Illustrator and graffiti artist Tom HRVB: ‘I’m mostly interested in urban spaces’

Tom’s amazing character designs first caught our eye when we were on the lookout for talented artists to take part in the special Affinity Designer for iPad beta.

Tom is a freelance illustrator and graffiti artist based in Berlin. His passion for graffiti started in the 90s but he has since directed his attention to the composition of characters. Tom is also a member of ‘The Weird’—a crew of 10 special and highly talented artists spread all over Germany and Austria.

We love Tom’s quirky characters and how insanely diverse they are, so we were of course delighted when Tom agreed to take part in our special Affinity Designer for iPad beta.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m an illustrator and graffiti artist based in Berlin. I like summer, animals and plants. I actually also like winter, but only when it’s very cold and snowy. I love riding a bicycle.

Created in Affinity Designer for iPad by Tom HRVB.
Your designs are amazing! When did you first become interested in illustrating?

Instead of studying hard or paying attention at school, I preferred to just paint my exercise books. After a while, friends started asking me to draw flyers for little parties. My first works were completely analogue and black-and-white. I then started colouring illustrations at the computer, I was specifically fascinated by clean vector illustrations. Thus, I later got FreeHand and Illustrator. I spent many nights in front of the computer and trained my vector skills.

You have a style that is pretty easy to recognise. What are the factors that influence your work?

Anything that surrounds me comes into my work—atmospheres, ideas, shapes, colours and so on. For me, it’s great fun to break up reality and recompose it in a different way. Form the world as you like ;)

“Form the world as you like ;)”

How do you approach the colour palette in your designs?

Mostly I work with a reduced number of colours. I start with two colours and their shades, then other colours are added by instinct. With most jobs however, clients set a specific colour range.

You are also a graffiti artist. How did you begin doing graffiti?

At that time when I did my first illustrations at school, I also began doing graffiti. I was 14 years old. Together with a friend, we painted our first graffiti piece at the trainline somewhere in the east of Berlin. Gradually, I developed my graffiti skills and the paintings became bigger and more elaborate.

What is the best thing about creating art on the street?

The space! You can paint outdoors, and you can paint big.

What would you say has had the largest impact upon your particular style—both as a graffiti artist and an illustrator?

It’s mutual. Sometimes I try to implement things from my graffiti pieces in my illustrations, and sometimes it’s the other way around.

How is your personality reflected in your work?

Creative work always reflects the personality of the person who created it. Colours, shapes or the topic itself mostly emerge by instinct and relates to its own feeling of harmony. Therefore, the finished work is kind of an abstraction of the own ego.

“Creative work always reflects the personality of the person who created it. ”

How has your work evolved through the years?

The more you draw and paint, the more your style and skills evolve.

What are you focussed on right now, and what are you currently working on?

At the moment, I’m working on new ideas for graffiti pieces. It’s summer—the best time to paint outdoors.

A lot of your illustrations include characters. What is it that draws you to creating characters?

I’ve always been enthusiastic about characters and character design. That’s why I love using them in my work. Applying the same ideas to letters or simply abstract shapes, it becomes more difficult for the observer to understand what is actually happening in my paintings.

Do you always sketch your ideas, or do you let it flow?

It depends. Sometimes I have a detailed sketch, sometimes only a quick composition sketch and then other times I just let it flow.

You have 41k followers on Instagram. How did you create such a huge following?

I have no idea. With every post I get some more followers, but some of them only like my illustrations or animations, and others only like the graffiti stuff. So, maybe it’s because I do different things and they all look a bit stupid but funny.

You recently took part in our special Affinity Designer for iPad beta. What did you like most about using the app?

With this app, I can do full vector illustrations while sitting in the park in the sun :)

Tom HRVB creating in Affinity Designer for iPad.
Where’s your favourite location to visit and paint?

There are so many beautiful and exciting places in the world. I’m mostly interested in urban spaces. East Europe and South East Europe are actually at the top of my traveling list.

You can find more of Tom’s incredible work here.