Welcome to this week’s Artist Of The Week
Copper sculptor and 3D artist Thomas Bowman.
Thomas came on board with Local Art & Craft UK in our infancy. His amazing copper creations I his shop, Bespoke Bowtique, really impressed everyone, not least the LA&C team, and as luck might have it our technical maestro Dean won a competition to win one of Thomas’s fantastic lamps.
We met up in Kettering once lockdown was relaxed for the big hand over and I promised to do an AOTW feature about Thomas, his life and his work. After a few delays (sorry TB, my fault entirely), we finally met up again through the power of FB video chat and, at long last, here it is. The story behind the leg end.
Grab yourself a brew and enjoy Thomas’s story. 31 year old Thomas Bowman lives in Corby, Northants with his partner, Shona and their daughter, Niamh.
Thomas is lead technician at Aston Martin Special Projects in Wellesbourne, Warwickshire, looking after track only Vulcan cars and some other special projects that he can’t talk about (I did try and get him to spill the beans but he’s way too professional for that).
Tell me a little bit about yourself
Originally from Glasgow, I moved to Corby in Northants in 1996. A lot of family had moved down starting with Granny so it was a natural move. Two years ago I had some scrap parts from a car and decided, rather than stick them in the bin, to make a lamp out of them. I had some copper pipe lying about and that’s where Bespoke Bowtique was born.
I work for Aston Martin Lagonda at the Special Vehicle Operations site in Warwickshire. I was involved with the Bond cars for No Time To Die, the latest 007 movie. I’ve spent my career in motorsport and traveled the world (at someone else’s expense lol).
How does the bespoke part of Bespoke Bowtique work?
I’ll engage with the customer and find out an idea of what they want. We’ll then take that idea and tweak it, fiddle with it and form it into a thing of beauty. Or at least try!
Sometimes I’ll make a mock up, held together with spit and tape before it’s soldered, to give the customer an idea of how the finished article is going to look. We’ll talk about every detail from the size of the copper pipe, the type of wood, the lamp fitting, cable. Everything is completely bespoke and unique to that particular customer. This goes for everything I make, not just lamps but bottle holders, shelves, candlesticks…anything you can think of.
What inspired you to become an artist?
I’ve persevered with stuff in the past, mostly using recycled things. Making furniture out of pallets for example. I hate waste so I try to recycle everything where I can. Being able to transform what other people would think of as rubbish into something unique, quirky and even beautiful is amazing. Even though I’m not a great artist, I took up a pencil and paper and started designing unusual things. I love tinkering around in the garage just to see what I can come up with.
What’s life like as an artist in your area?
It’s interesting. There are a few people in the area who I get inspiration from. A guy called Stuart does a few interesting things. A couple of guys at work have an interest in the arts and crafts scene and we bounce ideas off each other. It’s fantastic coming up with an idea then working on it for 10 or 12 hours to see it turn into something truly unique. That having been said, I’ve seen people marketing other people’s work as their own. Competition is healthy but that’s not on.
What was it like creating a lamp for your childhood hero?
It was absolutely awesome! Alan Thompson followed Bespoke Bowtique on Twitter. As a lifelong Celtic fan I was absolutely delighted. I grew up watching Celtic and Tommo was a real hero of mine, even if he did play for England lol. I tagged him in a couple of things and he approached me and asked me to make something unique for him. We bounced a couple of ideas off each other and came up with the kitchen sink lamp. After that he asked me to make a golfer lamp for a friend. For me customer input is very important. We can take an idea and tweak it till we come up with the perfect finished article so we worked together quite closely while I was making the lamps which was incredible. Once it was all finished I delivered both finished items to him. A two and a half hour drive each way is worth it to meet one of your childhood heroes.
Is your family artistic?
No lol. A lot of them appreciate art but nobody could ever be classed as an artist. My mother was very good at Calligraphy, I’m not sure that counts does it?
Who is your favourite artist?
There’s a wood turning guy called Stephen Ogle that does various amazing things on his YouTube channel. I’m not sure if he’s classed as a typical artist but for me he makes some really nice pieces. I love working with contrasting materials. Oak works so well with copper for example.
What advice would you give to beginners?
Persevere and stick at it. It takes time and there’s a lot of hard work to do at the start. Don’t give up on your dreams and don’t get disheartened by people’s negative comments. Art is subjective and what you create is never going to be to everyone’s taste.
In the same respect, keeping it real is so important. The chances of actually making a living out of your art is really slim. I have a day job that pays the bills and if I’m lucky enough to make money from my art then that’s a bonus.
Would you be interested in LA&C’s mentoring scheme?
I’d be very happy to help people out, give them the benefit of my “wisdom”. I know how tough it can be when you’re just starting on the journey and it would be great to make it that little bit easier for someone.
Well that’s all for this week folks.
Thanks so much to Thomas for sharing his story and what has inspired him to let his artistic side shine through
You can check out Thomas’s off the shelf copper creations in his shop, Bespoke Bowtique, by clicking HERE, or you can get in touch with him on firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss a truly bespoke and unique creation.
If you’d like to share your story with the world, drop me a line at email@example.com and we can chat about what makes you tick.
So there you go.
That’s all for this week.
Where will next week’s AOTW take us?