From the distillery, head south and into the network of lanes that crisscross the space between the Preselis and the big road – the A40 which runs between Haverford West and Carmarthen), and you may discover the ‘crumbling Georgian house’ in rural Carmarthenshire where printmaker Tom Frost, aka The Boy Frost, creates his eye-catching designs and hand-made prints.
Commercial illustrator to print maker
Training as illustrators in Falmouth, Tom and his partner Teresa settled in Bristol. Tom began working life as a commercial illustrator, taking commissions through an agent. Much of his work was editorial. Newspaper health sections or mortgage brochures might have paid the bills but creating digital illustration for these outlets wasn’t lighting his fire. A friend suggested he join him on a one-day print making course – and he fell in love with it.
Not only did Tom fall in love with the process of print making, the course opened the door to a new path entirely. Within a matter of weeks, he had taken part in an exhibition of prints and joined the Snap Studio in Bristol complete with screen printing facilities in the basement and exhibition space and shop open to the public. Rather than continue with commercial work, Tom Frost threw himself into print making, creating prints, packaging and placing the results directly for sale. The leap of faith paid off. People started to buy his work, and exhibitions followed, including in the galleries at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
Although evocative of vintage, nostalgic and naive design – tin toys, Puffin books all spring to mind looking at his work, Tom brings his own graphic approach, his own ideas to create entirely original work.
A big project has been Tom’s Kickstarter project to fund the production of his iconic letterpress prints ‘Waves will Rise’ and ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’. These started life as match box designs, but an idle comment about how fantastic they would look in large form, bigger, more impressive, set the ball rolling for a crowdfunding campaign in July 2018. Hitting (indeed exceeding) his target has allowed the transformation of the matchbox design into these wonderful pieces of art. Prints are still available to buy from Tom’s shop.
Growing printmaking through word of mouth
Working without an agent also works for ‘the Boy Frost’ these days – his ethos in respect of his printmaking is very similar to ours at In the Welsh Wind. He is keen to embrace the honesty of hand-printing, creating limited edition prints in short runs for sale. Rather than the sterile process of the commercial commission via an agent, to produce in a vacuum, collaboration has been a welcome development. He finds himself approached largely through word of mouth to work with publishers, festivals and drinks producers. People delighted by his work, who’ve received a Tom Frost perhaps as a card or seen a poster, wait for projects that they can offer him – books, drink labels and promotional posters such as those for the Good Life Experience.
And what of the future? There’s a barn to renovate in the grounds of the crumbling Georgian home, to create a bespoke studio – but while the work rolls in finding time to work on the barn is a challenge. There’s Frost and Kin, Tom’s enterprise with his partner, Teresa, working together making and selling unique, hand-printed items, cards, cardboard models and of course, prints.
Alongside all this, Tom is working with us here In the Welsh Wind on an exciting collaboration – limited edition prints, bringing our bespoke copper stills to life. From the very first look at Tom’s take on match boxes, my favourite childhood toys and beautiful redesigns of animals in his iconic press style, we knew we had to bring a collaborative project to life. Having Tom’s enthusiastic response has set to galvanise the creation of our stills Meredith, Afanc and Ceridwen as hand-printed artworks. His approach to how he brings these pieces to life represents for us in similarity the light-hearted but adventurous way we present our craft spirits.
Our limited edition Tom Frost prints are now available to buy in our webshop