Email interview with Toby 01/04/13, by OwlFacedBoy
So Toby, what got you started?
Growing up in London in the early ’80’s I was exposed to a huge amount of imagery, from fly posters for music and amazing film posters to early graffiti. Then I came across films like Wild Style (1983), Beat Street (1984), Breakin’ (1984) and was blown away by the whole hip hop/graffiti culture – it’s music and imagery. At around the same time I saw something on TV about Afrika Bambaataa & the Soulsonic Force who were driving around the Bronx, New York with Malcolm McLaren.
What has influenced your art?
New York seemed like a city from the future like Mad Max, which I was amazed by. I then came across a book called Subway Art (1984) by illegal means (sorry to the Upper Street bookshop!) and was inspired even more, but not to go and spray up trains (though I wanted to), instead I doodled a lot on paper and made collages at home. I then got into a sort of tagging, writing my name all over London, walls, tubes, schools, telephone boxes etc. It only lasted a few years because I got caught up in the whole ’80’s football culture which took over for a good few years ….. until Acid House exploded, Acccccccccciiiiiiiiiddddddddd!!!!!!!!!!!!
I then got my first artistic job in the late ’80’s working for Me Company Design Studio, specialising in music packaging design, (working for acts like The Sugarcubes/Bjork, Erasure, Finitribe and The Shamen) as a PMT Camera operator. I worked there for three and a half years and working there was a major influence on my life. I was working with some of the UK’s best Graphic Designers/ Art Directors/Photographers during this time and learned a huge amount from all of them.
In around 2003, after working in Argentina and visiting Brazil for a while, I was again inspired by street art, it was everywhere. JR had a big impact on me in Brazil, I then went to Berlin and was amazed by how much art there was on the streets, I wanted to do all of it and came back to London with fresh ideas.
Where have you shown your work?
I have exhibited my work at galleries in Berlin, London and Hastings, and my work has been pasted up in London, Paris, Berlin, Antwerp, Hastings, Brighton etc, etc. I’m now working out of a studio in St Leonards-on-Sea, UK.
Any current street art inspirations?
I am inspired at the moment by Donk, Pablo Delgado and Fauxreel.