Interview with Tom Hardwidge

We previously wrote about Tom Hardwidge and his beautiful steampunk sculptures. Tom is for sure one of the most talkative artists :) we’ve met: happy and eager to describe in details what he does with so much passion. An interview about Bugs, Bees, Dragonflies and especially Butterflies. Of all kind. Please see below all the colors our favorite artist can offer :)


1. Do you have some artwork since you were a child?
I have managed to keep hold of a few bits and pieces from my childhood. I was never much into making three-dimensional sculptures though and most of my earlier artwork is either doodled cartoons or fine art from when I was at college. I still do life drawing from time to time.
2. Can you send us the first artistic manifests you had?
I’ve just found a few of my old sketches and cartoons. Not really related to my current work but it was very nostalgic going up into the loft and retrieving some of these which haven’t seen the light of day for many years. See here. Here are some little models I made as a bit of stress relief a few years ago. And here‘s some of my ink life drawings too. In terms of my first steampunk sculpture, that was a walnut I created last Christmas.


3. When did you start doing this?

A couple of years ago I came across Mike Libby’s insect Lab and absolutely loved his work. Then last year I went into my local gallery and saw a sculpture in the window. It was a heavy, welded metal insect which was really interesting but the price tag was too high for me at the time. I’ve always been a bit spontaneous so I decided to have a go at building a metal insect myself.

4. Why did you choose this medium to express yourself?
To be honest I don’t think it really expresses much of myself. My ink paintings and drawings involve more emotion than creating my sculptures. They are very therapeutic to create though, it’s very cathartic to stick some music on, lock myself away for a few hours and superglue my fingers together. I wish I could offer you a profound and philosophical answer to this, but it just looks really cool. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I just love the way it provides another way of viewing an object (or insect) in that steampunk forces the viewer to focus on the structural form of an insect, like a 3D blueprint.


5. When and how did you find your style?

I only started around Christmas last year so I’m still learning and adding different designs to my collection. My attention span is pretty short, so if something isn’t delivering results quickly I move on. I don’t want to undermine the skill of steampunk artists but what’s kept me coming back to this hobby is the fact that it’s really easy to make something look good. My first creation sat on my table as just a couple of wings for a month before I added legs and a body. But because I had added the little gears and steam pipes already it looked pretty cool and made the difference between me giving up and carrying on.
6. How do you work?
To be honest it is a hobby, so I work with whatever I find which has an interesting shape. I don’t have any long-term plans for my “art” (I don’t even know if that is the right term for it) and am happy to use whatever I can get my hands on. I love insects and there are a number of different species which I was really keen to try and recreate. I have completed most of these and you can see them on my site but there are a few which are going to be a lot trickier. Coincidentally a lot of my commissions which I have taken on recently are for different and slightly more ambitions creations (a rhinoceros beetle for example) so I am really looking forward to figuring them out and finding materials which fit the brief.


7. What inspires you?

Nature and the world of awesome teeny tiny creatures around me is a constant source of inspiration. Evolution is a wonderful thing. It’s also really humbling to see other artists’ work and they are a huge inspiration to me too. These guys are just phenomenal: see here, here and here.
8. What themes do you pursue?
Err…insects and steampunk I suppose. Although I don’t want to restrict myself by following a theme. I’d rather just do whatever I fancy doing and see where it takes me. Today, insects…tomorrow, who knows?
9. What’s your favorite art work?
My two favourite artists in the world you can find here and here. Just stunning work.


10. Do make any difference between a work on a brief and you personal work?

Yeah, working on a brief usually pushes me a lot further, especially if it’s a new design. When I have a lot of commissions on the go I get a little bit stressed if I’m honest. I’m not a commercial artist and I only really charge enough to cover my materials and tools. Only the first few sculptures were “personal” as I was creating them for the fun of it as opposed to making them to order. I’m hoping to chill out a bit and do a few more personal projects once I’ve finished all of my current commissions.
11. How important are awards?
Interesting question, do you mean in my professional capacity (I also run an advertising and design business with my wife) or in terms of art? For art I think that awards are a great PR opportunity for many artists but personally I’m not in it commercial reasons so I’m equally happy appearing on someone’s personal blog or Twitter feed as I would be receiving an award. Arthrobot steampunk insect sculptures are sold in a wooden presentation box with a little leaflet detailing the sculpture’s name, phylum, class, order and some of the preliminary sketches.
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