Everyone has a time that they want to escape to: a time and place when it was easier to think, feel and be yourself. There are so many different stages to life – each with its own beginning and end, fading in and out. And it’s not until we reach the next stage, that we look back and think about how everything has changed. Houses change, the people around us change and we change. Growing older, we see things in a new light.
Everyone has a childhood and even though we can’t go back, the freedom, life and adventures will always stay with us and make us who we are today. Capturing the essence, innocence and freedom of childhood is artist Toby Rampton, who, in his illustrations, depicts a world of colour and of times gone by.
With a love for all things graphic, fun, whimsical and energetic, Toby’s art reflects his passion for picture books and cartoons from the 40s and 50s, all finished in a simple and fun style.
After discovering his love for illustration at an early stage, Toby works with a limited colour palette on thick, off-white paper to create his look.
“I love proper hands-on drawing. Sometimes I’ll go for a collage using scrap paper and just see what textures I can find. And then I might paint on top of that using gouache paint, which is similar to watercolours but much more dense and has a thick pigment. I use paint brushes, good pens, pencils and crayons,” he says.
Underlying Toby’s work is a world of innocence and his drawings not only focus on playful subjects such as nature, cars and trains, but they also capture the unconditional happiness and energy of childhood.
“I would like to think my work makes people feel happy and nostalgic – maybe it will even make them laugh,” says Toby. “I’m always aware of overdosing on the cute but I like to keep things positive. I like vehicles and trains and I’ve always been interested in Thomas the Tank Engine,” he says. “If I’m in standby mode, I’ll either draw a cat or a distant, weird vehicle. I like that most of my drawings don’t look 100% representative. It’s more about capturing the movement.”
As well as illustration, Toby makes his own prints using various methods including screen printing.
“Screen printing helps me expose all the textures. I tend to keep it quite loose and fun by working on sheets of acetate and then I draw straight on to that with ink crayons and pencils. That way I get really vibrant colours which you can’t get from digital printing. It helps me keep everything bright and colourful,” says Toby.
Even though Toby prefers to stay hands-on with his artwork, he uses digital methods to edit and play with prints on screen.
“If i’m doing work for a client, I’ll scan in my artwork and draw everything on separate layers in grayscale. That way it’s easy to edit and change the colours as well as move bits away,” he says. “But when I get an opportunity to draw, I will. I am quite into paper engineering and have a keen interest in books that are interactive so pop-up books and ones with moving parts. I like working with physical things. I think it’s important to keep that level of interactivity.”
For Takeaway Art Toby has combined his interest in paper cutting with printmaking and has created a selection of 3D animals for you to put together.
“There is an elephant and a lion. They’re all hand cut and painted I’ve also screenprinted a tea towel to go with them. You can use it in the kitchen or you can use it as a background for the animals,” he says. “I like how design can work in someone’s home rather than just artwork on the wall.”
The art is the beginning of a collection Toby is currently making entitled Feeling Wild, seen here for the first time. As it grows, it will include crockery, prints, cards and other giftware items.
“I love to create and I get a lot of satisfaction out of finishing a piece. It’s a labour of love drawing from sketch books and it can take a while but it gives me much more control over my work and it makes it look unique.”
Find out more about toby and his art at www.tobyrampton.com