TOSHY - A Storytelling Artist
Toshy has created his own personal story with art – seductive climaxes, quotes and facts from the lives of well-known and lesser known people of the world, combined with a technical, recognisable and brilliant display of imagery.
Toshy was born in Breda, The Netherlands in the 1970s. Encouraged early on by his family to pursue his talent, Toshy was taken to various museums in Paris and Amsterdam as a young boy. During this time, Toshy was inspired by icons such as Erwin Olaf, Keith Haring, Jeff Koons and Roy Lichtenstein. He soon became a talented pencil artist with a passion. In the 80s, Toshy was inspired by sexy visuals used in fashion and combined them with graphics and animations. He identified with the ‘smiley’ symbol. During these times, pop icon video clips with stars such as Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince and Depeche Mode instilled a strong vision in how creativity could be portrayed in the world. Halfway through the decade, the street art culture emerged.
Soon, graffiti was no longer seen as a nuisance, but rather, as a talent and was rightly recognised by the media. Today, graffiti is a legitimate artform practiced around the globe and sold at auctions and in galleries at often sky high prices.
At just 16 years of age, Toshy was spotted by the media and interviewed by diverse newspapers and magazines. But Toshy’s talent was not only street art – his work had grown and developed, further stimulated by his creative studies. Toshy took his talent to another level and began his own creative agency. Street art remained strong in his heart, and around late 2012, Toshy blended his graffiti skills with typography and photography to create a new style of art. His first canvas, “Sade”, triggered a sea of emotions from its client. Shortly afterwards, Toshy was warmly received at his first exposition in Amsterdam.
Toshy’s portraits, which he describes as “odes”, show the world the depths that lie within people as individuals. Toshy aims to trigger and inspire via his artwork. He sees the world as a podium to display art as a form of communication without limitations. Each canvas is personally signed with the motto “The world is your stage”.
Today, Toshy keeps busy with a never-ending stream of new projects, and recently launched a global campaign called “Love Now”, combining upbeat graphics about love with a “do good, be kind, help change the world” type of energy. “Love Now” includes street art, canvases, videos, installations, fashion and merchandising and is spreading quickly throughout top cities worldwide. He is also working on some corporate commission proposals to paint aircraft, luxury automobiles and motorcycles.
Toshy is writer, photographer, illustrator, painter – but above all, he is a storytelling artist. In the following interview, he lets us peek into his past and work processes.
COULD YOU TELL US A BIT MORE ABOUT THE IMPACT THAT THE 80S HAD ON YOU AS A TEENAGER?
As an 80s teenager, I was inspired by different urban cultures like hip hop, graffiti, breakdance and house. I am an explorer [and an] adopter of new things. The eighties brought me the “new” with music, fashion, computer games and art. As an explorer, I started with graffiti in the streets, followed later by commissioned graffiti art. I became influenced by the early beginning of acid house and remarkable pop stars like Madonna, Michael Jackson and Depeche Mode. I felt impressed by artists like Keith Haring and Jeff Koons, and at that time, I was completely addicted to the House culture, mainly because of the sound, but also because of the visuals and experiences.
EXPLAIN TO US WHAT YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS IS LIKE? HOW DO YOU CHOOSE SUBJECTS FOR YOUR WORKS?
I choose my subjects out of media trends, actual topics, opinions or odes to people I admire. With the subject in my mind, I start to research facts, figures and stories. With all this information, I mix them up to a new story with a message. With the energy I feel and the meaning of the words, I decide where it ends up. I do not even think about what typestyle to use, what colour and size or where to write it. It all just happens.
WHERE DO YOU FIND YOUR INSPIRATION?
How people behave, act and react in their life inspires me. The world of models, musicians, artists and actors intrigues me. It is dynamic and not always what it seems to be. For every story, there is another story. It inspires me to look further then the first impression and
create new stories. A good example is my iconic series‚ “Love me, Hate me” in which I show the world how famous people become icons for fans and haters without really
knowing them. In my visuals and colours, I find my inspiration in specific periods of fashion and music. Also, economics can inspire me. At the moment, a lot of people are in need of better financial times. That is why I often use the colour gold. It has the message, “Go for Gold!”
WHAT WOULD YOU DESCRIBE AS YOUR BIGGEST ARTISTIC ACHIEVEMENT?
I am really proud of the collaboration and results of a charity auction for “Free a girl”. I created a piece of artwork in collaboration with a famous Dutch singer/songwriter (Thé Lau) and celebrity photographer (William Rutten). The artwork is an ode to Thé Lau. He meant a lot to the Dutch music industry. Unfortunately, Thé Lau is sick and does not have long to live. The artwork yielded 12.000 euros for the charity.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PROJECT?
I would be extremely happy and proud when my 20 metre (65.6 feet) high three-dimensional storytelling sculpture will be realised. It would be amazing if it would become a famous landmark in a city like New York, Los Angeles or Miami. Actually, I am not a dreamer – I am working on getting things done.
FINALLY, WHAT IS THE ROLE OF ART FOR YOU?
With my art, I can communicate, inspire people and get them excited. I proclaim messages. I make people understand that there are possibilities always and everywhere to create your own stage and make it happen. My overall message is: “The world is your stage!”