This week in Print Stories we talk to artist Toby Melville-Brown about the inspiration and process behind his work. Scroll down to find out more and see the artist’s process.
Toby is a London based illustrator who draws inspiration from the city; it’s stories and possibilities. His research manifests in highly detailed drawings, that combine architectural textures, human experience, and a touch of fantasy.
I am a very visual person. Recently I decided my main drivers are; Scale, Transition, Praise and Novelty. So if I can go somewhere new, watch a vista change from day to night and know my creative response will be enjoyed, then I’m happy.
I wanted to do a drawing that allowed me to chat with as many people as possible. I asked everyone I know to send me a snap of their lockdown surroundings. I drew each entry to form a big block of flats. As if we were all neighbours. I had 175 entries and sold prints of the artwork to raise money for Refuge. We raised over £7500. That was a nice way to occupy my mind and also to connect with people.
I love train journeys. I read that the pace of a train is the perfect speed for our brains to digest visual information. It’s not an exact, but I find sitting looking out of a train window an absolute feast for my brain.
I wanted to celebrate those most special journeys with an artwork. And not just the vistas, but the interiors and the activities we might do on each ride. The result is a sort of chocolate box of dioramas.
I’ve done 9/16 train journeys. I’ll try to do them all but I’m in no rush.
The world around me, mostly. I’ve no doubt other artists have informed how I communicate my ideas and I do look to others to compare notes, but it’s not what galvanises me. Despite attempts to vary my diet, non-fiction is what I like. Our planet, the things people have done and are doing is so endlessly mind-blowing, I’m rather occupied with that.
Think about it. Maybe do a sketch. Then talk about it. I have a selection of people who I greatly respect, who I like to share my ideas with. It’s part show off, part quality control – if I don’t get an enthusiastic reaction, I get the hint. Following that, I might make a collage on Photoshop, sketch out sections in my sketchbook. Then, if I still like it, I’ll turn off my phone and begin and spend lost of time with a big piece of paper and a pen.
I used to try and battle detachment with perseverance. But it didn’t work.
Taking a break works well. For a few hours or the rest of the day. So, rather than seeking inspiration, I just allow my brain to recharge.
Probably a float mount in white, grain. The print has a lot of detail so I would recommend a frame that allows the content space.
With lots of different textures and moods. And sure, a vaguely consistent colour palette to tie it together. Old things, new things, different mediums like photography, tapestry, artefact, if you can. Print wise, given this print is quite informative, I might want to pair it with something calm and abstract. I really like Your Light by Seraphina Neville.