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Tor Freeman

As a child

I was born in London, but a South African mother meant frequent trips there when I was little, and memories of holidays with my grandparents next to the sea are some of my most powerful and influential. I remember finding tortoises, catching prawns with a tin and burying sea urchins, and one glorious time falling fully clothed off the boat into the river. The best days were after a storm, when everything was washed up onto the beach and you could find all kinds of weird shells and animals that you’d never seen before. More than drawing, I remember collecting things being my passion – shells, stones, anything you could find on the ground. In fact maybe I should blame my terrible posture today on having walked most of my childhood looking down.

As an adult

Leaving secondary school, I knew I wanted to study art, but hadn’t really registered that illustration might be a degree all by itself. Finding that it was, I went to Kingston, and meeting a class of twenty other people interested in the same things as me was sort of a revelation – here were more people who’d drawn fairies in their teens, liked to talk about types of pencil and thought Maurice Sendak was wonderful. I was sure that this was the way forward, and having the freedom to expand my ideas and practise drawing for those three years was wonderful.

As an artist

I think my drawing changes year by year, and I feel more confident as time goes on. I like to make funny images, and was very influenced by comic strips when I was younger – I still am. I’d like to get better and better at making stories that are funny but about real things, with lots of humour in the detail. The feeling I get now when drawing is the closest thing to the excitement I felt in spotting frogs and shells when I was little.

Things you didn't know about Tor Freeman

  1. I bought myself a lovely guitar, which I can play only medium well.
  2. I lived in America for five years and went to a cheerleading try out once, but only to watch.
  3. I was once bitten by a monkey in a pet shop. My sister was bitten by a goose, my uncle by a camel and my brother by a baby tiger – clearly this runs in our family!
  4. I like to sew my own dresses, but they all come out looking the same.
  5. I am a great-aunt.
  6. When I was little, I loved Kermit the Frog and used to blush when he came onscreen. I still think he’s one of the nicest characters ever created.
  7. I love drawing crocodiles, lizards and tortoises, and think they all look good in hats.
  8. Until I was about 12, I was a terribly picky eater, and would only eat apples, ham sandwiches and crisps. That was until I discovered ketchup.
  9. At school I was good at throwing the discus and doing pull-ups, due to my unnaturally strong arms.
  10. My favourite noise is doves cooing, and my favourite smells are the sea and suntan lotion.

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