I had the privilege of meeting Tom in person at Art!Vancouver and seeing his work first hand a few months back. I have to say there is no one like him and nothing I have seen to date that is similar in terms of his collection, he is truly unique. His work belongs in films and has had moments of fame and in my opinion deserves more. Check out his full interview below that gets into Tom's process and mind.
OAN - What's the story here Tom, when did you decide to get into creating these wild sculptures? How does that happen and what did it look like when you started out?
TTT - "I've always had a interest in taking things apart, but it wasn't until a friend gave me an old tube monitor and said “you look like someone who could do something with this” that I started thinking about creating sculpture.. I took the monitor, combined it with pieces from a broken VCR, and turned the pile into somewhat of a human shaped head. I named it Multimedia and gave it back to the friend, who showed it to his boss, the owner of a computer store. Shortly after that I got my first public art commission to create a six foot statue that would sit outside the store. I started out with a lot of ideas, and not a lot of experience to put them together. Many hopes and luck helped with a lot of hot glue and copper wire twist ties that held my first few pieces together.
OAN - What was your first disaster with your art and a low point for you? How did you overcome?
TTT - "Disasters happen all the time. I've learned to adapt as best I can. Sometimes you can fix things on site and shrug it off as performance art. Other times you thank yourself it's a local show, and drive home VERY quickly to get the forgotten head of the seven foot robot. The Bleeding Heart is a heart shaped fountain that I created in 2011 for a love themed event.It bleeds automatic transmission fluid now, but originally I had a water based fluid running through the sculpture.It was finished a little close to the show's vernissage. Things were somewhat untested....the gallery was a great big white room. As it turns out, the bowl that collected the fluid wasn't quite wide enough. At first only a few drops fell to the side, but fluid falling into an emptying bowl eventually caused it to foam over. The plinth turned red... which quickly made the floor turn red. There was a 4 foot area around the sculpture that was a bloodbath. The gallery owner told me (luckily with a smile on his face) that the red seeped upwards through whatever paint was put over the area for months afterwards".
OAN - From the outside how would you explain to someone with no knowledge of your craft what your creative process is?
TTT - "I search my workshop and make a pile of things that might suit what I'm building. The first piece is usually hardest to find. There's a whole lot of moving, rearranging and replacing until some sort of satisfactory shape starts to form on the table in front of me. The next step is figuring out how to attach everything together. Welding doesn't always work. Sometimes nuts and bolts complete a look. Angles may change, parts may fit differently than anticipated. I try remain adaptable to how things want to be put together. Somewhere in between the idea in my head, and how fastening actually holds the pieces is how the piece turns out".
"The making of Across" - Tom's Process.
OAN - What do you need right now from the local art community ? What kind of support? Anyone special you want to meet or be connected to?
TTT - "Right now, I'm just asking people to show up and spread the word. I never know who will buy my work, or where I'll find them. Until then I'm happy to meet anyone who wants to check out my work".
OAN - Are you offering workshops or looking to partner with others in the area?
TTT - "A youth organisation hired me a few times to help kids make metal creations out of found objects. The kids had such unbridled creativity. They didn't have any of the preconceived limitations of what should fit together and what shouldn't. They gave the crew and I the most interesting challenges. There`s no immediate plans to do any workshops at the moment, but I would definitely do it again if there was interest".
OAN - What motivates you Tom?
TTT - "I don't think my life would be as interesting without art. I've gotten into so many adventures because of it. Each piece I create is a challenge, and has a different motivation behind it. When I make art I'm trying to evoke a reaction in people. Sometimes I'm for a dramatic effect. Other times I'm making sculptures that are based off my love for bad puns.I really enjoy exploring and tinkering with the intricate material I find. I like it when something is almost indistinguishable as to what it was because what it has become looks natural. Finding other uses for things before they end up in a landfill is also pretty satisfying. It really depends on what I am doing".
OAN - In terms of your designs which ones would you want to mass produce if you could or are you wanting to stay grass roots? What would be the ideal situation for you?
TTT - "I could deal with having a mass produced item, but because I`m working with found objects, I`m not sure it's something that can happen. The closest I've come was prepping the parts for a dozen barb wire roses. When I make roses I`m stripping down computer cases, and frames as well as any flat steel that can be cut, polished and turned into a petal. The majority of what I do doesn't really lend itself to automation well. Even the roses are eventually assembled by hand.
"The Making of Over" - Tom's Process.
OAN - Tell us about how you got to where you are today, what is your vision and how can others get involved?
TTT - "I got to where I am today by jumping into something I didn't entirely understand and learning as much as I could as I went along. I took a welding night class at a local college and started making structures a bit more solid. I took jobs that taught me skills that related to my art. I spent sometime working on an assembly line which taught me a thing or two about fasteners. I pestered welders, and looked over the shoulders of engineers as they worked on solutions and anyone who would answer questions. A few years operating a robotic welding machine at a metal forming factory helped my own welding skills. I've gotten into projects outside of my sculpting that has led to a lot of other opportunities. Things like awards, trophies, movie props, and wearable art that allows me to still be creative in a fun junky way.. I guess that's the vision. I want to keep getting into as many projects that allow me to be creative. I don't think I could list them if i wanted to, but I`ll recognise them when I see them. Most of the time, it`s just me putting things together. That`s not to say that I don`t get in over my head often. When I do I'm lucky enough to have an intelligent and helpful group of friends that I get to turn to. None of them would want their picture in an interview, but, if they're reading this, they know who they are, and that should know that I am lucky to have them".
OAN - Please share a bit about your experience at Art!Vancouver recently, the trip and how that transpired for you, the trip, the process and what is involved in doing a show elsewhere for you?
TTT - "Art! Vancouver was a challenging show to pull off. I`m a bit of a logistical nightmare.I had met this awesome couple at a few art shows in Toronto over a number of years. They were the organisers of a blooming event called Art! Vancouver. There were invites extended, and some laughs were had about how wonderful and insane it would be to drive 4000kms with 3/4 of a tonne of metal sculpture and setup. When a client in Vancouver expressed an interest in buying a set of mechanical lungs I had made, then things changed. The sale came around the time of Art! Vancouver, and with some of the expenses covered, the gamble seemed a little more possible. I like making my deliveries in person anyway. I forgot days of the week, and started a 59 day countdown to me leaving for the event. There were a few pieces to finish, and a great amount to plan out and pack. The worst thing that can happen on out of town shows is figuring out several hours into the trip that something was forgotten. This trip was different in that I had 4 days to think about it I've got robot parts, walls to hang robot parts on, and nuts, bolts, and brackets that go with that. There`s a bucket of blood, and pillars that take up more room than most sculptures. The loose ends are the stuff of nightmares. Getting to the show was an adventure to itself. Ontario is really really big. I was lucky enough to have convinced my girlfriend to join me. The 4 day drive wouldn't have been possible without her. I remember being in awe that there was still an art show to do when we got to Vancouver. The show itself was fantastic. There's this moment that happens once every wall is set up, and every pillar is painted that the weight of 59 days of setup disappears off my shoulders. It`s a pretty great feeling. I got to run up and down a catwalk runway with a giant metal mask, and claw gauntlet on opening night. There was some really great reception to the setup, and I may have found a bit of new direction in terms of where the next dream road trip might be. I`d call it a success".
Collection of Tom's work.
Get in touch with Tom:
Website – http://ticktocktom.com
Instagram - http://instagram.com/Ticktocktom
Facebook - http://facebook.com/Ticktocktom
Twitter - http://twitter.com/ticktocktom
Email - Ticktocktom@gmail.com