Tom Middleton was born in Lancaster, England in 1984. After moving to London to start a career as
a musician, he decided to fund his aspirations by creating and selling art. Tom is a self taught artist,
spending years developing his style with graphite to create dynamic images, establishing himself as
an award winning wildlife artist.
Since turning professional in 2012 he has raised thousands of pounds for conservation, become an
art ambassador for Helping Rhinos and achieved many awards. He has found success in Wildlife
Artist of the Year, run by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation in association with BBC Wildlife
Magazine. In 2019 he was highly commended for his piece ‘King Elephant’, 2020 his piece ‘Silver
Lining’ won the category ‘Into The Blue’ and 2021 his piece ‘Here’s Johnny!’ was also highly
commended, featuring in BBC’s Discover Wildlife magazine.
Tom chooses wildlife as he finds the subject more engaging, drawing life onto the paper. However,
it also gives his work purpose, raising funds in aid of animal welfare. His work has been exhibited
in collaboration with Bear Grylls at the Race for Rhino Survival, Chelsea Football Club, many
auctions around the world including The Painted Dog conservation with ‘The Lion Whisperer’,
Kevin Richardson, contributing towards ‘The Four Oarsmen’ row the Atlantic in world record time
in aid of mind and spinal research and ongoing work with Helping Rhinos Foundation.
Over the years Tom has attracted a host of celebrity clients including Jason Momoa, Myles
Kennedy, Dylan Efron, Clare Balding, Clive Standen, Dougie Poynter, Louise Redknapp and
This year Tom will be undertaking trips around the world to document endangered species,
determine the causes, solutions and human impact on the environments most affected, including;
South Africa, India and the Maldives. Upon returning he will produce artworks from reference
photographs taken, to again raise funds in aid of animal welfare from the areas visited.
How did you become the artist you are today?
My career path started by simply trying to fund myself in London whilst focusing on being a
musician. A little extra income to provide a more comfortable lifestyle. I only had interest in
producing wildlife art as the subject interested me the most and always in graphite pencil. I’ve
always felt very comfortable using graphite, applying varying pressures on the paper through your
hand and fingers to achieve the different textures required in capturing your subject. No other
medium works as well as graphite for me in doing this.
After a year or so I met some incredible people in conservation. It was then I discovered what I
wanted my work to stand for, giving the artwork purpose and meaning if I was able to raise funds
and awareness for the welfare of animals.
How do you support wildlife conservation and why do you choose to do so? I now support conservation by donating a percentage of profits through every print sale. Provide
artworks for auctions devoted to raising funds for conservation and raising awareness as an Art
Ambassador for Helping Rhinos Conservation; @helpingrhinos
What has been your biggest learning curve as an artist? As an artist, learning how to capture dynamic images through perspective and viewpoint to create
exciting snapshots of animal behaviour. However, the biggest learning curve has been having my
eyes opened to the devastation of poaching, hunting and fishing that we as humans are inflicting
upon countless species across the globe. Without being a wildlife artist I wouldn’t have been
educated on these matters through the attendance of conservation speeches and fundraisers.
What is your favourite/ most enjoyable part of being a wildlife artist?
My most enjoyable part is definitely the last few days on a piece I’ve been working on for the past 6 months! When you’re working on such a huge piece of artwork, creating the entire image by eye, it’s quite mentally exhausting in the early stages and right through towards the end. However, once the piece is coming together it’s very rewarding having gone through that process to finally see the artwork come to fruition.
My favourite piece is ‘Here’s Johnny!’, which measures 59.1 x 36.7 inch.
This was produced in graphite pencil, excluding the eye. The eye was done in charcoal. The reason behind this is because studying shark eyes, they can appear very dense and I wanted to capture that contrast between the
high gloss sheen of water on the shark skin to the very matt black and dense texture of the eye. Also as you walk around the piece the light will reflect off the graphite giving the entire image movement but the eye will always remain fixed and black which gives it an extra dimension when standing in front of it in person.
It also gave me the opportunity to reach out to the photographer who took the reference picture, create a friendship and learn about shark conservation through his work too; @harrystone_photo.
Again, any sales of this piece contribute towards raising funds for shark conservation.
This piece was Highly Commended in DSWF Wildlife Artist of the Year 2021 and featured in the BBC Wildlife Magazine; Discover Wildlife.
Which species are you most involved or interested in supporting through conservation projects?
I’m most involved in rhino conservation, with Helping Rhinos. Rhinos require round the clock
protection from those who see nothing other than profitable gain for their own selfish greed. These
people do not understand nor care that such a beautiful animal as the rhino will become extinct.
They will simply move on to the next species they can profit from. This is why it is vital we all
unite against these people before it’s too late.
What is the best piece of advice you could give an aspiring wildlife artist? I would suggest meeting and conversing with as many artists and conservationists as possible.
People open doors you might not otherwise get the opportunity to walk through having not been so
sociable. They can lead to many offers to produce artwork in aid of conservation. Networking is
From an artwork perspective I would take as much information as you can from artists you admire,
learn from them and be inspired. However, take these lessons and produce artwork that is totally
your own. Look for ways to look upon wildlife from different perspectives and angles that no one
else has discovered, some may not work but that’s not the point The point is to get out of your
comfort zone and learn. Find obscure subject matter that no one else has done, this will get you
recognition as you’re the only artist willing to explore these species. After all this you will have
become a more accomplished artist and view the popular species, such as elephants and tigers, with a different and more experienced eye.