Artist Interview with Tobatron

15 April 2022

Tobatron honed his comedic style while growing up in the bustling city of London. He holds a distinctive outlook on the present-day world, drawing humour from its peculiarities and leveraging it to produce exceptional information graphics. His illustrations brilliantly capture the idiosyncrasies of contemporary existence with a clever blend of wit and irony. Given his remarkable artistic aptitude, he is a highly sought-after talent among art directors across various design disciplines. But when he's not busy working on a commission, you may find him plotting his next prank or chatting with us about what role humour plays in his craft. Keep scrolling to find out! 


How would you describe your style in 3 words?

Instructional, parody, humorous.

What has been your favourite project to date and why?

I recently collaborated with Ubisoft on their new game Far Cry 6 which was great fun. I’m used to clients telling me that my ideas are too harsh or jokes are too sinister for their ‘brand’ etc. But these modern computer games like Far Cry sort of exist in their own bubble, outside the confines of what’s deemed tasteful or respectable. This meant I had quite a lot of creative freedom.

What role does humour play in your work?

I’d say it’s integral. Creating that tension between the very straight diagrammatic style of the drawings, and the subversive nature of the content has a lot of potential for humour.

What’s the best April Fools prank you’ve played or participated in?

Years ago I was sharing a house with some mates, and we had some aggro going on with a crazy guy who lived next door. I wrote a very weird fake letter from the crazy neighbour to my housemate, requesting that he come over that evening to clear the air. There are many other elements to this story which I can’t share here…

How has the past year changed the way you work?

I spend much more time working from home which I never thought I could do.

What is your current workspace like?

I’ve got a studio in central London, and also a studio space at home. Here’s my home space.

What is the best and worst thing about being a freelance illustrator and why?

The best thing is flexibility. The worst thing is probably the stifled creativity when working for big brands etc.

Where do you find inspiration for your work? Who influences you?

Here’s a list of things that get the juices flowing: Robocop(1987), Jeremy Deller, Robert Crumb, 80s/90s Football, Christopher Hitchens, lost animal posters, Obvious Plant, Andy Kaufman, Viz, Drew Struzan, Seinfeld, Art Spiegelman, Ghanian film posters, graffiti on toilet doors.

How did you develop your signature diagrammatical style? How does it differ from when you first started out?

I began experimenting with parodying the crude illustrations you get on aeroplane safety cards when I was at university in the late 90s. They just seemed hilarious to me. I would painstakingly draw them by hand, now of course I use Adobe Illustrator etc. Over the years working professionally in this style, my work has become more organic looking, and less computer generated. I guess this sort of mirrors what is fashionable in society.

Looking forward to 2022, what and who would be your dream project or client?

Difficult to say really. Be nice to do some more collaborations with people who are subversive in some way.

What one thing do you wish you’d known when just starting out that you know now?

Commercial illustration: It’s not personal. It’s just business.

Having worked on various projects from advertising to editorial to packaging — which has been your favourite avenue and why?

Books are quite fun when you get a good one. And as I said earlier, it seems that computer games are good for pushing boundaries.

What one message do you hope people take away from your work?

“Is that a real diagram?”

Get inspired! Take a tour of Tobatron’s folio!

Previous story / Next story