moving to Australia when he was young and living on the edge of a national park provided endless inspiration from being surrounded by nature. “Playing and taking my dog for a walk down into the park got me looking at all the new and interesting wildlife and plant life of this country. I was instantly fascinated by these new creatures and it has never left me.” This inspiration plays through his detailed illustrations of wildlife and wooden structures which show the beauty and intricacies of the natural world.
From delicate watercolours, to wood panels, to large scale street art, his work takes on a unique life and process through the medium he is working with. “I like all types of works for different reasons. Doing small intricate illustrative works are almost meditative while creating large scale mural works almost feel like working on construction site. Both have interesting challenges and have made me learn new skills that I never thought I would need when setting out to make a living as an artist.”
You can see Thomas’s murals scattered throughout Sydney streets, one of his most recent as part of the Newtown Festival themed ‘Home is where the heart is’, where he used his platform to communicate his feelings about changes in Sydney’s laws. “I wanted to say something about Sydney’s lockout laws and their inability to keep the people they are supposedly keeping safe out of harm’s way. Newtown has always been a safe place for it’s locals, but the lock out laws have pushed the city party crowd into Newtown bringing with it the violence and unfamiliar crowd that is no longer in the city’s clubbing area, also which are suffering.
“The butterfly symbolizes the ongoing beauty and resilience that is the people of Newtown. Whilst the pinecone with it’s small pieces falling away represents the unfortunate loss of culture and safety that has always been here. Although the ground which the people stand seems to be falling away piece by piece, Newtown and the community stays strong and will always be there to hold up its people with a safe home for them to perch.”
The role of street art in neighbourhood is important for the artists and for the community. “Street artworks and murals are kind of a forced viewing scenario, in the best possible way. It’s a great way to get someone to recognise your work and give you more of a chance to speak to people about your work and hear their thoughts.”
The Perfect Match Public Art program in Sydney helps to connect artists with homeowners who want to collaborate on street art projects that enrich the public environment. When asked to jump on board, he jumped at the opportunity, painting a huge gorgeous mural of a male Purple Finch on Denison St in Camperdown. Sydney. “Support from the council and government is essential. Artists need opportunities small and large to enrich their journey and creative pursuits.”
Taking his creativity into a new realm, Thomas started teaching at CATC design college over the last 3 years, sharing his experience with eager creative students. “I’ve really enjoyed it, it forces me to take my one advice and stay motivated. I’ve never been as well versed in the business side of things, and would quite happily stay locked in a room working away, but this challenges you in a different way”.
Moving into a new shared studio space has also pushed the creative development of his work. “Im now at ‘Vic Studios’ above the Vic on the Park Hotel in Marrickville. I’m so fortunate to work not only with friends of mine but people who I find incredibly inspirational. Also, having such a variety of style and methods of work is incredibly grounding and can teach you new ways to work or opportunities for finding grants, festivals or shows. Other people there are Georgia Hill, Scott Marsh, James Jirat, Fintan Magee, Jess Cochrane, Will Cooke and Aqua Man.”
The next step is heading to America for shows and new inspiration. “I have show coming up at Antler Gallery in Portland OR. The theme for the show will be showing some of our lesser known, but equally as beautiful wildlife in a new country. I’m intending on showing works as if I’m a natural history illustrator just back form a new exploration to a new continent. I can’t wait, I’m hoping to be painting more over there again and hopefully organising some additional exhibitions and large scale works in other parts of the USA.”
Before he jets off, you get the chance to see Thomas Jackson in action, painting our Roller Door at COMMUNE Co-Working this Saturday from noon. Swing by for a free BBQ, beer, meet like-minded peeps and watch the evolution of his latest work unfold.