Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Gary Tonge Interview

Gary Tonge, an art director and conceptual artist, paints amazing and breath taking digital landscape paintings. He has been in the industry since he was 17 and with his personal science fiction and fantasy art, he has gained the admiration of a wide audience and has a healthy client list behind him

I felt lucky to steal some of his time away for an interview as working as an art director and conceptual artist and working from home as a freelancer (and being a family man) means that time, is a very precious thing.

It is also worthy to note that Gary has a very helpful and practical book out called "Bold Visions" and has an equally brilliant website that you should head over to at the end of the interview and get lost amongst the art work he has up on show.

Please enjoy!

The Interview

Grand Universe (c) Gary Tonge

In your own words, what does it mean to you to be creative and artistic?

I cannot think of a more wonderful thing to be doing with my life than being a creative person. I am even more fortunate to be thought of highly enough to be paid to be creative – it is great!

What is it about the science fiction and fantasy genres that have such a great pull on you and your work?

I think my personal work, while related to sci-fi and fantasy in look is rather a projection of what it might be like on other worlds in this Universe or what it might be like for us here on Earth in the distant future. So I suppose it is more Science-hopeful than Science Fiction.
Clearly, you work digitally to fulfill your client’s needs quickly and because of the freedom the computer offers. Do you work with any traditional mediums?

I rarely use traditional mediums these days, aside from maybe sketching ideas out roughly in pencil. I used to really enjoy painting traditionally with acrylics though. I would like to more often though!

Basilica (c) Gary Tonge

Have you ever considered exhibiting your art in a public gallery, to display large scale prints and not worry about there not being an original to sell?

Yes I have thought about that but I have yet to have the time to organize a showing or work around the logistics of getting a show off the ground – I would do it if I were to be approached though – my works look much better printed large format on canvas. 

Do you have any plans to release a second, Digital Art Bible?

I am working on a second book right now.

If you could visit one of the places that you have painted, where would you like to go?

Ohhh, good question! Erm, maybe “Nimbus” – that must be quite a sight in real life, either that image or one of the more majestic Galactic pieces I have painted.

Nimbus (c) Gary Tonge

Equally, if you could avoid and never go to one of the places you have painted, what place would that be?

Not sure I would like to be standing in “The Room”! :D

The Room (c) Gary Tonge
Finally, if you weren’t an artist or illustrator of any kind, what do you think you’d be doing?

I literally have no idea – but having a quick punt I would say an Astronaut or a Racing driver – hehehe

Questions Every Artist Gets Asked

What has been your career highlight to date?

I have had many highlights to be honest but what stands out for me most of all is having my work inspire other people – I think it is wonderful to contribute to others lives in a positive way.

What was your big break into the illustration industry?

In 1999 I decided that I was going to start doing some personal work that I wanted to paint – a collection of sci-fi/space type images. These lead me to having a website online and that website got so much attention that it totally changed the direction of my artistic career – I would not be a Conceptual artist now without that.

Docking Towers (c) Gary Tonge

What was the best piece of artistic advice you have received or can offer?

That “trying is enough”.

What do you think is the most effective way you market yourself and your work?

That is tricky because I do not really go out of my way to do this – (I work full time as a Conceptual Art Director so I do not have the time to create too much additional art). Posting on art forums is actually a very good way of getting noticed, you never know who is going to be looking in!

As an artist, what are your biggest challenges that you face?

Having the time to create enough art that I love – and the usual artistic trait of not really liking much of what I have created once it is done! :D


(c) Gary Tonge

What is your favourite smell?

Freshly ground coffee
A small meteor is about to hit your house and destroy it, your family are already out and safe, you have time to save one thing, what would it be?

I am not bothered much by material possessions to be honest – as long as there is a backup of my art somewhere I would be happy.
If your life was a movie, how would your death sequence go?

Leaving the world in a blaze of light via seraphic transport

If you had £100,000 and a year off from work, what would you do with the time and money?

Something worthwhile for the world hopefully – most likely it would involve art!


  1. Gary's work is amazing. You're doing a great job here Lloyd.

  2. Thanks for sharing this, excellent!

  3. my son neo is 7 and is so impressed with this work and it as shown him that this is the way forward he loves everything regards to space so i think that his is the best picture for him super work love it love it



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