Original Interview: October 2017

Tina Touli

The wonderful Tina Touli, fills us in on what sparked her interest in design! From learning German calligraphy at a young age to now experimenting with all sorts of wonderful mediums. Tina loves to challenge herself and pushes herself to learn new things. She has recently created this amazing video for Adobe Create magazine—called caught in limbo! It definitely stopped us in our tracks 😀 

What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design?
I remember when I was a child, my German mother was teaching me how to read and write in German and bought me a book to learn calligraphy. I never really bothered to ask her why I was learning calligraphy at that point, just because I really enjoyed it. It was actually the most exciting part of my homework and I was always looking forward to it. I was much more interested in learning how each letter can be drawn in so many different and beautiful ways rather than actually learning the language. After so many years, I realised how big the impact was, how these little exercises enhanced my passion for typography.

I always loved communicating through any form of art. Since I was little I was keen on dancing, drawing, playing music, and others. I attended a music school, which kept me involved with all disciplines of art from architectural drawing to acting. Only few months before graduating I realised what I wanted to do in my life. When a friend told me about design, a field that would allow me to combine everything that I was passionate about, audio, motion, visuals, etc. I knew exactly where I belonged.

Tell us a bit about yourself and the studio that you work for.
I am Tina Touli, a London-based multidisciplinary graphic communication designer. I enjoy to build solid concepts and to constantly blend things from the physical and the digital world, working across different platforms and mediums.

I studied MA Communication Design  at Central Saint Martins and BA in Graphic Arts and Design at Technological Educational Institute of Athens. I worked on various studios such as Pearlfisher, Blast Design, CHK Design and others, while currently I work at Tina Touli Design, my private London based multidisciplinary studio.

I have been invited to present my work in different events, for instance, the Adobe Live Stream at OFFF Festival in Barcelona and the Adobe Creative Meet Up in London. My designs have been repeatedly awarded by associations like L’oreal Professionnel Paris, Hewlett Packard, Adobe, European Packaging Design Association, etc. In addition, my artwork has been published in various publications, such as the “Creative Packaging Structures” and the “Playful Graphics”.

What defines me is my consistency. I enjoy to continuously challenge myself, by experimenting and setting up new goals, never giving up on them. What motivates me and keeps me going is the excitement of something new. Learning and creating something different from the last time, something that you did not expect, this is what excites me the most.

Moreover, I like the potential of design. I am open minded about mediums, materials, processes, interactions and techniques. I usually start designing with a simple concept and create the strongest designs just by interacting with my “objects” from the physical and the digital world. Once you interact and understand the strengths and weaknesses of your “objects” they can become your tools or prototypes or even the outcome of your design.

Identity design for the Digital Maker Collective at Tate

Merge yourself with your work, a collaboration with Marta Yarza and Simona Bunardzhieva

Any passion projects you would like to share?
Tell us about any collaborations you have been working on.
We were a team of three designers, Marta Yarza, Simona Bunardzhieva, Tina Touli, who like to get their hands dirty.

The brief was to execute three images on the topic of creativity for the “passion projects” section of the “Made by humans” website. We had nearly unlimited freedom with the only limitation to show our passion.

As designers, we’ve learned that our work isn’t just something we do 9 to 5 – but rather it’s an extension of us. We live and breathe creativity and it’s only when we fully merge ourselves with our work, that we produce strong and unique outcomes. Much like the birds who fly with their wings, our work is a part of our own beings, bringing us to unknown destinations.

Merge yourself with your tools, your ideas, your work.

The first concept is about merging yourself with your tools, and through the final image we wanted to show how the human ideas can flow onto our tools and begin an existing of their own. We wanted to use an object, that would represent creativity, but in a very inclusive way. We bought a laptop, painted it with white acrylic paint and crossed our fingers that the marbling technique that we were planning to use would work.

Merge yourself with your ideas, and what a better way to keep your ideas than your favourite notebook? With this second image we wanted to communicate how we as creators are becoming one with our thoughts. In order to create a lot of impressive bubbles we came up with the great idea to use a giant balloon. We used a mixture of dish soap and water to make the bubbles more durable and elastic. One of our earlier failed experiments gave us the idea of the final shoot – ink drops, dispersing into the bubbles.

For the third and final image we wanted to honour the digital world. So we decided to use a low-res projection with a pixelated image on a messy physical surface. We really wanted to use a paper sculpture, but we didn’t know how to create one fast, cheap and easy. Luckily we came up with the idea to use receipt paper rolls, which we carefully arranged on three metal rails.

“Merge yourself with your tools,
your ideas, your work.”

Where do you think design is heading in the next five years and how will you adapt?
Design was and will always be about solving problems. The tools and the mediums of design will only change according to the new technologies and the new needs.

Lots of designers usually are concerned about having to keep learning a great variety of new tools and skills in order to succeed in their carrier.

From my point of view, it is undeniable helpful to have an elementary knowledge of as many tools as you can even if you never will be able to mastering all of them. This will allow you to work and collaborate with other creatives who have mastered the other tools and enhance the creativity and innovation of the team.

As Terry Gilliam said “Know how to do everyone’s job, but not as well as they do.”

It is important to keep challenging yourself and experiment with new mediums and techniques , but only concentrate on that which you enjoy the most. Evidently, motivation is what keep humans up to their toes.

Identity design for Made by humans, a collaboration with Ines Smudja

30 Years Adobe Illustrator poster, designed during the Graphic Design Adobe Live Stream

What has been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt along the way?
Most likely your classmates are going to be the people that you will be working with in the future. Be always open and share each others processes and learnings.

Always give a honest feedback. Being nice does not really help anyone to improve. But be also open to receive and accept a negative feedback. That is what will actually help you to push your boundaries and improve your work.

Experiment as much as you can. Be open minded about mediums and techniques. Sometimes you will discover the coolest things simply by trying and experimenting.

Keep challenging yourself. Set up small goals that are most likely to achieve in short periods of time and avoiding disappointment.

Enjoy, appreciate and receive satisfaction from every little thing that you do. The best work comes when you have fun making it. You just have to love what you are doing.

Who would be the “dream client” that you would do anything to work for?
I would be delighted having a big, famous name in my client list where we will working in projects on a regular basis.

Although, from my experience so far, usually the bigger clients are the less flexible for innovative design solutions. Smaller clients tend to be more welcome for creative ideas, which it can be the sparkle for new designs. However, this should not be treated as the Bible and there are of course exemptions.

For me there is no “dream client” or “dream project”. I am not waiting for it, it might not even come. Simply chase your dreams and treat every single project as your ‘dream one’.

Website: tinatouli.com
Instagram: @tinatouli
Behance: behance.net/tinatouli

Unknown Quantities Journal_a collaboration with Lina Al-Amoundi, Elif Gurbuz, Anna Lascsik, Micol Montesanti, Ines Smudja / Photography: Davide Di Theodoro

Artwork for the second summer collection of a swimwear brand

What is communication design?