Toby Leigh‘s illustrations are full of the self depreciation that the British are well known for. His obsession with odd characters, eccentric people, the Beano, Viz and the work of the godfather of alternative comics, Robert Crumb, have led him to create wonderful comics, sketches, illustrations and instructional manuals for the likes of The Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, Sony, FHM, Vodafone, Channel 4, Toyota, Nivea, L’Oreal, The Big Issue and Volkswagen.
His style while funny, quirky and mischievous is also very graphic, precise, clean and enlivened with vibrant blocks of colour which gives it an edge it otherwise wouldn’t. He deliberately leads you down a bright, safe, pristine path until you get to a point where you realise you’ve been taken for a ride.
The other interesting aspect about Mr. Leigh is that he has an alter – ego called Tobatron. While Leigh prefers using pencil and paper, Tobatron uses a broader range of design materials such as Illustrator and Photoshop and loves nothing better than collecting found objects and photographs to use as points of reference and eating chicken escalope sandwiches with salad, mayo and chilli sauce and drinking Lucozade.
For Leigh the inspiration for his work often comes from the smallest of things, in particular conversations as he explained in an interview with SpineTV:
One of the things I enjoy the most is listening to conversations. I get the train to work every morning and most days there’s some quite good conversations. I keep notes of little conversations and little things or people that I meet. I kind of always have little characters that I see around. I’m quite obsessed with the way people speak, the conversations they have, the things they wear, the mannerisms that people have and so I’m continually logging those.
Here’s what he has to say about his work:
I’ve worked as an illustrator for over 10 years. Growing up in London has given me an obsession with odd people and characters. I like listening to conversations on public transport and collecting found objects. I draw with a 0.3mm mechanical pencil and 0.38mm fine-liners from Muji. They only cost 80p. I also use Photoshop and Illustrator. I like printing my work out then scanning it back in, then working back into it. As a kid, I was an avid Beano reader until the day I discovered Viz. A couple of years later I saw the work of Robert Crumb and realised I’d finally found the master.
You can see both Toby Leigh’s and Tobatron’s work on Leigh’s website.