Drawing from personal experience, Rosi Tooth’s illustrations are sentimental, pink and extremely relevant
Rosi’s work comes in two parts: her ceramics are humorous and sweet, whereas her illustrations take on topics like mental health, women’s health, body image and self-awareness.
- Ayla Angelos
- 10 March 2020
Choosing what path to go down at university isn’t always easy. For Bristol-based illustrator and ceramicist Rosi Tooth, this was certainly the case when she pursued a fine art course at Oxford Brookes University, only to find that she didn’t know really what fine art was.
“Secretly, I wanted to be an illustrator, but I was always told the only jobs an illustrator could get were drawing for children’s books and that I probably wouldn’t be good enough,” she tells It’s Nice That. “So I moved to Oxford to peruse fine art, believing that it would give me the pick of the lot when it came to jobs – I couldn’t have been more wrong.”
After her first year, Rosi realised how niche the course could be. In 2017, she graduated with a performance art piece and moved back to London with the hope of becoming a graphic designer, before landing various unpaid internships for art roles and working at an art gallery in Oxford. “The job was uninspiring” and involved Rosi “standing in a room in silence” for the duration of the day – “awful for anyone’s mental health.” So, after three weeks of sick leave, she quit her job and moved to Bristol, where she was to get begin her first design job.
Feeling extremely thankful and lucky for this position, this was the moment when Rosi felt like her hobby had become her job. Yet creativity prevails, and she needed to find her own personal outlet for making work on her own terms. “Someone I was working with at the time encouraged me to start drawing and told me that not everything I did had to be good,” she says, “and that basically gave me the permission I needed.”
Graphic designer by day and illustrator by night, Rosi tends to work gruellingly long hours – but it’s all for the love of the craft. Beginning her day job in commercial and corporate design at 8:30 AM, she tends to work on her illustrations and ceramics at around 7:30 PM for a few hours. “A lot of people wonder how I keep on top of everything but I get an hour for lunch, which is when I tend to draw the most,” she explains. “I don’t ever really switch off, so if I have an idea I just jot it down on a sticky note and stick it to the side of my computer screen.” A long day, to say the least, but Rosi is constantly filled with excitement about returning home to work on her personal endeavours.
Rosi’s drawings take form in a consistent style – where pink ladies with blue hair take centre stage. “I think my best ideas and illustrations are about the way I feel and my experiences,” she says, before explaining how when she first picked up a pencil, she was struggling with body image. “I was so uncomfortable in my own skin and I had set such a high unattainable standard for myself that was making me really unhappy.” Thankfully, she’d stumbled across artist Amber Vittoria, who’s known for tackling topics like this. “Seeing illustrators tackle body image in such interesting ways was so inspiring to me, so I went away and drew lots of women in all the ways I’d previously seen as unattractive – I began to fall in love with the ‘flaws’ I was drawing.”
The epitome of Rosi’s craft can be seen in her recently finished series titled Things I’d Tell My Younger Self – what she refers to as her favourite set to date. Her own experiences of feeling like “I wish someone had told me this,” sparked frustration as well as the idea to jot it down into a visual narrative. “I posed the question to the people that follow me online and the response was really overwhelming,” she says. “So many people messaged me back with such lovely advice, it felt like such a waste to leave it in my inbox – I decided to draw as many as I could.” A favourite being Taking a break doesn’t mean that path is over for you forever, where a huge lady is laying down in a path among overgrown flowers and grass, “the path still exists even though she’s stopped.”
“I want my audience to be humoured, to feel connected and to feel inspired,” she concludes. “But it really does depend on the piece; the clay work is mainly humorous and sweet, whereas my illustrations tackle topics around mental health, women’s health, body image and self-awareness.” Sentimental and fuelled by her own experiences, we advise you all to take a long ponder at this portfolio – Rosi’s work will most likely connect with each and every one of its viewers in some way or another.
About the Author
Ayla is currently covering Jenny as It’s Nice That’s online editor. She has spent nearly a decade as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.