Many would say that the whole point of digital and graphic design is to help bring out the purpose or content of what it contains. But what can design offer if the purpose of an interface isn’t clear – or if the content is nonsense.
These are ideas explored by new works by Ori Toor: filed as Gibberish Print Design and Imaginary Print, Interfaces, And In-Between. The Israeli artist works in an entirely improvised fashion in Photoshop – working without roughs, sketches and references. Despite such restrictions, his works have a balanced composition that are packed with interesting detail but allow you to explore them leisurely pace to discover them all without feeling overwhelmed.
I caught up with Ori to discover what inspires him and his work.
Neil Bennett: Who or what are your biggest influences?
Ori Toor: "My mum is a retired carpet and textile designer, so I basically grew up in a carpet factory rolling around in wool. I think watching my mom design carpets using watercolours on paper inspired me at a young age.
"There were always art books around too and I really took to the surrealists – especially Magritte. Other than that [I’m inspired by] Hayao Miyazaki of course, nature, architecture and Adventure Time."
NB: Why do you prefer to work in an improvisational manner without roughs, sketches and references?
OT: "During the first year of art school – when I had absolutely no idea what to do and what design means – I started really investing time in my sketchbook. I decided I need to try to not think too much and not plan anything – because it made me really anxious.
"That sketchbook time was not only enjoyable but also proved to me that when improvising I make better things. I started adopting that approach with all my works – and eventually with animation as well."
NB: How do you maintain a sense of composition while improvising?
OT: "For a long time – years – I didn't tackle the issue of composition at all. I always made clusters of things in space. I felt like my process and composition don't comply with each other.
“[It’s] only in the last two years that I started treating composition as part of the ‘flow' of working. Instead of tying to plan a composition, I try to balance it out as I work. I keep drawing until it looks good enough to me."
NB: Do you at least allow yourself the luxury of Undo?
OT: "Of course – Undo is my friend. I think that because of all those years of drawing with a pen, without the ability to erase anything, I learned to really appreciate the ability to erase and Undo as a creative tool. So yeah, I use it. I just try not to abuse it (and lose my confidence)."
NB: What made you want to create these unconventional print and interface designs?
OT: "It's really interesting how even a bad image can be balanced and look ‘legitimate' with a little text besides it. I find it fascinating to use fake text and placeholders and lines as an aesthetic tool that's almost empty of content. It serves the images instead of the other way around.
"I also like meshing together the looks of print (and other old media) and digital interfaces – and UX design [in general]. Maybe it has to do with an early love of buttons."
NB: Are the characters in your Imaginary Print, Interfaces, And In-Between part of the interface – or are they using it?
OT: “Haha – I'm asking myself the same questions. I think the characters are definitely a part of the interface or perhaps the live there. It's their home.
"The purpose of the interfaces are in the eyes of the beholder. For me they're half Fidget Spinners and half audio consoles. They make sounds in my head but they lack real functionality."
For more of Ori's work, visit oritoor.com