Tony is an illustrator based in Liverpool. He was introduced to watercolour crayons in high school when he told his art teacher that he like drawing but can’t traditionally paint. His art teacher recommended watercolour crayons to him, and since then he has never stopped using them
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Plenty of artists, but often other things inspire my drawings too:
• Art Nouveau - Alphonse Mucha etc.
• Surrealists, like Magritte, Dali…
• Edward Hopper.
• Old newspaper satirical cartoons.
• Old fashion illustration, the sort of thing that was in old Vogue magazines.
• Film noir, 1960s kitchen sink cinema, David Lynch films.
• My Granddad was a tailor, and because of him I’ve always had an interest in suits. I don’t really like to draw men without making them wear a suit.
• Graphic novels by people like Daniel Clowes. I like to create pieces that look like they are one panel isolated from a graphic novel.
• Victorian clutter.
• Various songwriters, writers, poets, thinkers.
• History, and an affection for the culture on both sides of my heritage: English & Italian + A penchant for Italian American culture.
• There was a video game in the 90s called Grim Fandango, it had a very unique and beautiful style.
• Obsessed with boxing, and like to weave in references to that sport in a lot of my drawings.
What distinguishes your work from other artists?
Style wise I think I’ve developed something quite unique - A sort of combination of O.C.D organisation, and ‘romantic’ impulsivity. It’s a bit Jekyll & Hyde, but somehow the combination pulls together nicely.
My love for watercolour crayons is a bit unusual. I don’t really ever come across practicing artists who use them. I think I use them in quite a unique way in conjunction with the fine ink lines. People are usually surprised to find out what my medium is, assuming the colour was some sort of ink or even digital.
How has your work differed from when you started to now?
I learned how to use all the modern technology (Adobe etc.) when I started college. I don’t hate it or anything, and I see plenty of work that I love that was probably drawn on an iPad. Personally though, at some point during university, I started to really miss making work without using a computer, and started to pick up my watercolour crayons again. I have ended up with one style for which is digitally coloured. Another style for which is entirely done with my watercolour crayons and fine line pens. The two styles differ, but I think you can still see that the same pair of hands are responsible for both.
What do you love most about working in this industry?
I’ve never had a more passionate pursuit than simply drawing pictures. I’ve been doodling since before I could make a sentence. I can’t imagine backing away and letting anything else take over.
What don't you like about this industry?
I could do something about this myself, but I’m not much of a ‘networker’, and it obviously really helps to have that ground covered.
There’s also still the cliché of people who ask for things in a style you’ve never displayed, or ask for work at short notice for little return.
It’s probably been said a million times now, but with technology and the internet a lot of people have lost the sense of value in creative endeavours.
How has most of your opportunities come about?
I’ve had quite a few jobs from people seeing the gig posters I’ve made.
Social media has yielded some results. Instagram seems to have become the best option.
I have work on some portfolio websites, I forget I ever published there, and I’ll get an email through those occasionally.
Have you ever worked on a piece for a really long time and not been happy with it?
I’ve had some exhausting projects that didn’t inspire me very much, and I did personally notice the quality taper off as I started to become jaded, wanting it to end. In those cases the idea is to figure out how to hopefully make yourself enjoy it and still fulfil the brief. The outcome doesn’t suffer if you can do that.
The best compliment you have ever received about your work?
Someone I know noticed how I had started drawing so much again after life had gotten in the way a bit, and then I started getting decent opportunities. She’s a successful painter and decided to work towards going full time. She said I had inspired her to take that leap. It was actually much more meaningful than any nice comments about my work!
I plan on having a solo exhibition somewhere when I’ve created enough personal pieces. I’m challenging myself to have a ridiculous amount, so that the exhibition can look overwhelmingly “cluttered” like an old Victorian house, rather than a few pieces spaciously placed around clean white walls.