This week we sat down with the Huddersfield born illustrator to talk us through his recent work on the ‘Island Series’ and his on going relationship with adidas Originals.
Can you introduce yourself?
Hi, I'm Peter O'Toole and I'm a freelance illustrator.
When did you start illustrating and was it a talent from a young age?
I started drawing at about two years old and it was something I continued to do throughout my whole childhood. I started taking it a bit more seriously in high school and by the time I left I knew exactly what I wanted to do as my career and headed off to art college.
What was your first pair of adidas trainers and what are you wearing at the moment?
The first pair that I consciously went out to buy was probably either a pair of Superstars or Stan Smiths in the late 90's/early 00's but I cant remember which pair I bought first! As for what I'm currently wearing... its a bit of a rotation between the ZX 8000 Weave, ZX 500 Weave and the new Hawaii's!
How did your relationship with adidas Originals start?
I started doing adidas related artwork and posting it on Instagram. I did a poster of the City Series which I had been into since I began collecting about 12 years ago. Someone from adidas noticed me and asked me if I fancied going to their head office in Stockport for a chat, I obliged! No work was guarenteed but it soon started coming in and I have been working for them ever since 2012.
Tell us a little about the adidas Originals Island Series you’ve recently illustrated?
I had previously illustrated some of the recent City Serie's (Hamburg, Bern, Rouge and Stockholm) and adidas wanted something a little different for the Islands. I have always been a massive fan and I can't say I hadn't already gone over what I wanted to do even before they asked me! I wanted to base it on vintage postcards with the shoe as the focal point but also wanted it to work even if the shoes weren't on there! There are subtle hints of the three stripes in some of the backgrounds, for instance on the Hawaii the plane in the sky has three trails behind it and there's another nod on the upcoming Trinidad artwork too.
What’s your favourite adidas piece you’ve worked on?
I always enjoy working for adidas and always like to keep things fresh but my favorite has probably got to be the Hamburg artwork last March. It wasn't the first thing I had done for adidas but it was the first after I signed the contract with them and the whole campaign was just fantastic. My wife and I went up to the launch at End Clothing in newcastle and had a great night. I signed prints there and met some great people!
You were fortunate to design your own adidas Originals trainer, tell us about the Quotoole project.
Whilst I was trying to work with adidas in the UK, I had also set the ball rolling with adidas in Germany through my friend Quote, who had already released his version of the ZX 500. I wanted to do a different take on my City Series poster and illustrate some of his collection. He loved the idea and pitched it to adidas who then thought it would be nice to produce a book instead. Half way through the project they then asked us if we wanted to do a shoe to go along with the book and the 'Quotoole' was born!
If you were to design the adidas ‘Huddersfield’ what would you do?
Ive often wondered this. Blue and white might be a bit too obvious! I'd probably base it on a City Series model and figure the rest out later. By the way we should make this happen!