Great ideas when executed with the right tools and inspirations and a little spark of creativity open the doors to new opportunities. At an early age, artist Tobias Hall has achieved quite a bit of these opportunities that made him earn a name in the creative industry. Tobias, whose works transcend in various creative fields including lettering, illustration, design and mural painting, has done works for Zizzi Restaurant, TV Magazine, Del Barber, Seattle Magazine and more.
As our latest featured artist, Tobias spent some time with YTD in an interview talking about his career, creative inspirations, Zizzi and freelancing. Check out the interview below:
YTD: How are you Tobias? Give us a little background about you and your creative work.
TOBIAS: I’m good thanks! Ok so, I’m Tobias. I’m 25 and since graduating in 2010 I’ve been working as a freelance illustrator, designer and mural artist in London.
YTD: Your works span from illustration and lettering to design and murals. How do you manage to cope up with such variety of creative fields? Which of these fields are you most passionate about?
TOBIAS: I guess I’ve just been really lucky to get opportunities to work in those fields on a regular basis, which has allowed me to continue to improve. I know I’m unlikely to become world-renowned for any one aspect of my practice, but I’ve always been fairly well rounded as a creative. I wouldn’t say I’m more passionate about one than I am about another.
YTD: How do you usually start your day?
TOBIAS: Well it depends if I’m working with Zizzi that day. If I am, I wake up at 7.15, eat and then jump on the tube into Marylebone, central London, where Zizzi HQ is based. Otherwise, I’ll get up slightly later and mosey on down to the little studio I have downstairs. I still live with the parents, so it’s nice to have a separate room in which to work.
YTD: How was it working as an in-house designer for Zizzi?
TOBIAS: It’s great. It’s a long-term freelance contract consisting of 3 days a week, but that increases when it’s super-busy. The great thing about the Zizzi setup is its flexibility. I’m able to decide which of the 3 days I work, which means when there is other work coming in from elsewhere I can still take it on.
YTD: Where do you get your creative inspirations from?
TOBIAS: Gosh, lots of things. I guess the obvious answer here would be music, which is an ever-present part of my creative process, but all sorts of things inspire me!
YTD: Your wall murals are truly exceptional! Can you share us your usual creative process? From where do you start?
TOBIAS: Generally speaking, I’ll start the piece as if it were a normal illustration. Often I’ll have the wall elevation as a template so that I know the dimensions and proportions to stick to. Often you have very little time to finish the work, so I’ll sometimes use a projector as a guide to help speed things up. Materials I use are mainly just emulsion mixed with acrylic until I have the right colours. For the more typographical pieces I like the accuracy of paint pens over a brush.
YTD: Describe to us your workplace.
TOBIAS: This differs when I’m in my studio to on site with Zizzi. At home I have a nice big desk with a nice big iMac on it and nice big A3 printer/scanner to one side. With Zizzi I have a slightly smaller MacBook Pro, but there are a load of cool people around to chat to, which you obviously don’t have at home so much. They’re both great environments to work.
YTD: How do you deal with creative block?
TOBIAS: Generally I just try and take a break if I can. Like every other creative on the planet, I struggle with confidence from time to time, so when that’s the case I just make a bit of personal work that I’ve wanted to do for a while and that I know will work. In the past, I’ve tried to force myself to make something, but I just rush into it without a solid concept, which is never a good idea.
YTD: What is the most important lesson you learned so far from freelancing?
TOBIAS: That’s a tough one. I think it’s super important to make the most of every opportunity that comes your way. I try and exceed the client’s expectations on every job. It’s also important that you’re easy to work with, so striking that balance between standing your ground when necessary without being difficult, has been hard.
YTD: If you are not a designer today, what would have been your work and why?
TOBIAS: I think it would probably be something to do with sport. I’ve always loved playing sport, but I’m not especially great at it – so maybe I would be a physio or something.
YTD: Things you enjoy doing not related to design or creative work.
TOBIAS: Like I say, I love getting out and about to play sport, especially tennis and football – otherwise, I just do the sort of stuff that everyone does – relaxing with pals, going to gigs… the usual stuff.
YTD: What is your most memorable project so far?
TOBIAS: That’s a tough one. The Holiday Inn mural I recently finished has gone down really well online, and feel like it could be a milestone with regards to exposure, but there have been loads of other big projects that I remember fondly. It’s easy to think of the murals straight away when asked this question, because they often take the longest time and are obviously on the biggest scale, but a personal illustration project called ‘Passengers’ was just as important, because it marked a change in style, which I liked.
YTD: What is your personal take about “spec” work?
TOBIAS: I’ve pitched for jobs before without having gotten paid for it. I think when you’re a fresh graduate, competitions can be a good way to work to a brief and fill out your portfolio, but there comes a time when it needs to stop. I would never do it now, no chance. I think it’s essentially down to the designers themselves to stop doing spec work.
YTD: Who is your design hero?
TOBIAS: Throughout it was David Foldvari, but I’m also a massive fan of Keith Haring. More recently I’ve started following the work of people like Kilian Eng, Steve Simpson, Jack Hughes, Nick Sheehy… loads more. besides that I can’t think of right now. I try and keep up to date with all the people at the top of the creative industries; their work is what keeps me wanting to improve.
YTD: One thing/tool you can’t design without.
YTD: Describe to us your dream project.
TOBIAS: I can’t think of one specific project, but I’d love to work on some editorial portraits or book covers. That would be awesome!
YTD: A piece of advice to aspiring designers out there.
TOBIAS: I think, just keep creating good work and put it in front of people whenever you can.
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Stay awesome everyone!