If you travel to Singapore and encounter colourful murals with Asian motifs and elements, chances are they were created by Tobyato.
The Illustrator and visual artist is renowned for his bold and striking art, often inspired by traditional Chinese motifs and playful influences.
We recently spoke to Tobyato to better how his journey as a full-time street artist began and why is he in love with Asian motifs.
Hello! Thank you for having me for this interview and allowing me to share my story.
I always enjoyed drawing ever since I was a kid, but I had quite a late start to pursuing arts properly.
I only made the decision to pursue arts at 21 years old after studying science all the way until university. Because of my later start, I told myself I’d have to work extra hard to catch up to my peers, and I did freelance projects outside of school to “train” myself.
That led me to slowly draw bigger things for bigger projects and clients. From public walls to brand collaborations with ASICS and G-SHOCK etc, I just haven’t stopped since!
I am very inspired by my own Asian heritage, as I was exposed to it while growing up.
Aside from the visual appeal of the aesthetics of tradition, I strongly believe that creating art inspired by these motifs is one way to preserve the conversation of culture and tradition before it’s too late.
Aside from getting inspired by Asian motifs, I am also very inspired by nature and animals. So once in a while, I go on hikes around the different parks in Singapore to soak in nature to reset, and get inspired.
Personally, I really love how animals are represented in Asian motifs, in terms of the style and the meaning/concept behind each animal/creature. They often have their own unique symbolism and aren’t only there for visual aesthetics.
I think one thing that really worked for me thus far would be to be open to new things, new mediums, and meeting new people, and that will eventually lead to doing new projects as well.
And more importantly, understand and accept that this journey as a full-time artist will always be a work in progress, and it’s a constant state of figuring things out and adapting as we go along.
I have a few publicly accessible artworks/murals! There’s a shophouse mural along Duxton hill at 38 Tanjong Pagar road. I painted a blue mural on the floor of the somerset.
Cover image supplied by Tobyato.