Tobias Hall is a freelance illustrator, letterer, designer and mural artist working out of London. Since graduating in Summer 2010 he’s been working closely with UK-based Italian restaurant chain, Zizzi, as their in-house illustrator, designer and art director. He’s also been lucky enough to work on an eclectic mix of projects for a growing list of international clients.
We caught up with Tobias to find out about his work, his inspirations and why brands need that personal touch.
Could you describe your visual style for those that might not be familiar with your work?
Eclectic! I’ve been lucky enough to have had opportunities to develop different areas of my practice, from hand lettering to illustration, mural and design – so whilst I have quite a focused illustration style, it differs a lot from the lettering work I do. With regards to illustration, I usually combine hand drawn lines and textures with cleaner, more graphical elements, and I’ve also recently started using tone and shadow a lot more in an attempt to inject a bit of atmosphere into my work. The lettering stuff is very much inspired by vintage letterforms from as far back as the 1600’s, but I try and bring them up to date in some way.
What are your favourite projects/collaborations worked on to date?
I recently did a big mural for the Holiday Inn in Camden, which was a lot of fun, but I’m also really enjoying developing my lettering stuff in my spare time; I’ve just finished a new personal identity project based on some pretty old school lettering styles. I think it’s probably my most accomplished piece of lettering to date, so that was satisfying.
Who would you love to work with?
David A. Smith is a huge inspiration to me. He’s a traditional ornamental glass artist and letterer, and creates the most incredibly beautiful work I’ve ever seen. I’d love the chance to learn from him.
Who or what has influenced your work most?
When I was starting out throughout university I used to follow the work of David Foldvari a lot, maybe too much, but nowadays I don’t think I’m really inspired by any one artist. I try and keep up to date with people whose work I admire, but that’s probably more a source of motivation than it is direct inspiration.
Which brands do you think do visual content well and why?
I’m struggling to think past the obvious big brands such as Nike and Coke – I think perhaps those big guys use illustration more freely in the knowledge that for the most part, it’s them who will be setting the trends, which is maybe why you see such an array of creative styles in their campaigns? Editorial brands also use illustration really well though.
What does illustration bring to a campaign that other methods do not?
I think it allows you to portray character and personality far more flexibly than perhaps photography or design alone does. This is especially important to brands that need to add personality to a campaign or to their brand identity as a whole. There’s that old phrase that ‘people buy from people’, and I think illustration when used well with great copy can really enhance a brand’s personality and tone of voice.
What makes or breaks a brief?
For me personally it’s important that there’s clarity in the direction. In the past I’ve had clients who actually don’t really know what they want from the final piece and expect you to land on it with very little input from them, purely because you’re ‘creative’, which can become a bit of a nightmare. That said I imagine an open brief can also be one of the most satisfying if the client really believes in your work.
If you could learn how to do one new thing what would it be?
I think I’ll go back to mentioning David A. Smith and his glasswork here. I’d love to be able to produce something like that. This video is the one that originally blew me away.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an illustrator?
Probably a graphic designer.
Any wise words to leave us with?