Tom Abbiss Smith

"I Always take an experimental and intuitive approach"

What’s your story? Who is Tom Abbiss Smith?


I am an Illustration graduate from Norwich University Of The Arts, currently living in Norwich UK with my partner, who is also an Illustrator!

How does living in London/Norwich effect your creativity?


I’m mostly based in Norwich now, which is nice as it’s a very relaxed and creative city. Although it’s quite small, there’s plenty of creative things happening all the time and I think the arts culture is thriving here. Sometimes I wish it was a bit bigger or I had a car so I could explore more places and find new inspiration, but overall it’s great for an artist to live in!

Do you work full time as an artist? If not does your “day job” effect creativity or conflict in your efforts to work full time as a Digital Collage Artist?


I actually recently quit my day job, as I was finding it way too stressful to balance the inconsistent hours I got given with doing artwork in my free time. It seemed to give me a lot of creative blocks when knowing there was pressure to make work within a certain time. Since quitting, I’ve felt a lot better, and I’ve been getting a lot more interest in my work, I really hope it keeps going this way as I don’t want to go back into retail, ever!

We as a culture glorify the successes of an artist and romanticize the idea of the “starving artist.” I want to bring to light the issues most creatives face when trying to make ends meet and do what they love? What would you say is your greatest struggle as an artist?


I think the uncertainty of getting any creative jobs at all is the biggest struggle and makes me quite anxious at times. Equally, I sometimes feel as if I’m going to run out of ideas and have nothing interesting to create any more. When thinking commercially, I have to treat my artistic profession as a 9-5, which means working hard almost every day, but when you just can’t do any art, it can be a painful experience.

Do you feel the internet, specifically social media has created more creative opportunities? by way of commission, collaborations etc?


I definitely think so, 80% of any commissions and collaborations I’ve worked on have been through social media. I think it’s a very important aspect of the profession. I’m always trying to stay engaged with my followers and any favorite artists on blogs/Instagram/Facebook. I guess there are also negatives to sharing work through social media, such as having your work/intellectual property stolen or unfairly exposed. I recently found an individual on Instagram who was selling prints on Etsy that were literally re-drawn from my own and some other artists work. Their accounts quickly got shut down!

What inspires your creativity?

It’s probably going to sound very cliche, but everything I see around me on a daily basis. If you really look around you and observe, there are beautiful textures, shapes, colors, etc. everywhere. I love that there is the possibility to reappropriate all of these things into artwork. Nature is perhaps the most prominent inspiration to my work, however. There’s so much variation when looking at it, and that excites me a lot.

What are you working on right now?

I’m currently waiting to hear back on a lot of things, it’s going to be very exciting and relieving to finally share some of those in a few months time. My most recent project at the moment though is designing an exclusive surface pattern artwork for some garments, I can’t wait to see what they look like, it’s always great to see my art incorporated into clothing, I think that’s where it belongs.

Why art?

It’s soooo important in this world for so many different reasons, even if people don’t want to believe it, it’s true. From visual communication to music, it has a purpose. I love being involved in that and having the possibility to explore/change/question things through it.

Did you feel a calling to art & self-expression?

When I was younger my parents always tried to drag me to galleries and take an interest in art, but I wasn’t having any of it! It was only until I started to grow up a bit that I realized I actually love it. I can’t imagine what I’d be doing with my life without it.

Surface-pattern design for ‘ATOURS DE LUMIÈRE’. A collaboration with L’offciel x  Mercedez-Benz x Atelier Pichita x Gold Elite Paris for Fashion Destination

Favorite Book, Favorite element in nature & Favorite smell?

Beyond The Deepwoods by Paul Stewart, illustrated by Chris Riddell. Big exotic plants. Coffee.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Creatively and as an artist striving to create sustainability?


Ohh this is a difficult question! I definitely still see myself doing lots of creative things with my partner. I’d like to set up a studio too, or at least be in the process of doing so by then. It’d be great if I could get more of my work on textiles by then as well. That’d look great in the portfolio. I also hope to be included in more exhibitions as well, as they’re generally a lot of fun!

Tom Abbiss Smith

Last words?


Thanks so much for the interview! I hope every creative out there gets the exposure they deserve and is respected for the profession they choose 🙂

His work can be seen in various publications, including Creative Review, Wallpaper Magazine, Crack Magazine and Walnut Magazine.

Tom’s most recent clients include Atelier Pichita, Whip Appeal Of Sweden, Unlimited Store and El Moderno Concept store.

Interested in any commissions, inquiries, collaborations or general questions.

Get in Touch 


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