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Paul Bommer Cor blimey guv’nor, a Cockney geezer Illustrator

January 31, 2014

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Chirpy chappie and dapper dresser Paul Bommer is a graduate of the National College of Art & Design in Dublin. He lives in Cromer, a small coastal town in North Norfolk, UK. With a talent for illustrating people and objects from English times gone by. Paul has created artwork for all kinds of uses including beer labels, delft-like tiles made out of board and acrylic paint, book covers and beautiful screen prints. I’ve been a fan of his work for quite some time now and as we are friends on facebook, I took the opportunity to have a catch up chat and find out a little more.

Paul comes from a large family, but had quite a solitary childhood, preferring to spend time with his pencils and paper and creating imaginary friends and worlds where his characters could live. His grandfather was a painter, and although Paul wasn’t exactly encouraged in his art, he strongly felt a need, no… more of a desire, to keep drawing and now he’s created a full time career from his skills. Proving just how important it is to remain true to ones desires and beliefs.

Here’s a selection of his tile imagery.

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There’s a flavour of the sea running throughout Paul’s work too, seen here more strongly in his illustrations of Old Neptune and a tattooed sailor. I watched the 1949 Ealing ‘comedy’ classic ‘Whisky Galore’ over christmas and so really enjoyed seeing Paul’s take on the sleeve cover for the book. Incidentally this turned out to be one of Paul’s favourite commissions too.

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I was asking Paul how he generates new ideas for his work. He explained that he carries an A4 sketchbook wherever he travels so that when things pop into his head he can sketch them down and also puts a light bulb next to them, if they’re the start of a new idea. At home he has a huge sheet of paper on the wall onto which his thoughts and doodles can literally run wild. Here he creates hundreds of little sketches, sometimes far more than he may ever have time to use ! Using a large sheet of paper, gets away from some artist’s ‘terror of the first white page’ and using minimal lines to get an idea down, somehow gives the image more focus and almost intensifies its meaning or significance.

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Brought up by a Polish father and Welsh/Danish Mother, Paul was born in Wembley in northwest London. His catholic school was filled with Italian, Spanish and Polish children so even though he was British, he began to view the country almost through the eyes of a foreigner. He believes that his catholic upbringing and being amongst their statues, colour and religious iconography is perhaps what gives him his love for signs, symbols and story telling today.

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He doesn’t view history as a’dusty old thing’ but rather a series of stories that may have been forgotten and need bringing up to date with a fresh approach. His love of different periods in English history, are where he draws much of his inspiration from, for his contemporary screen prints.

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I noticed how important humour appeared to be in Paul’s illustration and he agreed that by making people smile through his work, he can somehow paint a more favourable light on historical events and bring them back to life in a way that contemporary folk, like you and I, can more easily identify with. Look at these modern interpretations of the traditional pub sign, don’t they just make you smile straight away ?

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In the future Paul is hoping to spend some time working with ceramics and producing one off pots in his wonderfully personal decorative style, which I think would look amazing. He’s presently working alongside another artist involving puppetry and is creating new lines for Fortnum and Mason, who are apparently superb to work with as they give high respect for the artists space and style. I suggested that a wallpaper design from the tattoos of his sailor from an image higher up in this post, would work splendidly and that he should get his illustrations onto fabric too. Who else apart from me, wants a cockney rhyming slang Tea Towel ? lol

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It wasn’t until the end of our conversation that we discovered our childhoods were spent about 5 minutes from one another, on the wirral peninsula, when Paul would come to visit his grandparents there and go down to the sea in summertime. How funny to think that we may have met and not known it lol

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You can buy prints of Paul’s work on the St Judes website or on Paul’s own Etsy or Big Cartel sites.

Lovely work Paul, keep up your truly individual style and it will always look fresh, exciting and yours alone. Hope to catch up sometime soon.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Wallace permalink
    January 31, 2014 11:34 am

    Really enjoyed this blog, thanks.

    • January 31, 2014 12:20 pm

      Thanks for letting me know, Paul’s work is certainly a wave of sunshine, especially in gloomy wet January

  2. Lisa permalink
    January 31, 2014 4:09 pm

    Hi Fishink,
    Thanks for posting this delightful work. Can you tell us a little more about PB’s working methods? Is it primarily pen and ink with wash over? Does he do any linocuts?

    • February 4, 2014 7:25 pm

      Hi Lisa, I believe Paul mostly works using screen-printing techniques, but of course there may well be some pen and ink with watercolour studies amongst his work too. No linocuts that I know of.

  3. Nemorino permalink
    January 31, 2014 7:13 pm

    Great blog and what an interesting artist. Beautiful work.

  4. February 1, 2014 2:16 pm

    Rhyming slang tea towel? Hell yeah! Great work, love it.

  5. February 1, 2014 7:38 pm

    His work is fun and entertaining, interesting. One doesn’t just take a quick look, it makes one want to study it closer.

  6. February 17, 2014 5:45 am

    Hi Fishink,

    Thanks for listing these sites for us. You have done great job. I like this. Keep sharing with us.

    • February 17, 2014 8:28 am

      No problem Stela, thanks for your feedback and please share my site with your friends too. Happy Day : )

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