Some might imagine living in a tiny town, one void of the opportunities found in big cities, to stifle or hinder an artist’s career. For artist Tobe Fonseca, however, living amongst nature in his small Brazilian town has only propelled his work. Featuring bears, cats, and all sorts of nature-inspired elements, Tobe’s illustrations present a fresh, whimsical take on the world around us; a world that can easily seem a lifetime away for urban dwellers. Today, we’re excited to present to you Tobe’s Artist Shop, which is filled with an extensive collection of his work for sale as t-shirts, wall art, and phone cases. Read on to learn more about Tobe, and check out his awesome Artist Shop here!
Hi, Tobe! Welcome to Threadless Artist Shops. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi guys! Wow, it’s amazing being on the Threadless blog finally! Well, I’m a bearded guy that lives in a small city in the south of Brazil. I’m a freelance illustrator that loves peanut butter, cats, nature, and wants to learn German at some point of my life.
I understand your art is often based on nature. Why is nature such an important and influential part of your life?
I live in a really, really, really small town. We’re surrounded by nature; it wasn’t my choice. My dad has a small farm as well, so even on vacations I’ve been close to nature. My mom taught me to hug trees when I was little; she is very good with people and animals. I’m like nature; we are one. I’m lying; it’s just easier to draw trees, that’s all.
How do you manage to translate and capture the ideas and discoveries of nature into artwork?
I think my work is really diverse. I spend more time thinking than doing. I have an illustration of a butterfly with leaves as wings. It took like 20 minutes to get it done but it took me more than a week to conceptualize. I loved the concept so much that I needed it to be perfect. In the end, I figured out that the best way to accomplish that was to keep it simple.
What types of mediums do you typically work in as an artist, and why do you gravitate toward them?
I used to use anything I had available. I’ve never taken any
drawing courses, so it’s always just been about experimentation. If someone said “I’m using this pen” I would buy the damn pen and see what I could do with it. Thanks, Mathiole, for the Ecoline by the way! :D
Today I’m all about my Surface Pro 3; it’s simple, easy, and clean. I can carry it anywhere and it feels so much better than other tablets. I’m in love with the Surface, but it’s an open relationship… I’m waiting for emails.
There seems to be a strong presence of both bears and cats in your work. Why is this?
My first printed design on Threadless was a bear. I did that sketch while getting ready to go to work (yes, it was me!) and then I thought to myself, “I should send this to Threadless.” Smart move. My first printed design on Design By Humans, Camiseteria, and La Fraise were also bears, so I just stick with it. I also look like a bear, and at the time, had a cat. He passed away last year. I miss him a lot, he will be in my work forever.
What do you hope to achieve through your Threadless Artist Shop?
Threadless has helped me to become a full-time artist. I think with my shop it will be even better. I’ll be able to reach out to more people, and get to know more good friends! If you don’t have good friends from Threadless, you’re not using the site correctly. Exposure is always good, it means more opportunities, more friends, more cats, and more bears.
As an artist, what achievement are you most proud of to date?
Making a living off my work and being able to share it to the world, all from my small town. Thank you Threadless for that!
What art-related endeavors do you hope to explore in the future?
Oh gosh so many things! I’m thinking about creating my own store, and possibly doing an art internship in Canada. It’s hard because I have all these plans and I still have to take care of my daily work. I want to grow, but sometimes there’s just not enough time in the day. Should I hire someone? I could use a nap now.
Any other shout-outs?
Thanks Threadless for this amazing opportunity, and thanks to all the people, bears, and cats that support my work. Thanks to my mom for mom things and to the Academy for this Oscar.