Monday, 13 June 2011

Interview with Trevor Hammond

For those of you not in the know, during the 1980's Trevors Hammonds work was regularly featured in Games Workshop publications such as White Dwarf, Warlock, Black Sun, as well as advertising. Hammonds visuals injected both a sense of humour and a grimey atmosphere into articles on wide ranging roleplaying subjects from assassination to zombies and everything in-between.

Trev kindly took time out to answer a few questions and put pen to paper...

Shogmoor 1 - Trevor Hammond 2011
Hi Trev - let's start at the beginning - how did you first get involved in illustrating for Games Workshop?

Luck, I suppose. I’d dropped out of art school and managed to get a job at GW. During the quiet periods I’d sit around doodling science fantasy characters and word just got around that I could draw a bit. Next thing I know I’m getting commissions from the production department to provide illustrations for articles in White Dwarf.

You were also responsible for much of the 'Black Sun' 'zine - what was your involvement in that?

The inception of Black Sun was primarily down to the guys who worked in post room. It was simply created as a means of getting more people to subscribe to White Dwarf; however, it began to evolve a character that was essentially darker and more malevolent than its bigger, glossier brother. I was responsible for putting the flesh on the bones of the characters that appeared and to be honest they all began to develop a life force of their own.

For example, the concept of Ted was that he was initially just a teddy bear filled with iron balls so that the zombie Gunatha could use him as a club, we had no intention of giving him his own character, but a couple of issues later the boss-eyed little guy is up and about and as nuts as the rest of them.

The GW ads, with characters like Granny and Ted, alongside Zlargh and his zombie legions. It's hard to imagine a company like GW taking those kinds of creative risks today. Were these characters your creations or part of the brief?

Both. I had begun creating guys like Zlargh when I was first asked to put something together for the mail order adverts. Later, with Black Sun on the scene, the rest of the guys began to chuck in ideas and suggestions about what they would like and how the characters should develop and evolve. I would go home, sit up half the night drinking coffee, smoking fags and listening to numerous metal tracks on my Walkman trying to get these ideas onto paper.

Shortly after GW moved from London to Nottingham, your art seems to appear much less in White Dwarf and GW ads. Was that due to a change in management, of direction in the company or had you just got bored?

I decided to move up to Nottingham with some of the other guys and girls from GW. I was still producing illustrations but with so many of the creative influences missing and Black Sun declared dead and buried, it was difficult to maintain any enthusiasm. I eventually moved back to London where I worked for a short while in the production department of White Dwarf and Warlock but things were never quite the same. Everything was winding down and moving to Nottingham so it was just a case of waiting for the final curtain to fall and then switching the lights off when you left.

Tell us a bit about your materials and processes.

Initially I was using whatever I could get my hands on, primarily felt tips and then moving onto Rotring technical pens. These days I use a variety of pens, again Roting but also Uni-ball, Stabilo and Pental they’re all good, nib size varies from 0.3 to 0.8 depending on what part of the picture I’m working on.

Processes? It’s a case of trial and error. I don’t consider myself to be technically gifted so in the majority of cases it try and try again, I’m particularly critical and if the illustration isn’t going to plan it goes in the bin.

Strong black and white, graphic sensibilities along with a comic-book humour - what are the influences on your work?

It has to be the late, great Frank Frazetta. An absolute god in the world of fantasy art, no one comes near him, no one.

I also love the work of Ralph Steadman and Gerald Scarfe, two incredibly talented illustrators and cartoonists, technically brilliant skills, amazingly wild and unique styles. 

I see your work as embracing the 'underground' punk aesthetic - is music much of an inspiration?

Yeah, very much, particularly when I was creating characters for Black Sun and White Dwarf. I think subliminally the music you’re listening to does have some effect on what you’re putting down onto paper.  I like most metal bands in particular Maiden, Priest, Motorhead, Scorpions the usual 80's metal scene. Gun'n'Roses are a particular favourite as are Metallica and Megadeath. I also still love the classic stuff like Purple, Zeppelin, Hendrix, Uriah Heep and of course The Who. Metal was always a favourite with a lot of the ghoulish elements to my work, the heavier the darker. I still like Cliff Richard though!

Zhu - Trevor Hammond 2011

That's quite a classic old-school metal lineup there, but to quote the Young Ones "Oh no! Cliiiif!". Ahem.  Back on subject are / were you a gamer?

I was. I began playing D&D at the tender age of 15 and played regularly for about 12 years. To be honest, working at Games Workshop during the day, producing illustrations at night and role playing most weekends, I’m surprised I’m still sane! I suppose it kept me off the streets though.

Any plans for the future?

I’m still thinking about possibly starting a website of my stuff although there’s not much left from the old days so I’d probably have to start from scratch. To be honest, it’s only since I read the articles about my stuff from the 80s by you that I’ve started drawing again. So many thanks Zhu!

Hey no problem, its great to see new stuff from someone who was highly influential in my gaming style and art appreciation.  So I guess I owe you a pint for these new drawings, what are you having?

I'm a bit of a Wurzel when it comes to drinking as my favourite tipple is cider. I particularly like a Perry which is the pear version, Weston's Perry is pretty mind blowing! I do like it over ice which makes me a bit of a tart I suppose!

Yes, it does! Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions Trev' and putting pen to paper to create these new, somewhat warped fellows. I'm sure the legions of slavering man-things out there will agree you've not lost your touch.


  1. Thanks again for this! I really like Trevor's art and some of his pix for Warlock such as the Ring of Seven Terrors adventure, were very cool!



  2. Brilliant- loved Trevors stuff and looking forward to new goodness.

  3. I'm sure we'll be seeing more of Trev's handywork, both old and new quite soon!

  4. Now this brings back memories. I did O'level art in the mid-eighties and Trevor's work was a major influence on the stuff I doodled back then.

    This has inspired me to dig around in my loft to find my old portfolio!

    1. Be great to see your Trev inspired stuff Osbad.

      Be sure to check out Trevs art blog: Pitfiend.

  5. Late to the party as usual, but thanks for providing this massive nostalgia trip. I remember Trevor's work all over White Dwarf back in the day, and liking it immensely (along with Russ Nicholson's). Great to think these guys are still out there doing their stuff, 30 years on.