Interview with Tina Touli

Posted by in Trend Reports on Mar/2022

Tina Touli is a London based creative director, multidisciplinary graphic communication designer, maker, speaker and educator (teaches at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London).
She works in a great variety of design fields, including print and digital design, with different clients, such as Adobe, Dell, HP, Ciroc Vodka, Fiorucci, Tate, Converse, Oppo, Kappa, Glo, Dropbox and Movement Festival.
She had the honour to be selected by Print Magazine as one of the 15 best young designers in the world, aged under 30 (2017). Her work has been featured in Communication Arts magazine, Guardian, Computer Arts magazine, Digital Arts magazine and Creative Review blog among others and design publications such as “Design{h}ers” by Viction:ary. She has been invited to present her work in various events and conferences all over the world, as for example at the Adobe MAX, the OFFF Festival, the FITC Amsterdam and the Typomania Festival.

In the recent panorama of visuals and motion, your strong experimentation of design processes aroused the attention of the design community. Your work is characterized by blending the analogic and the digital space and creating a recognizable and original design style. What has led you towards this “fluid space”? And where do you find inspiration for it?

Since I was very little I enjoyed experimenting in an analogue way, I was a “maker” continuously exploring and creating, from little sculptures to balloon animals and paintings. And even during the first years of my design studies I was creating almost everything by hand. I am inclined to believe that by exploring the possibilities of working between the physical and digital worlds we can discover unexplored areas of design and come up with unique solutions. Sometimes the strongest designs come from a simple concept and by trying things out. By interacting with the “objects” from the digital and the physical world, leaving them to lead the way, even if things evolve differently from the initial thoughts. Once you interact and understand the strengths and weaknesses of the “objects” they can become your tools or prototypes or even the design outcomes.

30 Years Adobe Illustrator_poster

Anything around us that can stimulate any of our senses can be inspirational. It does not have to be something extraordinary, it can be something very simple even from our immediate surroundings. A hole on a t-shirt, a wrong print, the foil paper that we wrap our food in, even the oil and water that we use in our everyday cooking, two materials that don’t blend together, can be the basis for unlimited creative outcomes.

As well as a designer, you are also an educator at Central Saint Martins, UAL. What do you think is the relationship between teaching and being a professional? Does it influence your work?

For me, teaching is a two-direction processes, you are sharing but at the same time you are receiving so much more back. It can be from just a feeling of satisfaction for helping others or a feeling of pride for an achievement, to a whole new idea that you came up with while experimenting along with the students.
You exchange thoughts and ideas, improve your communication skills and of course you get to understand better and deeper the subject you are teaching. It is a great opportunity to share processes and learnings in order to hopefully open conversations, inspire and motivate each other.

What are the 5 tips you would like to give to young designers and students?

— Even if you don’t know how to make it happen, get started with what you’ve got, and you will figure it out on your way.

There is no way to fail. Every good or bad decision you will make, “wrong” or “right” experimentation you will create, will help you move forward one way or another.

— The best work comes when you enjoy creating it. You just have to love, appreciate and get satisfaction from every little thing that you do. Create work that is done with passion and that will be remembered and hopefully inspire others.

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— Challenge yourself, experiment and explore new fields, new mediums. Have always as a goal to learn and create something different from last time.

— We usually try to find inspiration from other professionals. That is probably the most convenient source, but most likely it will lead us to an infinite loop. Don’t get camouflaged within someone else’s creative voice. Find your own sources of inspiration and define your own style, your own voice.

Sun Arches ARTWORK

Images Courtesy of Tina Touli

This is an extract from the 2022 Type Trends Lookbook, developed together with the educational team of Typecampus and including a series of 9 interviews with renowned designers and type experts who discuss the present and future of type design and the visual industry.