Tobias Hall speaks with pure unpretentious honesty. He is an artist who seems to have found himself at a very early age and although he is still exploring and growing, there is a strong sense of “feet-on-the-ground” that emanates from his words. Tobias’ art is crisp, young and fun. His letterings and images cut through the anxious depressing glaze of everyday malaise and delivers a clear and clean perspective. There is something innocent and whimsical about his work, but there is also something very sophisticated and professional about it. We were truly ecstatic to be a able to steal a little bit of this busy Londoners’ time for the great interview below.
We peppered the feature with a cross section of Tobias’ work to portray the breath of his talent.
“I’ve never been one for talking much about art, partly because I want to avoid spewing out cheesy …”
Tell us a little about yourself – where you grew up, what you liked as a child, where you live now, etc.?
I guess I had a pretty normal upbringing really – I’ve lived with my parents and siblings just outside East London for all my life. I’m 26 now, and the setup is still pretty much the same, although I plan on moving out soon.
When did you get involved in art?
I suppose I conform to the cliché of having always enjoyed drawing from a pretty young age – my Dad was a car mechanic for Vauxhall and I remember as a kid I used to design new cars on assorted pieces of paper and give them to him “to take in and show the boss” in the hope they would one day actually put them into production. Through my early school years, art class was always my favorite, and that continued throughout my education.
What does art mean to you?
The obvious answer is that it’s a way of communicating ideas with other people, but recently for me personally it’s taken on a more commercial function; clients use my work to communicate their own values and ideas. I’ve never been one for talking much about art, partly because I want to avoid spewing out cheesy metaphors, but also because I like the idea of subjectivity; people taking their own meaning from a piece of work is exciting.
How do you describe your form of art?
I’d say it’s a mixture of illustration and hand lettering, with an emphasis on the latter in recent years.
What is your preferred medium to work in/with?
Pencil, pen, a scanner and trusty Photoshop.
You graduated in 2010 and you have already done a lot of work with major brands like Lululemon, Holiday Inn, etc., what do you attribute your success so far to?
I think it’s a mixture of practice, a substantial amount of luck, making the most of opportunity and a decent understanding of what looks good. I was lucky enough to be asked to work on a few murals quite early on in my career and I think that’s what kick started things – it’s those murals that people like Holiday Inn and Lululemon saw and liked.
Your work has a commercial tilt to it – how do you balance creativity in your art form with the commercial demands?
It’s something I’ve had a lot of practice with in my ‘day job’ – when I’m not working for brands such as those you’ve mentioned above, I work in house as a designer and art director for a national restaurant chain. The work I do there is always a constant balance between creativity and communicating a message with immediacy and clarity.
You have a lot of cool artwork portraying various music stars – how did this come about?
Almost all of those pieces are self-initiated – music is, as with most creatives I would guess, a massive inspiration to my practice, so I thought it would be fun to set about creating a few portraits with a view to refining my style at the same time.
Since Style.No.Chaser is a men’s lifestyle magazine, what attributes/items/clothing /etc. do you think defines a man? What is your personal style?
I’m certainly no expert on what defines man’s style, but personally I tend to stick to fairly casual stuff, I’m partial to a 5 panel, fairly muted block colors and a nice pair of trainers, but I do like a shirt and shoes every now and again. It’s a mixed bag really! I do have a very big penchant for vintage watches, and hope to add to my little collection soon.
What advice would you give to a young artist who wants to follow your path?
I think it’s a case of practicing lots, getting your work in front of as many people as possible and making the most of every opportunity that comes your way.
Visit Tobias’ website to view more of his work or commission him.
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