Hello, I am Thomas Parry: a Birmingham based product designer and illustrator living and working on The Menace, a narrow boat that travels the Grand Union canal network. Made on the Canal became my main outlet for my graphical design projects in 2016.
Originally born in Birmingham, I grew up in Northern Ireland. At an early age I developed a keen interest in art. I explored a variety of artistic mediums, but really found joy in ceramics (getting mucky while working can be a fun aspect to working in the arts – it’s not been a good day unless you come home covered in dust and clay!), with a growing fondness for illustration and graphical forms too.
I returned to Brum in 2007 when I started a BA (hons) in Product Design at Birmingham City University, eventually leading to an MA in Product Design culminating in position as Designer in Residence at the University. In this position I continued honing my own design skills while also mentoring young artists across the breadth of skills accessible.
I have since been taking on a number of freelance product design roles alongside my growing portfolio in illustration and graphics.
Beyond art, I am an avid Star Wars fan. Well… actually it’s broader than that: I’m a science fiction fan with real interest in the design approaches and methods used by film makers in bringing a story to life. I collect design portfolios from movies and love the different styles and techniques employed by initial concept design works. Through these I have found stylistic forms that resonate with me and I now employ in my own work.
Right now, life is about living and working aboard The Menace with my pug, Jasper (the bigger on the right). Taking on The Menace was a project in itself, having taken three months rebuilding and fitting out a narrow boat to living standards. I can now work and live here comfortably, but the project is far from finished. I have great aspirations for the place – and much to the dissatisfaction of the ever-suffering pug.
What I Do… (My Style & Perspective)
While a certain simplicity is gained by focusing on lines as a style, the process is not a simple one. Each building and landmark is unique. It is not enough to simply recreate the building. To do so would be to over-fill and over-complicate the image.
I spend as long as is necessary to discern the defining features, lines and patterning that fix that particular building/landmark in our minds.
Dimension, sense of scale and proportion are all significant. How this plays with space once it is free from the overall skyline on a single piece of paper can only be worked through once I begin stripping away the everyday to lift the form of the structure from the page.
Initially through site visits, I spend time photographing and learning about the building/landmark. From all angles I take in as much information as possible. Once back on the canal, I will then experiment with concepts and eking out the possibilities for the piece. Working in CAD (computer-aided design), I then establish initial ideas. Each line is separately rendered and positioned to bring about the final shape. Through experimentation, the structure will be refined to the finished look. A single building can go through 3-4 variations before I am satisfied that I have captured the true form and appearance.
Once satisfied with this, I will then move to the hand finish. Each piece is hand finished in different media, including watercolour paint, inks and dyes. The 3-Dimensional pieces are hand cut and raised to bring the image to life. Each piece can take on average 12-20 hours from initial concept to finished design. And each re-worked and hand-finished piece involves an additional 3-5 hours of work. I love what I do, and hope you love my work just as much!
Work With Me
Beyond what you will find in the Made on the Canal shop, I also provide my design skills on a freelance and commission basis. I am always interested in hearing potential project ideas and would love to discuss any proposals or collaborations you have in mind.
Services I Offer:
- Logo Concept & Design
- Branding Design
- Graphical Illustration for Books
- Commission work (particular buildings/landmarks not already available)
Please note: freelance/commission work will be at a higher valued cost than the items in the shop and will be fixed in initial discussions regarding your project. All intellectual rights of any commissioned artwork will still be retained by Thomas Parry and Made on the Canal | ParryDesign and must be credited unless exclusivity is discussed in initial discussions.