top of page

2022 Winner Pt.1 - Tom Hancock

Where did you study and what was the course title?

Hereford College of Arts (HCA), BA Hons in Contemporary Design Crafts

Name of your lecturer – course tutor?

Rebecca Finney & Holland Otik

How did you feel about winning the Colour in Design Award, what does it mean to you?

When the CIDA judges began taking interest in my work and discussing my pieces with me, I was over the moon just to have the opportunity to talk about my practice with people who were genuinely interested. However, I was not expecting to walk away with an award. So, the look of shock on my face in some of the press images is genuine. I also had the added bonus of having my family visiting, who just so happened to be there when my award was announced. It was great for them to see my hard work pay off, and I could see how proud they were in that moment.

With regards to what the award means, its’s easy to succumb to imposter syndrome when you’re starting out in the creative industry, especially when you’re exhibiting alongside so many talented people. To win the award is hugely validating and has given me that extra confidence boost and reminder that the work I produce is recognised, appreciated. Also, that the hours of head scratching and experimenting in the studio was worth it.

How important is colour in your work and how do you choose and narrow down colours?

Honestly, for a long time during my studies, colour was not a priority. I would even go as far as to say I was slightly intimidated by colour. I think I took myself so seriously that I had some misguided notion that serious craft meant muted tones. This was a very limiting mindset, and it wasn’t until I allowed myself to explore colour in my work and embrace colour that I truly began to enjoy making to its fullest.

The body of work that was exhibited at New Designers drew inspiration from the industrial manufacturing of cars from the 1920’s through to 1970’s and the industrial byproduct known as ‘Fordite’. Therefore I was able to design the colour palette using specific colours from specific years of manufacture. I essentially geeked out over car paint colour schemes and went down many rabbit holes. I have to have a genuine interest and narrative when designing. Whether that be form, material or colour. So rather than arbitrarily choosing colours from a colour wheel, I ground my choice of colour in an authentic narrative.

What is your main source of inspiration?

My background is in civil engineering and project management, and my father is a traditional cabinet maker. So, I draw a lot of my inspiration from industrial and engineering-based processes and look for ways to bring them together with the traditional craft materials and skills that I grew up surrounded by. I’m also passionate about good old British engineering, and shining a light on those small scale firms that are still operating around the country, but probably don’t get the kind of recognition that they deserve. An example would be the metal spinning company that I work with to manufacture the raw aluminium vessels. The skill and craftsmanship involved is phenomenal, and its great to be able to bring what they do out of the industrial manufacturing world and into the craft exhibition arena.

What makes you happiest/most fulfilled in your creative process?

I am happiest and most fulfilled when an idea that has been designed and tested in principle, works in practice. When you go from maquette or prototype to the real deal and its as good if not better than you imagined.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on growing the collection of spun vessels into a larger body of work for an exhibition later in 2022. I’m not able to go into much detail, but it’s an exciting opportunity. I’ll be busy going back and forth between my studio and engineering companies, and of course investing time in designing new colour palettes.

On top of that, I’m making applications to galleries and responding to open-call opportunities in the hope that I can grow my network and exposure. Lastly, I’m attempting to overhaul my studio to enable me to experiment more with paint and colour application on a bigger scale. So improving ventilation and air filtration, and not just relying on face masks and an open window!

Where do you want to be in 3 years’ time?

Above all, I want to still be designing and making, and sustaining myself financially with my practice. I want to have made the most of the momentum and contacts that I’ve built up from winning the Colour in Design Award. I want to be exhibiting my work with well respected galleries and have generated opportunities to collaborate with people or companies that appreciate the work that work that I produce. I appreciate that I’m at the beginning of my career, but I believe the work that I have produced so far has a strong future, and I know that there a people out there that want to own and live with the pieces that I create. I need to invest my energy over the next 3 years in getting it in front of those people.

Creative high point?

With the aluminum vessels, my breakthrough moment was the application of paint layers, and the polishing back to reveal the striking colours and textures. I had tested the process at a relatively small scale and knew it had potential, but not at large scale. The moment that I began polishing back the paint was full of apprehension, but when I saw that it was working, I was ecstatic, and genuinely a little emotional. You invest so much of yourself in your work, that when it goes well it’s a mixture of excitement and a release of tension.

Creative low point?

When I first began exploring metal spinning as a process, I modified an old engineering lathe and taught myself the fundamentals. I got to a point where I was able to produce small vessels relatively consistently. So eventually I found myself surrounded by these crudely spun vessels and thinking ‘what now?’. I’ve never been able to tie myself to one process alone, my mind is too inquisitive and there are too many processes out there to explore for me to have the kind of dedication that is needed to really master something like spinning. So, I spent quite a few weeks staring at these vessels feeling totally uninspired and really questioning what I was going to be when I ‘grew up’. It wasn’t until I started exploring a playing with colour and paint finishes that I was able to find my creative voice again, and everything that I am about fell into place.

Is there one person during your studies/life who has really made a difference to you?

My tutor in my first and second year, James Smith. I know that I am not alone in owing a lot to his words of encouragement and his ability to lift spirits when people are struggling creatively. James was able to help me realise that my past experience and interests had a place within my creative practice. He always understood where I was trying to get to with my projects and was able to help problem solve or suggest processes to help me get there.

What is your favourite colour?

Out of all the questions I’ve been asked, that is by far the hardest. It’s the one which makes my brain freeze, and up there with what’s your favorite band. For me, my response to colour changes as often, if not more than my taste in music. But I guess that’s the beauty of colour. It has the ability to say different things to different people. That became more obvious to me when I exhibited my current body of work for the first time. Each individual person would react differently to the same piece, and it was nearly always in response to the colour. But, if I had to pick one, I think it would be ‘red orange’. It’s not a colour that I have used in my work yet, but it’s a colour that is always uplifting. It’s comforting and warming in winter, and vibrant and joyful in summer.

Image credits: Identified in file names.

Amy Perkins (@humblebee_photography)

Matt Davies (@mattdaviesimages)

Oliver Cameron-Swan (@o_cameronswan)


Social media: @studio_hancock



bottom of page