Multi-talented illustrator Tinhead is one cool guy. Not only does he create kick-ass illustrations, he’s also a multi-cup winning racing driver, ex-male model/bin man and BMXer. We love his distinctive illustrative style. Working closely with his muso mates ‘Foals’, Tinhead has illustrated a number of their album covers, tees and video sets including the iconic front cover for their debut album Antidotes. He has also worked with titles such as computer arts, i-D, Fact, The Fly and The Guardian. Felix and Florrie had a catch up with Tinhead to find out more, here’s the scoop…..


tinhead boats
Tell us a bit about your background, what have been the key steps to your success as an illustrator?

My background is humble I grew up and still live on a small estate in Oxfordshire. I spent most of my childhood motor racing and when I ran out of money for that I rode BMX’s. Now I’m racing again. In my formative years I was mainly running behind the back of a bin truck chucking black sacks in. My mum probably encouraged me to be an illustrator by telling me not to waste my life running behind a lorry, as well as it being encouraged and believed in by my mates FOALS, who are doing pretty well now. I still like running and picking things up though. I have failed at a lot of things. I wouldn’t say I have ‘success’ as an Illustrator it’s just always been a constant. I have always drawn.

What were you like as a teenager? Have you always been creative?

As a teen, I was away racing mostly and then riding. I was fairly driven with my art too because I was told it was a waste of time by most people/teachers etc, my closest friends are riders and thats pretty creative as we were always in the woods building trails, jumps and huts. We also like partying and being assholes really, we have been creative in our quests to become the biggest dickhead in the world award at times.


You spent a bit of time between school and Uni as a bin man…was this an enlightening experience?

Yes I went from being a model in Milan, I got sacked –  and took the first job going which was “waste/refuse disposal operative” aka binman. It sounds like a crushing thing, but it was awesome. You become a neighbourhood superhero. Kids and old people love you. People inbetween think you are like a disgusting villain pikey. You can wind up those assholes which was a source of constant entertainment. I also met a few chaps who genuinely changed my life and outlook on the world. One of them lived in a caravan and the other was just out of jail. They were interesting blokes.



Your work is so unique and recognisable, has anything from your youth influenced your style now?

Everything and nothing. I do not think about it. I usually have an idea run with it. It evolves. You cannot look at something be it material or experience and try and recreate it. IT will never be unique. It needs to come from further from within.


You seemed to have created the look for Foals with their illustrated debut album cover in 2008, how have you found it working so closely with these guys? do you consider yourself the ’6th band member’?

Very difficult but very rewarding. They definitely get the best out of me. Sometimes we go through hell to get there but we do in the end.  Sometimes however I just get on with it and suprise them. Such as I painted that pool a year ago and showed them it. BINGO! The planets aligned and off we went like barons in the moonlight.
Yes we are very close. I would say Yannis definitely brought me on as a man and an artist over the years-due to thought process, mind routes and ideas.. He is one of the few people I have met that has truly changed my life. He would make a good artist too.


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What process do you go though when creating a new piece of work?

Have a bit of a sort out, then mess it up again by getting all my stationery/paints out again. Look at a few things, think about a few things disregard it. Attempt to clear mind. Begin, fail. Fix the fail. FINISHING stuff usually goes wrong. You can’t be afraid to fail. Arnold Schwarzenegger said that….but I’m sure someone more important said that before him.

Do you have any exciting plans for 2014?

I have an agent now, Bolt, who are on my wavelength so hope to power through with that. Going to push my small clothing brand NIGHTWOLF, get some more products out there. I’d like to do some bigger works, some paintings and take my work abroad more.


What advice would you give to young illustrators/artists?

I don’t know? listen to Frank Sinatra ‘My Way’ ?


tinhead lady
Welcome to my crib…Whose artwork is on your wall at home?

None. There is a sticker of Donald Duck on my door and a poster of Arnold Schwarzenegger that fell down and broke the frame so I gave it to the body building gym on the trading estate over the road. I think my Mum has a picture of a petrol station I painted when I did my GCSE’s which is gash. We as a family aren’t one for home comforts/decor I guess. I just see it as four walls and a roof which I sleep in. It’s a tool. You wouldn’t decorate a spanner would you?


Can you do us an illustration in under a minute?

Apart from scanning it in because my scanner has gone back to the future…..Yes, I work fast….