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Back to his roots

Bob Dylan, Ronnie Wood, David Bowie - Tommy Perman?

Well, why shouldn't the bass player from FOUND be added to the list of musicians who dabble in art? Actually, Perman's body of work is more than mere dabbling – he met his fellow band mates while at Gray's School of Art in Aberdeen (he graduated with a first class honours degree in Fine Art in 2002) and, before that, studied art and design at Telford College in his native Edinburgh.

We meet up in the Scottish Storytelling Centre on the Royal Mile, which will not only host a retrospective of Perman's drawings, but was also the venue a couple of nights earlier for the Bits Of Strange Homecomings Tour, in which FOUND and King Creosote collaborated on the latest version of the latter's ever-mutating, audience-recorded, live-event-only "album" My Nth Bit Of Strange In Umpteen Years.

On the ground floor of the building, in the main space to the side of the café, there's a wall that will display Perman's work. A rather large and daunting wall, it has to be said, but Perman has more than enough material to fill it. When not making music or handling the visual side of FOUND's presence – the record covers, the merchandise, the website – he has been developing his personal style in different series of drawings, often working from photographs of urban spaces.

"The artists I like most do not exist in one world," he says. "They sit on the edge between an illustrator and a graphic designer while also being recognised as a fine artist

"One of my key reasons for wanting to be in a band was to do record sleeves. When I was a wee kid, I used to draw cassette covers when making a compilation or copying an album. I'd always try to duplicate the cover by hand, and thought it would be great to do that for a living. Well, at least I have that outlet, to create an artwork that a lot of people are guaranteed to see because it'll be in adverts and record shops."

A glance through Perman's portfolio throws up all sorts of associations beyond the music industry. There are cityscapes and empty motorways that have echoes of JG Ballard, drawings that look like frames from an unwritten graphic novel, others that could be street or graffiti art. Sometimes the splashes of isolated colour in an urban scene seem like elements within a less abstracted Mondrian painting.

As well as having released three albums (the most recent, Factorycraft, on the Chemikal Underground label, came out in March last year) FOUND have an increasingly high-profile art collective side, which brings in scientist Simon Kirby as a fourth member.

Their technologically quirky projects have included mechanical-band-in-a-cabinet Cybraphon, which appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2009, sound installation #UNRAVEL (with Aidan Moffat) and the Great Circle audiovisual iPhone app for the Scotland Can Make It! exhibition currently on show at the People's Palace. Perman's solo work, by his own admission, is much less concerned with concept.

"I've always felt my drawings are accessible even though they're quite technical," he says. "It takes a long time to draw them, and I can get lost in the detail, spending days just drawing bricks. Hopefully, it's the same as the way I deal with music and the FOUND projects: they should be accessible for pretty much everybody, but there's always going to be another layer underneath them if you're willing to scratch the surface."

Drawings by Tommy Perman: 2002-2012 is at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh from December 14-January 5

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