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January 20, 2021

Five Questions with Tina Touli: Creative Director & Graphic Communication Designer

After joining us at INVT21, Creative Burst and Evening Workshop Leader Tina Touli talks about finding creative inspiration in “objects”.

How can we train our eyes to really “see” everything around us? Tina Touli helped us with this at INVT21 when she led a mid-morning Creative Burst on “Inspiration from the Everyday” and expanded on the topic in “Blending the Physical & Digital World”, one of our Evening Workshops.

A London-based creative director, graphic communication designer, maker, speaker, and educator, Tina runs Tina Touli Design, her own multidisciplinary studio, and teaches at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. In 2017, Print Magazine named her one of the 15 “Best Young Designers in the World”, and her work has been presented at events and conferences including the Adobe MAX, the FITC Amsterdam, and the Bump Festival.

Tina loves experimenting and working on different projects that require diverse skills and techniques. Here are some more insights into her creative life.

What did 2020 bring into focus for you that you want to Re:Make, Re:Think, Re:Imagine, or Re:Design for 2021?

During 2020, things feel a bit different. Time seems to have stopped, even if it is still rolling. My body is stuck in a room, but my mind is still traveling around. I’m stepping back from my everyday routine, having an inner self-endoscopy. I’m exploring the actual value of life, learning how to appreciate simple everyday things that were taken for granted.

What is your relationship to the creative process?

For me, creativity is all about process. It is a journey of experimentation. Sometimes the strongest designs come from a simple concept and by trying things out, from experimenting and exploring the possibilities. I really enjoy interacting with the “objects” from the digital and the physical world, leaving them to lead the way, even if things work out differently from the initial thoughts. Once you interact and understand the strengths and weaknesses of the objects, they can become your tools or prototypes or even the design outcomes.

How or where do you find inspiration?

Anything around me that can stimulate any of my senses can be inspirational and an “object” for investigation. A hole on a paper, a glass of water, the ribbon that we use to wrap our presents, even our sketchbook as an object itself. There is so much inspiration in the physical world that we tend to ignore and could implement in our work.

What was one of your biggest creative challenges?

To make every single project that I am working on the best project that I have ever created.

When did you first realize you needed to be in a creative field?

I always loved communicating and expressing myself through any form of art. Since I was little, I was keen on dancing, drawing, and playing music. A friend of my parents had a piano, and whenever we were visiting her, I was always trying to play some kind of a melody. After I implored my parents for a while, they signed me up for piano lessons, and that led me to study music in high school. Soon, I realized I enjoyed playing the piano and the violin just for me and for expressing myself. However, it was not really my dream to become a musician. I was more thinking of becoming a mathematician, a physicist, or an architect. It was only a few months before graduating that I realized 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—I got into a Graphic Design course and fell in love with design and creativity.

Bonus Round: What’s on your desk?

I like it when it is “nice and clean” with very few objects on it. It really helps me focus on my work.