Tom Hovey studied BA (Hons) Illustration at AUB, graduating in 2006. Since graduating, Tom worked in London for a while, before landing the biggest gig of his life, illustrating one of the UK’s most popular television shows – The Great British Bake Off.

Tom now lives and works in Bristol. We visited his studio to catch up with him and find out just how he shaped his unique career as a food illustrator.

How does it work illustrating the show? Do you know which pieces will be used, or are you commissioned to draw them all?

I receive a pack of photos of the finished bakes from the set after each episode has been filmed that I use for reference. I sketch out all the bakes quickly in pencil to get the details, form and shape I am after. I then work these up hand drawing them all, these ink drawings are scanned and coloured digitally, I then add the titles and ingredient arrows. It’s a fairly well streamlined process now. We illustrate every bake on the show from the signature bakes and the showstoppers.

Have there been any cakes where your heart has dropped, have you thought, how am I going to draw this?

Haha yeah plenty, but I like a challenge. Some of them are more like technical drawings than cakes. There’s one I’m currently working on that has taken me three hours already and it’s just a pencil drawing! After the line drawing the graphics are made up then coloured, I have a couple of Illustrators who help now, and I’m now interviewing for an intern. For the first six years or seven years, I was on my own and it was a lot of work.
It is more than a full-time job, getting others in to help with the process has enabled me to take on other jobs that I was having to say no to before. GBBO is my biggest client, but I am building up a portfolio of work for other clients too, with lots of other food illustration.