The Great British Bake Off has become a core part of television in the UK. Having achieved viewer ratings as high as 16 million, the series is a weekly habit for countless households around the country, and part of its success comes down to the rituals contained within the show. There’s the familiar key elements: the Bake Off tent, the sprightly music, the zany adverts. Then there’s the dynamic between the grounded judges and the unpredictable presenters. Lastly, of course, there are the recipe illustrations, which have been created by Tom Hovey since the first series.
Driven to have some form of artistic career from a young age, Hovey gained a national diploma at art college followed by a higher national diploma in sequential illustration, where he learnt about storyboarding and comic book art. He went on to complete a degree in illustration at Arts University Bournemouth, and connected with art collectives in Bristol and eventually London, where he later relocated (he has since returned to live in Newport, South Wales, where he’s from). It was in London that he crossed paths with the Great British Bake Off and has been creating illustrations for the show that visualise the bakes for over a decade.
Most of his year is now consumed by work across the Bake Off titles; the rest of his time is spent on personal work or other client projects ranging from projects for baking brand Homepride to a food hall in Bristol. Hovey was also commissioned by British band Idles to create a poster (cakes were off the menu, so he illustrated an enticing sundae for the artwork instead).
As the Great British Bake Off approaches the end of its tenth year, Hovey talks to us about how he honed his style, the process behind working on the show, and where illustration sits in the foodie landscape.