Positive/Negative; My Relationship with Photography

A good interview referring to my relationship with photography and a particular image that had a strong effect on Lookbooks.com.
http://lookbooks.com/news/positive-negative-tobie-giddio
Here’s the unedited version of the interview;

-How did you get started?

I have always drawn though it was when I was a teenager that I discovered fashion drawing in the magazines. I would copy Richard Avedon photographs with a No. 2 pencil from my Vogue magazines in the basement “studio”. I remember buying “Antonio’s Girls” from Rizzolli in the mail.  It was a big deal getting that package from there I remember.

-When did you realize that this was going to be your career?

I suppose I was formulating what I was going to do with my life during those high school years. I can remember knowing that I wanted to do the ads for Bergdorf Goodman. George Stavrinos used to do these elaborate and beautifully drawn ads that ran full page in Vogue every month. Bergdorf’s was one of my first clients out out of school. It was kind of a miracle and an affirmation that this was my path.

-Who or what inspires you?

Well so many things but I think I want to talk mainly about photography here. Fashion photography provides a vast amount of inspiration for me. I have been looking at it for practically my whole life. That is a lot of imagery passing and entering the subconscious. The mind stores what it likes and leaves the rest I find. There is much to “take” from a great fashion story. When it is right it is so strong. There is a cohesive element that runs through. The poses, the graphic quality that comes through with good lighting, color, line, an entire world is created… it all translates completely differently into drawing but it is all working through me when I draw.

-What gets you up in the morning?

My five year old daughter Praise.

-What’s your aesthetic and what do you try to capture/communicate in your work?

I am a maximalist and a minimalist simultaneously. I love the meeting point of restraint and full blown expression. It is the balancing act of this that I feel brings about something new. I want to communicate emotionally in the way that music does or in a way that just about anything extraordinary does.

-What’s your creative process?

There is quite a lot of restraint that keeps it all clean and precise. It is about a minimal amount of line to define the structure and the predominant movement of the figure. From that place I can expand in the ways of color and shape with collage. I work with translucent pantone adhesive sheets cut with a straight edge applied to my sumi ink drawings.

-What were some of your most memorable projects and why?

I very much enjoyed making drawings for the CFDA nominees and honorees. I was able to take their work and create an impression, a work of art as a gift from Swarovski for each one of the designers. Working with Apple Computer was a treat for sure and in the early days doing the Bergdorf Goodman weekly ads that ran in the Times was wonderful. Also perhaps having a drawing run in the first Harper’s Bazaar with Fabien Baron and Liz Tilberis in the early nineties. I love working with Tiffany & Co. as well. We always seem to come up with something super elegant and new. But really it is still the composing and experimenting in the studio that brings me a lot of joy and I know that there are some really incredible collaborations to come..

-How do you evolve and grow?

I have an abundance of great teachers in my life that continually help me to take things forward. My yoga teachers are art teachers for me these days. Making art is completely an internal process of self discovery and inquiry. There is not much separation of art and the rest of life. This course “Living in the Truth of the Present Moment” has supported my growth on all levels in a major way. Making art is so much about what is new for me, what is true. There always seems to be another level of that that I am moving towards. That Steve Jobs quote really resonates with me about “staying hungry”. I am hungry for truth and beauty always .

-Has technology and social media impacted your work?

Technology for sure, I am finally learning Illustrator and Photoshop. I will always do the drawings by hand in the studio but I love what happens in the finishing process on the computer. Also animation is very exciting to me. Not sure if social media has had much of an impact aside from being a great procrastinator when you need one.

-What is your positive/negative moment? This is a moment you had a with a photo/illustration that impacted your career. It can be yours or belong to someone else.

A few years ago I came across this photo by Paolo Roversi. (http://www.paoloroversi.com/) It struck me in a very direct way. It seemed to say. “This is where you are going, keep your eyes on this and do not deviate.” This picture embodies several realms in one moment. They are colliding in the most steady and precise way. We see the past, we see the future. She is very present here in this world while posessing an other worldly quality. There is supreme elegance, refined and sophisticated abstractions. I love everything about this picture.

-Did this moment teach you, inspire, etc…?

It is a reminder of what I am doing with drawing in a rather literal way. That is what photography is for me. It is the literal that feeds and informs the ethereal. There can’t be one without the other. It is my job to give life to the other side of the literal in the commercial realm. There is something entirely inclusive and universal in the abstract and ethereal. It contains pure essence or spirit. Everyone can meet there either consciously or not.

-Can you talk about the McQueen series? How were you able to capture the essence of the brand? How did the project come together?

The McQueen series was created soon after he passed. I felt compelled to go through his entire archive and to draw what was really asking to be drawn. His work had always had that affect on me so this is how I chose to tribute him. He was a great artist.

-What’s ahead?

I would say a time where a lot of what I have been visioning and formulating coming into fruition. I’m seeing new opportunities for fashion and other environments to embrace my drawings in a totally new way. I’m seeing my drawings and animation as the perfect compliment to photography which is the predominant medium of our time, bringing another element in order to attract and uplift a space or window or a computer screen. Expansion is always on the horizon.

Twinings Green Teas Packaging



I created a series of drawings with Bran Opus U.K. for Twinings’ specialty Green Teas packaging. I very much enjoyed working in the realm of “tastes”. The intention was to capture a visual expression of the experience of a burst of flavor coming through the various flavored green teas. I thought it was quite bold of them to go for such an abstract edge with the imagery. It’s exciting to see the work used in this way with such a classic brand as Twinings.