Sydney artist Tori Rose Wright creates gorgeous illustrations of girls that are both sweet and strong (like Tori herself) which tug at my heart strings as I see a little bit of myself in each one jumping off the page at me: the adventurer, best friend, animal lover and more. We’ve become friends since I first wrote her to tell her how much I admired her work, I’ve been privileged to get to know the magical soul behind the art – when my mother passed away recently she sent me a big care package full of her creations to cheer me up, that’s the kind of caring, bighearted person Tori is. I hope you might love her work too. Welcome to Tori’s world…
BIANCA: You grew up in a very creative household where creativity was nurtured and art encouraged; what are some important or valuable things you’ve learned from growing up in a creative family? Have they influenced or inspired your views on art in anyway?
TORI ROSE WRIGHT: I think from growing up in such a creative household, I now realise how that exposure to all things creative really helped shape who I am! Different members of my family delved in everything from floristry to jewellery making to sewing and to photography. I think their varying kinds of creative hobbies really taught me that art isn’t just one thing. My dad and I used to take photos on black and white film, develop them ourselves and set up our own darkroom in our bathroom. We used to make stop motion using videos using McDonalds toys, creating our own little sets and dubbing the videos with our own voices. I am so lucky to have had such a creatively enriched childhood and that it set the foundations for me to go out and create on my own.
B: Why is art important to you?
TRW: There is nothing like creating something, it’s a feeling that’s so natural and electric! Art is important to me because nothing makes me feel so warm, looking down at something you’ve made with your own two hands is so rewarding. Having a sketchbook in your bag everywhere you go is the best security blanket. Art will always be one of the most important things to me and I don’t think I’ll ever have the words to completely explain why!
B: I adore your illustrative work. It’s so whimsical. You’ve created your own little world. How would you describe that world to others?
TRW: My world as a place is colourful, with a childlike curiosity and innocence. It rains sometimes but the sun always comes up again.
B: What of your personality can we see in your creations?
TRW: I have a very childlike demeanour about me and I think that can be seen in my drawings, especially in the aesthetics of the girls. They are quite young, and kind of sweet. A lot of my girls are self-portraits of parts of me or girls I want to be.
B: Your work features predominately images of females. Do you identify yourself as a feminist? What does it mean to you?
TRW: I love drawing my girls. I try to create my own standards of beauty by making my girls have different and larger body shapes or celebrating what some females find to be “flaws”. I think they’re all beautiful in their varying shapes and sizes and I think they’re teaching me to love my own “flaws. I love womyn, I believe in equality and there are many ideals I strongly relate to and identify with in feminism. One day I hope to proudly call myself a feminist, but only when I feel completely educated on the subject and can correctly represent the movement!
B: Do you find yourself revisiting certain themes in your work?
TRW: I think themes I will often go back to include femininity, nature, bodies and safety. I find myself very attracted to those themes. I also try to have a gentleness and innocence about the characters in my work and I think that’s something I revisit a lot.
B: What are some of your favourite colours to work with? Do any of them have a special significance to you? Do certain colours represent certain moods or feelings for you?
TRW: I love the gentle nature of pastel colours and I think that might be why I use them so frequently. Soft purples and pinks are just so sweet to me, I like the girls I draw to be sweet and strong, so I think those colours go nicely. However I am trying to break out of the comfort of pastels and push myself to use deeper colours and limit my colour palette. I’m still learning that everything in art doesn’t have to be realistic, colouring everything the way it’s “supposed” to look doesn’t always end in the best results, so restricting the colours used in each piece will hopefully better my art in the long run!
B: I read in your interview on the awesome site Soulchew that you love experimenting with different techniques and have recently been teaching yourself to use ink; what’s been one of your favourite things about using the ink medium? Also, what’s been one of the most frustrating?
TRW: I feel like a lot of things I touch with ink are almost instantly improved, as if it gives a drawing more character. I love the smoothness of lines and the ease of washes. The most frustrating thing is when you’re a beginner like me, what you’re trying to make may not end up the way you imagined it, however that can also be a good thing!
B: What are the challenges in the art you make?
TRW: At the beginning of a piece of work I can have a lot of difficulty getting across an emotion, aesthetic or message I want to convey, being an indecisive person isn’t entirely helpful either! Sometimes I’m very lucky and the drawing is already clear in my mind; pose, colours and all. However sometimes I’m not so lucky and have to really plan what it is I want to make. Half of my favourite work are happy accidents that started with simply doodling a face, the other half are carefully thought out and executed ideas!
B: You’ve made a zine, SULK; how did you first discover zines? What were your first impressions of them?
TRW: I remember my first encounter with art zines. Seeing the zines made by Maddy Young, an artist in Brisbane, inspired me so much! They were filled with her drawings and before that I had only ever seen zines with writing. I thought they were incredible and I have a few in my collection now and am expecting her newest zine in the mailbox. Her work introduced me to many more of my now favourite artists that also delve into zines and were a great inspiration for me to create SULK. I’m sitting on a few others ideas for zines that I hope to execute in the not-to-distant future!
B: You’ve recently been a part of The Scribble Project exhibition in Melbourne. Tell us about it.
TRW: Lisa Currie, the author of The Scribble Diary, curated The Scribble Project. It invites artists to fill out an interview sheet however they like, over 140 artists submitted and each sheet is completely different which I find amazing. I saw so many of my favourite artists submitting sheets and then Lisa asked if anyone else was interested in submitting I immediately sent an email her way, I am so happy she took a chance on me!
B: Do you have a mood board or inspiration wall in your art space? What would we find on it right now?
TRW: My walls are covered in posters of mountains at the moment, postcards from Europe, a photo of my friend hula hooping and a lot of art by Coreena Lewis I received in an art trade. They’re all personal and beautiful things. I also have an inspiration blog and its frequent posts lately involve glitter, bright and pastel colours, bedrooms, fluffy jumpers, pot plants, long skirts, big t-shirts and platform sandals.
B: What helps get you through a long day?
TRW: I find comedies and cartoons help me a lot with long days! I tend to live inside my head and can get stressed and overwhelmed quite easily. Watching an episode or two of 30 Rock or Arrested Development not only makes me feel better by simply laughing, but it takes me out of my own head for a bit which is great! I also love the imagination and comedy of Adventure Time and Sanjay and Craig and other shows like Orange is the New Black and Rupauls Drag Race.
B: Do you listen to music while you work? What would we find on your playlist?
TRW: My music taste fluctuates a lot especially with my mood. In amongst my secret guilty pleasure top 40 songs, most played whilst drawing would be Lorde, The White Stripes, The Arctic Monkeys, Bring Me The Horizon, Kanye West, Tyler The Creator and The Amity Affliction.
B: Lastly, what’s next for you?
TRW: I really never know what’s around the corner for me and that’s what makes things interesting! Ultimately I would love to just keep creating, to see how my work is progressing and really have a strong sense of my own personal style. I want to make a lot of content so I can eventually create my own website and I hope one day maybe even be in an exhibition! A solo show is just a thing of dreams to me but hopefully a reachable goal some day!
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