Updated: May 2

In the third of our Q&A features, we talk to our artist / illustrator Thom Simpson about freelancing, FoxCult, the earnest drive behind personal passions, and how our consumption of media provides endless inspiration. Today, we welcome you to explore the artist behind our illustrated comic strip - Desert Drive - available in The Needle Drops... Volume One.

Thom Simpson was raised in rural Somerset, England

Thom Simpson is an illustrator from Somerset in the south-west of England. Following a love for intricate pen and ink work, he has been honing his craft for a number of years, exploring the capabilities of cross-hatching techniques and complex textural work. Thom has launched his own successful illustration brand that features naturalistic illustration alongside an impassioned collection of drawings inspired by his favourite film and videogames. Most recently he has turned his hand to producing a collection of apparel and accessories under the brand FoxCult, centred around the mischievous creatures.

So, Thom - how has it been interpreting and visualising the world of The Needle Drops… so far?

I must admit, I was a little daunted at first! But the more I work on the art - and by extension, see everything come together - the more comfortable I find it to explore each new section. It really helped to have such a strong direction to go on from the beginning, and from there it has been a case of throwing my own spin on the visuals. Finding a way to adapt my usual working process to a new world, and new ground in the format and genre, has been really refreshing; in particular, capturing the mood, the dirt, blood and smoke - it’s been very textural which is just what I like.

Does it feel liberating or constraining when working on freelance projects? Do you prefer having a basis to build off, or a blank slate?

Usually, it very much depends on who you’re working for. As with any collaborative project, there has to be a level of push and pull, of willingness to compromise to each other's ideas- so it helps big time when this feels more like a constructive discussion rather than an argument. Being a creative individual with a pretty rampant imagination, it’s always a pleasure to be let loose on an idea with the simple command of ‘go nuts’. But when you’re working to a timeframe it’s really beneficial having some of the legwork already there, especially when the vision is clear and there are enough specifics nailed down to form the structure. Then it’s a case of adding the visual meat to the formative bones, if you like, and there’s always a liberating experience to be found in the