Christi du Toit has been doing some awesome work lately, so we decided to put together an update to show it to you. Wanting to find out more about the 21 year old graphic artist and illustrator himself, we also asked Christi about his work, studies, and what he’s got planned for the future.
You’re currently studying graphic design at AAA School of Advertising. How is it going so far? Is it what you expected?
It is actually quite a lot different to what I expected. I initially thought we’d get a lot more opportunities to work on illustration-based assignments. That being said, I don’t regret my choice at all. Studying has opened a lot of doors for me, and exposed me to a whole different creative world that I didn’t know existed.
Why did you decide to study graphic design? Was there anything else you considered?
When I was young I was busy drawing something when one of my parents’ friends told me that I should be graphic designer ‘one day’. I guess it made quite an impact. To be completely honest, I’ve never really considered anything else. Whether or not I got into AAA wasn’t an issue to me at the time, all I knew was that I wanted to study graphic design. The great thing about it is that it’s a course that leaves you with so many different opportunities to choose from.
How old were you when you started to develop an interest in illustration?
Both my parents work in creative fields, so I was exposed to it from an early age. My dad’s an architect, and my mom’s an art teacher, so it was nice to be in the middle of functional and aesthetic creativity. Illustration is quite the same in the way that it communicates a message, like design (more often than not), and still has that visual appeal that fine art pieces have. Between the ages of 15 and 18 I was exposed to quite a lot of artwork that was done for bands, which showed me a whole new, alternative side of art and design which was really inspirational at the time and got me started.
How would you describe your style of illustration? How has this developed or changed from when you first started out?
I’m not exactly sure how to describe my style. My personal work tends to be a bit darker than my commissioned work, and my commissioned work a little bit more light hearted and quirky. I do push for a sense of innocence within it though. I guess what I’m going for is something unusual and almost comic/cartoon based. Every project is different, and that explanation doesn’t apply to everything I do at all. I often see something I like and try and incorporate it into my work, so it’s always evolving. The best way to understand my style would simply be to look at it and decide for yourself.
What influences your work?
My work is influenced by everything around me; unusual things, and usual things combined or used in an unusual way; or just daydreaming until an idea comes along. I love seeing work from other creatives – sometimes it’s just that motivation you get when you see what someone is capable of that makes you want to push yourself to get to a certain level. More than seeing other creatives’ final work, I really find a lot of inspiration in their working process. Seeing how people go from the initial idea to the final result is really interesting.
Aside from working on assignments and commissions, it seems as though a lot of the projects you do are self-initiated. How important is it to you to always be working on something?
Studying is pretty full-time and it doesn’t leave me with a lot to spare, but that doesn’t stop me from trying. I did some work before I started studying and wanted to carry on doing it, so during my first year I had a really full schedule trying to squeeze everything in. My crazy schedule left me feeling guilty when I got a chance to kick back and didn’t end up doing something productive, so I started doing quite a few personal projects on the side. It keeps me on my toes, so it’s quite important to me, but everyone needs a few breaks here and there.
What are your preferred mediums, and why?
For a long time my work was all drawn, scanned and edited, but I switched to using my Wacom tablet for pretty much everything. It just makes things a little easier without losing that nice ‘drawn’ look. I used the tablet to colour my drawings for a long while before the switch, so it was only a matter of time before it happened. Photoshop is my primary choice, but depending on the specifics of the work and style, I do use Illustrator as well. I still start everything on paper though, and move to digital as soon as I have a good idea of what I’m doing. I do like doing traditional pieces if I get a chance, it’s just refreshing to step away from the screen every now and again.
Besides illustration, graphic art and design, what do you spend your time doing?
When I get time off I try and do anything that’s not related to work, just to stop myself from getting too caught up in what I do. I like to just clear my mind, go out with my friends, catch up on some rest, you know…normal people things.
Lastly, what are your plans going forward?
I’ll have to see what happens after college. I might change my mind, but I’d really love to be part of a collective. I don’t really see myself sitting in an agency, but more sitting around a table with people you enjoy being around, that aren’t just colleagues. I spent my last holiday over at Studio Muti as a mini-internship. It was really reassuring to be around great people who are passionate about what they do, all work together as a single creative force, but are still nice enough to approach each other as good friends. I think it takes a lot of pressure off of the projects at hand.