Artist Focus: Peter O’Toole

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We recently caught up with the Huddersfield based illustrator Peter O’Toole, the artist behind our bespoke installation at our brand new size? Leeds store.


Firstly, if you would like to introduce yourself..

Hi, I’m Peter O’Toole. I’m a freelance Illustrator from Huddersfield in England.

When did you first get into illustration?

It’s something I’ve always done, but I started seeing a future in it when I was about 14 and got really into graffiti. I wasn’t a very good graffiti artist and my work just naturally evolved into what I do today, over the course of the last 14 years.

What’s the process from start to finish?

It depends on each job. For the recent artwork I did for size? Leeds, I was sent photos of store managers and asked to draw illustrations based on the photos. I’m 99.9% digital nowadays so I create a lot of my work in Photoshop. There is lots of layering involved, basically each shade of colour you see is a separate layer, so the files get pretty deep. Multiply that by 10 or however many managers I drew and start a new file laying everything out.

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What’s the most challenging aspect?

When drawing people, which is something I draw a lot, it’s always getting them to look like they do in real life. It’s a lot easier if you know the person personally as you can judge for yourself whether it looks like them or not. But when your drawing what is effectively strangers, it’s very hard as you’ve never met this person, you’re relying on them to tell you what they look like. That’s probably the most challenging aspect of it.

What inspires your work?

I’ve always had a soft spot for nostalgia. I like a lot of print design from specifically the 1950’s. I collect toys that I had as a child, I hoard stuff from second hand markets and now my studio looks like Aladdin’s cave, but its all stuff that inspires my work!

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Are you a fan of footwear yourself?

Yeah, a huge fan! I’ve been buying vintage adidas for about 10 years now.

What’s your favourite trainer and why?

For me, and I always go back to this when someone asks, It’s the adidas Mexicana. It was one of my first grails and I actually got hold of a pair a few years ago. I got them restored (cleaned/re-dyed) and I would have to be in dire straits to ever let them go! I was in the the adidas Archive in Herzo for a job earlier this year and got to check out a dead-stock pair from the late 70’s. Amazing.


Can you remember your first pair of trainers?

Not really sure on the model but I’m pretty sure they were Cica! Proper 90’s that.

Finally, what’s next for Peter O’Toole?

I’ve got a very exciting project for adidas dropping late October. Easily the biggest thing I’ve done to date. And next year something I’ve been working on for Clarks Originals is dropping too! In between times you can keep up to date on my work on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@peterotooleart).

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