Tobias Illustrations is a Bristol, UK based creative director and co-founder of Illustrate. His hand-drawn, abstract designs are inspired by the wildlife and natural world around him. After graduating from university, he ventured off to India where he spent some time. It was there that his love for pattern work and symmetrical design really took off. He specializes in ‘zentangle’ art, which involves creating beautiful images by drawing structured patterns to form a larger piece.

Toby is the co-founder of Illustrate and heads up all the creative coming in and out of the company. His style is unmissable and has made Illustrate what it is today! 

Toby has kindly answered a few questions for us on his creative approach, ideal working environment and inspirations. Over to Toby!

Q: How old are you? 

A: 25

Q: Where are you based? 

A: Bristol

Q: So, when did you know that you would be an artist?

A: After I drew “The Stag”, which was my first large zentangle piece I fell in love with the medium. The patience and intricacy required always calmed me down, allowing me to block everything else and get into a trance-like state for hours. After sharing this design with friends and family and getting such positive feedback it felt great to know people appreciated what I could create. So I kept going and shortly after found myself doing it full time.

Q: How long did it take to refine your personal style? 

A: I think it’s still being refined, there are so many different techniques and styles I like creating with I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered any. Every time I start a new piece, I feel like I’m learning.

Q: Who are your inspirations, not just artists? 

A: The list is pretty extensive, in the age of social media I see work that inspires me daily but to name a few artists; Banksy (Being a Bristol boy), Sam Larson, Tyler Hays, Faye Halliday. Non-Artists – David Attenborough & Richard Branson.

Q: Do you have a favourite spot to work in? 

A: Yes, I like illustrating most in my room on my desk. Private and quiet. 

Q: Do you have a dream workshop/studio?

A: The above in a warm climate with an ocean view. 

Q: Why do you draw? Is there a particular idea you always look to portray? 

A: I guess mostly because it’s fun, it soothing, it’s challenging. I’ve always had a passion for wildlife and the natural world, so portraying the beauty of this through my work has always been important for me.

Q: What are the unique struggles of working with your chosen medium? 

A: Working with archival ink can be difficult, if you make mistakes you can’t erase it so either you start again or work around the error.  


Q: What's your favourite part of working with this medium? 

A: I like the intricacy and details you can create with ink, starting small and building up you can produce some really bold pieces.

Q: On average, how long does one of your pieces take to complete? 

A: For my larger zentangle designs, they can take between 35-50 hours. I like to take my time.


Q: If you could transform into an animal which one would you choose?

A: Arctic Wolf

Q: You aren't an artist, what are you doing instead? 

A: Wildlife filmmaker / photographer.

Q: Finally, any advice for aspiring artists? 

A: Start young, be patient and try to create something every day.


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