Tel Aviv-based illustrator Ori Toor, who previously collaborated with us for World Mental Health day in 2017, has been keeping busy since we last chatted to him. From creating concept art for a holographic interface for a Sony short film to regular editorial work for The New York Times, he still starts his projects with the same stream of consciousness approach. “I always believed that editorial illustration is so accurate and deliberate, and what I do is the opposite. I decided to avoid editorial work completely for years,” Ori tells It’s Nice That, “but surprisingly, the industry has changed and I guess I’ve changed a bit as well.”
At a quick glance, his improvised, symbolically dense illustrations have not changed in style or theme. Upon closer inspection, however, it seems like his practice has steadily expanded. His illustrations now appear to have another dimensionality to them, with a certain imperceptible depth that tilts the scene in multiple directions. Ori now manages to pack even more ideas into his illustrations: alien glyphs, sun gods, rock people, and polygonal cats roam around the scenes. Tentacles, branches and arms snake across the boundaries of each segment in the image, linking one idea to the next.
“It’s more rigid than it sounds, though,” Ori says about his stream of consciousness practice. “I definitely second guess and edit and change everything a million times until I’m happy. I like to think about it as outsourcing my thought process to the canvas,” he adds. For him, the creation process is like a dull itch to scratch, something that he just has to do to feel at peace. “I consume TV, music, video games, Instagram, and books as much as everyone, so it feels good to do a little output and not just input,” he says.
Ori still tries to find time to do personal work between commissioned projects, and he tends to choose projects that are more open to his improvisational method. “During busy work periods like now, I really miss making personal work, so that’s also a motivation,” he says. For instance, a recent personal series Gibberish Tourism draws on plenty of science fiction symbols and decorative arts, non-descript humanoids and machine-like animals float across these fictional destinations on a fictional pilgrimage. “When I made this bunch of illustrations, I noticed that each one appears like it belongs to a different place, and even maybe a different time,” Ori explains.
“There were a bunch of projects this year that I’m proud of,” Ori concludes on 2019 so far. “There is one that’s really special to me. I made a limited edition poster for Black Dragon Press,” referring to a poster he made for Lars von Trier’s 2011 film Melancholia. “This movie drove me to deal with some deep personal issues and go back to therapy. Making this tribute was coming full circle for me,” he adds. The poster, a cinematic scene in cool hues in a more pared-back style (for Ori’s standards anyways) was released in an edition of 60.
For those of you in desperate need for a break from the taxing realities of your day to day lives, Ori’s curious illustrations serve as the perfect destination for a gibberish tour.