Tom Phillips - Miscellaneous


Tom painting the floorcloth for the Magic Flute
Tom painting the floorcloth for The Magic Flute

There I was at art school with an almost monastic vocation as a pure painter: no base graphic design or applied art for me. I certainly couldn't (or wouldn't) have imagined that fifty years on I could get in my change for a packet of cigarettes a 50p coin that I had designed myself (for the Royal Mint), or that in exiting the shop I would see above me a lamp post that I had devised (for Southwark Council), or, unGod forbid, that I might pop into London's Catholic cathedral or Protestant abbey and see works made by me in marble intarsia, mosaic, stone and welded steel.

Illustration and Printmaking were the names of departments beneath the fine artist's notice at Camberwell School of Art, yet here I am now with scores of editioned prints and dozens of books that I have illustrated or designed covers for.

When one day in Pesaro at the Teatro Rossini I was urged onto the stage to be suddenly surrounded by near naked girls dancing with balloons and heading for a Berlusconiesque presenter who announced me as winner of the Italia prize (for co-directing A TV Dante), I should have thought my fall from grace was complete… and yet, and yet I now feel myself incredibly lucky to have had such varied opportunities and that all of them, from a wine label here to a CD cover there, have not just fed off my work but richly fed back into it.

Tom Phillips in conversation with Bill Hurrell 2011