Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Interview | Peter O' Toole

Peter O' Toole is a freelance illustrator/graphic designer from Huddersfield, England. He is also the creator of Dirtcheap Magazine and Fresh Kids art night. I managed to get Mr O' Toole away from his computer tonight to have a quick chat about himself, his business and clothes.

An Interview With Peter O' Toole

Could you tell us a bit about your background in art and illustration before Peter O’ Toole Illustrations? 

Of course, basically I have been drawing all my life and always enjoyed it. I started taking it seriously in year 10 of high school when we had to choose two subjects to specialise in. I chose graphic design and art. This is when I realised I could probably make a career from it and this is where my journey began. After school it was pretty much run of the mill, I went to art college for 2 years (Huddersfield Tech/Highfields) where we did everything from photography to 3d design. I specialised in Illustration and went on to Bradford Uni for 3 years to get my degree in Graphic Media Communication.Throughout all these years I was doing some kind of freelance on the side. Started by painting portraits then onto gig posters/ flyers ect. When I left Uni I worked as a gardener for a year and did freelance on the side. Then in 2010 I made the leap to full time illustrator! so basically from high school to starting my own business took a decade!

When was Peter O’ Toole Illustrations born? And what was the reason for going it alone? 

Born officially in 2010. There where a few reasons for going it alone. Firstly I was in danger of getting into a comfort zone at the place I was working, I had taken on a more admin style role (writing risk assesments and stuff) and it was as easy or as hard as you made it. Secondly I worked with a guy who was old, had done nothing with his life and carried a chip on his shoulder, the world owed him something and he must have got three or four people the sack whilst I was there (just over a year). So he now was focusing on me and trying to make my life a ballache. So at the time I hated the guy, but if it wasn't for him I would not have just turned around one day and said, forget this. I left and after a few months perusing another job (photo retouching) i set up on my own. If he hadn't of been there I guess i would still be working there now doing the same thing day in day out!

Can you tell us a bit about Peter O’ Toole Illustrations? 

Its basically just me, Peter O'Toole. Peter O'Toole illustrations is my 'official' registered business name. I freelance illustrate/design out of my studio in Huddersfield.

You have a Studio/Office, could you tell us a bit about that? 

Yeh its probably the kind of place I would have always wanted to end up in as an aspiring illustrator, the only thing is I stumbled upon it before I actually went freelance, so not only am I living the dream I am also working in my dream space. I'm very lucky. I share the space with a few other illsutrators and designers and it is on the top floor of an old mill. We have awnings for ceilings and its HUGE. It's forever evolving, we just built a cinema/screening room in here about a month ago!

Now that art/illustration has become a job for you, do you switch off from it outside the Office/Studio? Or do you still find yourself picking up a pencil, or running a editing software on your PC at home? 

I used to work from home for about a decade, and there was no cut off point, I would work till 3 every morning and maybe not get up till 12, work in my dressing gown. Eventually the walls started caving in on me so I rented the studio I'm in now. As soon as I rented I moved everything from my house to my studio and never work at home (maybe once in the last three years). I forced myself into this position. I have a wife and need to spend time with her so it works out great for all parties. Worse comes to worse I sleep at work!

What/who inspires or has inspired you? 

In the late 90s I got well into graffiti, yorkshire writers like spymad and rakar were the guys I looked up to. Then it evolved to artists like Jason Sho Green and Michael Gillette. But nowadays I rarely look at other illustrators/artists. I think its a bad habit as subconsciously your work starts looking like theirs. Although I have often done things I thought where original and stumbled upon very similar stuff! 

Do you have a set of regular clients or are you always getting new ones contacting you? 

I have my regulars and I have clients who come and go. My best business is repeat business though. I really liek building relationships with clients as it can help both parties evolve!

We are aware that you have beenworking closely with the lads at CasualCo. How and when did that come about? And are you hoping to continue working with them in the future? 

The guys contacted me to do a tee with them about a year and a half ago, I really enjoyed it and we seemed on the same page so I offered to do regular work for them if they were down! It's blossomed since then really, we have a lot of cool things in the pipeline! def things that I think will change the game a bit and set a standard. We come from the same sort of backgrounds so it just seems natural working with those guys.

Is there any other clothing labels you have done work for? 

Yeh loads! but I do a fair bit for Addict Clothing Co. The artists these guys had on their roster when I was at college was phenomonal (mr jago, swifty, she1, C-LAW, steff, ben the illustrator) I had both their books and really looked up to the brand. Then I got the call from Chris Law in late 2010 to feature in the artist series and have been working with them ever since, its really surreal and I enjoy every minute of it.

Your probably aware that here at ACM we are passionate and obsessed with clothing and style. Is clothing something you have an interest in? 

Yeh of course! although my look now is more of a hybrid of everything I have been into since I was about 15 years old! But the main one for me is Adidas trainers, I have been collecting since 2003, and although most have been passed on I still have pairs I will never let go of! I also love stone island jackets, although my collection is considerably smaller than my adidas one!

What is your favourite bit of clothing? What is your favourite label? 

I don't have a favorite label as such, if I think somethings nice I'll get it, I have a Strellson Utility Parker from years ago, it came with a lock and radio. I ctually had to break the lock when I was showing it off to a mate on a train and lovked myself to the table, I forgot the code and it was either leave the jacket or break the lock. I regret this to this day! But I also have some very rare one off adidas dublins I designed which you can read about on my website.

Finally, what does the future hold for you and Peter O’ Toole Illustrations? 

Onwards and upwards! I've come a long way but I have a long way to go, so hopefully world domination isn't too far away! and keep checking out the stuff we do with Casual Co!


Thanks for taking the time out to talk to us Pete and good luck for the future.ACM

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