Tom, known by the pseudonym « sock », is a 31-year-old professional illustrator and painter from Avignon, France. « I have been living of graffiti for about 8 years, but I am also an illustrator. With a friend, we created « Wild Sketch », a name under which we have been working in French rap for 10 years, defending an artisanal work entirely executed by hand. Two years ago, we produced our first handmade comic book called The incredible adventures of John Hash » (available on www.wildsketch.fr) he explains to us.
After two years in private art school, Tom gave up everything to learn art by himself. « When my parents put pencils and felt pens between my fingers when I was a child, I fell in love at first sight and never let them go. After a disastrous schooling – because I was still scribbling on my notebooks – I all the same studied two years at art school which was really useless to me : we wanted me to work on Photoshop, spend 8 hours a day behind a computer in order to make wedding announcements … So I thumbed my nose and did everything by hand. The best school has been the one of self-study and determination. Even today, I learn each day and try new things. » he tells us.
Tom discovered his passion for graffiti when he was 11 years old. « I knew the spray paint at 11 years old after having discovered the hip hop culture in its entirety : dance, rap, DJing … It is an alternative culture where the search for the letter is a calligraphic work ; going out at night to take up public space is like an act of rebellion… And I don’t speak about the adrenaline that it provides… In short, after these discoveries, many years of pure and hard graffiti followed, then the envy to make a character, a decor, with more colors and above all, the desire to be able to represent everything without having limits, not to be forced to stop a project for lack of technique. » he specifies.
On his Instagram account called « sock.wildsketch », Tom posts his graffiti for which he finds inspiration around him, today, or in his youth through his memories. « The inspiration is here, everywhere, around us. As a primary influence, I still cite my incontestable master Drew Struzan. Go see his works on Internet, you will say : « Ah yes ! » Finally, everything that I could see in my youth ; comic books, Hollywood movies, pubs, video clips, huge works of art… All of this also influences my work. » he tells us.
« The purpose of my work is mainly personal ; make me happy and practice my passion every day. Then there is also the idea that painting in the street makes art accessible to everyone … If, in addition, the message I want to convey is captured and that it leads to reflection, it is only a bonus. Regarding the messages I want to share, it depends on a lot of parameters. I especially don’t want to perpetually do the same thing or the same style, so I take the place, the residents into account and try to achieve custom-made thing. Sometimes the message is neutral. Other times, it is explicit or suggested. Separating my work in “series”, I generally give myself guidelines which I will follow and develop. My serie « Quantic b.boy » tends to bring spirituality back to the hip hop movement, my serie, produced internationally, « Turn off your screen » aims to encourage people to control their screen consumption every day and question about technology. I also go on topics that the media put in the category of « conspiracy theory », such as the World Trade Center, the creation of NASA, the invention of dinosaurs … in order to raise questions because I have always been intrigued by the mystery ! » he adds.