“I blame my parents”
Toms father became a full time musician after founding and then selling the Young Artists Illustration Agency.
Toms mother, after graduating from the Chelsea School of Art, set up the Stained Glass Place in Chiswick, West London.
“I was brought up surrounded by music and art, and a definite feeling that a ‘proper job’ wasn’t for me. I’ve followed my heart rather than my head, creatively driven, rather than financially.”
Tom studied graphic design at Hounslow Borough college (now West Middlesex), just before Apple Mac changed the design world forever. Hand lettering, manual paste up and page layout, skills now redundant in the design world, are all still used in the traditional art of stained glass making.
Music has dominated Tom’s life. He still plays now with The Professionals (ex Sex Pistols) and The Men They Couldn’t Hang, but has recorded and toured with many more, including: The Yo-Yo’s, The Dog’s D’Amour, The Lurkers, Ginger Wildheart, Big Boy Tomato and his late father John B Spencer. Tom and his brothers still play their father’s songs regularly in Fast Lane Roogalator.
In between all that music various jobs (to pay the rent) including a tattoo apprenticeship, led to working with his mother at the Stained Glass Place.
“Whilst learning the craft of repairing, restoring and making stained glass panels, it occurred to me that my heavily tattooed body had the same basic make up as the panels – vivid colours surrounded in strong black lines”
At the time, Tom was living at The Treatment Rooms, a mosaic house in Chiswick (owned by Carrie Reichardt). He designed and made panels for the house.
“It all stemmed from there, one commission after another, and before I knew it, I had a business.”
In addition to personal commissions, his work has been displayed in various galleries, including the V&A as part part of the disobedient objects exhibition.
“A lot of my work is dictated by the customers, who have an idea which I then develop. This approach, inspired by the tattoo world. It may be my work, but it’s the customer who has to live with it”
More recently Tom has found time to work more freely, developing his own ideas. “I’m making panels that, if no one buys, I’ll be happy to live with”. A more fine art, rather than commercial approach.
Tom’s work is currently on display at Lights of Soho and Bank Robber galleries in central London.
He is currently working on an exhibition for the Halcyon gallery.
His studio is in North Acton, where he also runs West London Stained Glass, which handles traditional restorations and commissions.