An interview with Toby Mortimer
Who is Toby Mortimer? Tell the readers a bit about the man behind the illustrations.
I’m a 25 year old freelance animator from West London. Although my profession is animation, my life and biggest passions are music and football…more specifically Chelsea! I just recently did the animation for their 2017/18 Pre Season Tour, which was a massive honour!
Ah, you support the blues! I’m not that much of a football fan myself actually. My brother’s always raving about Arsenal. So, when did you start drawing? When did you realise that you wanted to make a career out of it?
I remember my mum saying that I was always drawing as a kid. As soon as I could hold a pencil, I was apparently drawing away. I used to draw what was on the TV instead of actually watching it! I never really planned on making animation a career. Even in my first year of uni, I was thinking about changing course to Music Tec after having changed to Animation from Sports Science in the first place! I guess I chose animation initially because I really enjoyed art at school. To be honest, it was a something you could do whilst listening music that didn’t involve too much writing! I felt I should give the animation course a chance. I stuck with it and things have slowly progressed to now.
Interesting. I really enjoyed art at school too. I was the creative one, I definitely got that from my Dad. How would you describe your artistic style?
I’ve always been into hand-drawn art and that’s the same in terms of animation. I’ve done several jobs which don’t consist of much creative freedom, or involve working with what’s given to you. So, you don’t really get to put your stamp on the artistic style. I think I’m slowly developing my style the more I get to do my own initiated projects.
I really like how you’ve used both your love for music and art to make a career. What type of music do you listen to? Do you have any artist suggestions for the readers?
I grew up in a really musical family with family members in the industry too. Music has always been constant my whole life. There’s always music round the house from soul to jazz, funk, reggae, blues and rock. Getting Bob Marley and Hendrix records as presents as a kid, hearing Sam Cooke, MJ, Aretha, Miles Davies, Marvin Gaye and many more when you wake up and go down for breakfast can only be a good thing! I’m also massively into hip hop. Hip hop when it had actually meaning and creativity behind the lyrics and beats, the likes of Gang Starr, Common, Nas, Outkast, Tribe, Pac, Fugees and Biggie to name a few. Not, what’s out nowadays – in my opinion! Wow, it’s almost impossible to give suggestions of artists…that’s like saying whats your favourite song. I mean the artists I’ve mentioned above are not a bad way to go.
I can definitely relate. I myself grew up listening to a lot of jazz. My Dad used play Sax. He always had a playlist going whenever he took me and my brother out when we were younger. You’ve done a pretty good job of getting some of the greats in there. I think Rite Where U Stand by Gang Starr ft Jadakiss is definitely my go track by him. Which musicians would like to create illustrations for in the future and why?
There’s too many musicians out there to pick! I guess it would depend more on what the project is rather than who it is. Then again if I could choose my perfect client, it would have to be a favourite artist that’s still around D’angelo, Erykah, Lauryn Hill, Common, Nas, Tribe and Outkast etc. I’m aiming pretty high there!
I get that, it is a bit of a tough one. What do you hope to bring to the industry that is different and unique?
I’ve never thought about this too much if I’m honest. Perhaps in later life we’ll see.
So, I did some digging. I found out that you helped with the animation on the music video for Loyle Carner’s Stars & Shards. That’s amazing man and he’s extremely talented. How did that opportunity come about?
I got to help out a bit on Loyle’s video through Anna Ginsburg, who is an amazing animator and director…check her stuff out! I had just worked with her on another music video we did a year before, for an artist called Steve Mason. So, that’s how the Loyle Carner opportunity came about. Although I only helped out on a few scenes, it was still a great experience and as you said he’s really good. He’s definitely heading to bigger things.
Oh cool! There are a lot of struggling illustrators and artists out there. What advice can you give them to keep going?
I mean I still consider myself as a ‘struggling artist’ to some extent. There’s been many times when I have no work on – I guess that’s the nature of freelance. I think it’s the same as any job or in life in general. The thing to do is not give up when you’re down and to keep working hard everyday. Put your all into it. Apply to studios. Pester and hassle anyone you can think of, not just your mates. Keep practising and something will come up. Another piece of advice I can give is to invest in the equipment!
Yes, investing in equipment is key! I had to invest in a couple gadgets myself actually. I took a look at your website and I see you’ve got lots more to come. Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I’m genuinely not too sure at the moment. I’m still at a really early stage in my life and career. I’m still learning and just doing the jobs I can get at the moment. It would be cool to continue to work on music and football related animations though.
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