Christi du Toit crafts breathtaking work that marries the organic look of hand drawn art with the edge of digital illustration. From Cape Town, South Africa, Christi specializes in eye-catching illustration, artistic hand lettering, dynamic graphic design and trippy gifs.
What has your creative journey been like?
My journey has been great so far – it’s really a dream come true. Playing in bands and skateboarding as a teenager introduced me to the awesome artwork used for band shirts, gig posters and skateboard graphics which really grabbed my attention. This really flung me into a world where I practiced drawing as much as I could. After school I attended an advertising college where I received a degree in graphic design, while doing loads of smaller illustration projects on the side. This lead to me working for an illustration and motion design studio for a while until I felt like I had built up enough courage and experience to take the leap to work independently, which is what I’ve been doing up to this point.
WHO or WHAT inspires you?
Inspiration can really come from anywhere. I try and be conscious of that through daily life, always keeping an eye out for things that get the cogs turning. My personal work is usually more inspired by my interests as it’s what I surround myself with on a daily basis. Things such as music, movies, books can easily trigger some ideas. Client work is always dictated by the requirements of the brief, so the thought process of that can be much more practical and less abstract.
What does your daily routine look like?
I wake up fairly early, considering I work from my home studio. I stumble my way to the kitchen to forage for coffee. Once I have my first cup of coffee in I’m usually awake enough to pull myself together. My day usually starts with some admin tasks: replying to emails, checking my social media channels, scheduling and preparing my work for the day. My work times are fairly flexible, depending on how much needs to get done. I do take regular breaks (if I can) to stay fresh, in which I’ll play some guitar or distract myself to avoid burning out. I try to stop working after a certain time of the day. I love my work so much that I do this to avoid overdoing it. The last thing I want is for something I love to become bland. That being said, there are obviously the exceptions of tight deadlines and rushed projects from time to time.
What does your creative process look like?
I almost always start by jotting down some quick ideas with a pencil in my sketchbook. They’re never very detailed, but usually reflect the overall composition and direction for the project. My next step includes some refinement where I pick out the best ideas from the batch and spend a bit more time ironing out potential problem areas. The ‘winning’ idea is then chosen, sketched out neatly as a reference for the final piece. The final artwork is always almost done digitally, as it seems to be the standard these days. I have a huge appreciate for the perfectly imperfect look that hand drawn artwork has, so I often find myself going great lengths to make sure my final artwork still has that organic, natural characteristic.
What advice would you give to someone just getting started?
If you know that you aren’t passionate about this line of work, try something else. The design and illustration world has become incredibly saturated, and it really takes a lot of hard work to stand out. Put in the hours until you’re happy, then ask other people for honest criticism and learn from it.
Are there any books or websites you love?
Children’s books! They usually have imaginative and stylistic characteristics that you can’t find anywhere else. I love comic books as well. I am quite selective as I’m usually drawn in by the artwork rather than the story. Other than that, old art history books usually have some great content.
Name 3 of your favorite artists?
Jim Phillips had a massive impact on me. His skateboard and apparel graphics are still unmatched. Other than that, I love Alphonse Mucha’s iconic Art Nouveau pieces and the way that he can so perfectly embellish his art with such distinctive decorative elements. Lastly, every illustrator in South Africa that was in the generation before me because they paved the way and showed a young me that being an illustrator was a reachable goal in South Africa.