Tom Mason's work takes on a lot of different forms, drawing, painting, collaging, but it all seems to fit together. I chose a couple different series that I liked--thatched abstracts (the hair), ghostly affairs (the silly ghost drawings), and the dream sequence (cutouts of coloured paper)--to show you here. The way it seems he works is pretty familiar, taking one idea and running with it for a while until the next moment of genius strikes!
London / Berlin
Describe your work in 10 words or less.
Multiple moves, minor diversions, major Tom, free Mason, under construction...
What do you like to work with (magazines, photographs, vintage)? Be specific!
In terms of found material, I like a good mix. I wouldn't want wholly vintage stuff, as it can feel a bit easy and redundant if everything is, say, 50s stuff. Similar with fashion/celeb/porn type stuff. When I've used people I quite like to have seemingly average types, like I'd scrutinize in these 80s household home delivery catalogues as a kid, e.g. the nicey people, country casuals, guys in suits, etc. I like to make some use of the seemingly M.O.R., seemingly dull stuff, like amateur alchemy. "But is it gold?"
Otherwise, the lot: pens, pencils, paint, magazine, newspaper...
How long have you been creating collages and what made you start?
Bits and bobs since so high. Then got more seriously into it around 2001 I think, when I was a bit of a standstill with my drawing and other work. Collage provided a different feel, 'colder' almost, with less reliance on own characterisation. I've had periods flipping back and forth, though these days it's sort of all in the pot at any one time... It's a tool in the box alongside drawing, painting, writing, etc. With found images it's nice to work with something already there, to re-employ it, re-possess it, bend it to your whim or toss it into your improvised play.
Are you solely an artist, or do you work in another profession?
I've done/do some illustration, writing, editing, tv extra work, the odd bit of music/performance and djing, and of course various other money work I'd only dull people by going into.
Do you have any formal art training?
All the way up to an MA I'm halfway through. I had ten years between BA and the MA when I was out and about, here and there. The further I go on the MA, the more I realise how important that time was, for me as a person and now currently as a studying artist.
Describe your favourite piece ever created.
It goes against the ideas within and around my work to pick a single piece. Like moods, preferences change. There's a kind of expanding and refining selection that at any one moment I'd see as current favoutites. At the same time, a piece that I'm not 100% about on it's own can seem to light up when seen alongside another one or two pieces in group. And coming across a piece that has slipped my mind, when rummaging through some pile in the bottom of a drawer can be great fun.
What other artists do you admire?
Again it can change, and it crosses mediums, though there are a few things that form a kind of desert island selection. There's key people, and then there are artists I'm maybe currently thinking about without having figured out if they're central to my practice (e.g. Franz West, Mary Heilmann, etc). The key people are usually music people rather than visual artists... But hey, all the people I'm about to mention are artists. Off the top of my head: Sigmar Polke (the early works on paper), Beck, MES, Karl Holmqvist, Jan St Werner, and some tennis players... There's tons of other stuff of course.
I also feel like a principle that comes back again and again with art/music/writing/etc is that I don't entirely know what I like until I encounter it, and might obsess about something for a period before moving on with that thing now as part of my current mental baggage amongst all the rest. E.g. I'm not really interested in people who look at painting and automatically think 'but it's just painting'. Or 'hmm, interesting music. But it's not punk rock.' Etc. And even in the 21st century they do exist! Of course I have a certain taste I feel is my own, but my criteria is developing and re-focusing according to input and just general living and process of ageing bit by bit. It feels like a kind of improvised and gradually developing/aspirant pluralism. It's not about the medium, it's about the energy and intent, the ideas, etc. (So collage is as much -if not more- an idea or principle in my work, than an obsessiveness about a certain way of working with a certain material. I'm not a purist.)