Anyone could lose themselves looking at the incredibly visionary and hypnotic work of Silas Toball.
What you can see below is but a small fragment of Silas's production, an impressive body of work with explosions of colours, incredible details, and packed with mesmerising symbolism, iconography and allegories. Silas likes to think of himself as a visionary artist, and we couldn't think of a more befitting title for the amazing creative featured in this piece.
For this Member Spotlight, we are opening a window into the extensive production of Silas, thanks to the beautiful works you can see below.
How did you get into the industry?
I took my first steps in the late 80s on a Commodore Amiga trade show, passing around floppy disks with my work! It brought me my first paid gig in computer graphics.
Soon after I studied graphic design and became a freelancer right after that.
Where are you based now and who do you work for?
I am currently based in Taos, New Mexico. I am co-owner of Duirwaigh Studios since 2003.
If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?
I’d focus on the other big passion in my life, music composition!
Can you explain your creative process?
My creative process consists mainly of getting out of the way of the stream of inspiration. The challenge is to achieve the balance between using the brain to navigate through one’s tools and practical workflow while keeping the flow of inspiration pure and unobstructed by the mind which immediately wants to organize, judge and compartmentalize or plan ahead. The more we can employ a free flow without thinking too much, the more inspired the work can be.
An empty canvas or computer screen then can be very exciting. Throwing down large shapes, colors and objects and arranging them while asking “What do you want to become?” lets you be a spectator of creation, rather than trying to be in control and micro-manage every step.
Of course, this would be a little bit different when working for a client on a specific project where you have to apply a special focus, but the main principle stays the same.
How would you describe your style?
I’d like to call it a digital mixed media, as there are many techniques coming together such as photo manipulation, digital painting, photography, vector graphics, 3D, fractals… Most prominently it has been the digital collage.
Which individuals do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?
To be honest I do not “follow” a lot of people. I admire good work, and there is much out there that is truly marvelous. But most of the time I turn inward for inspiration more before I seek it outward. In the world of music I am much drawn by innovators like Gustav Mahler or Alexander Scriabin - who worked towards a gigantic music, dance and multimedia show in the Himalayas before he unexpectedly died - way too early.
If you had to pick one ideal client/employer, who would that be and why?
Someone with whom I can create synergies. Where vision, funding and creative goals melt into one mission.
How has technology affected the way you work?
My work was always closely tied to technology. Even though I started out painting and drawing manually (which I always would recommend doing, regardless).
In the beginning it was the newness of computer technology that was giving me the feeling of creating worlds within an all new dimension. Of course, it was very limiting at first, with 32 colors and a resolution of 320x256 pixels but gradually over the years this got easier and expansive; today we can create art that can be projected onto entire buildings or we move into and through it in VR.
What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?
I’ll have to admit that in order to answer this question I have been cheating. That’s because I married a true muse. Yes, a professional muse who’s mission is to inspire people. Artists, but also non-artists, as we are all life artists. That, a magical studio, always active imagination, humor, curiosity and good coffee.
What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?
There is much that I can be proud of but nothing is more valuable than having the opportunity to devote enough time to my own free work. That in itself is probably the most precious achievement.
How do you recharge away from the office?
Music - treated as a dedicated soul journey. Turn off your lights, put together a playlist or use an entire album (or more than one) and take a deep dive! Also, walks in nature are really refreshing.
What is one tip for other aspiring creatives looking for work?
Be true to yourself. Do what you have to do but to make a living but don’t sell yourself out completely. Learn to say no. Miss an opportunity to make money but that would have made you miserable. Put more focus on what you want than on what you don’t want. Be a good parent to yourself and forgive yourself. Live can be mean enough at times, you don’t need to be hard on yourself, too.
What is the one thing that you would change about the industry?
I would like to see more cooperation and less competition. Achieving synergies should be the highest goal. More honesty, less greed, more respect for online privacy and no more subscription software without the option for perpetual licenses.
Any websites, books or resources you would recommend?
I’d recommend these books:
“Nada Brahma: The World Is Sound: Music and the Landscape of Consciousness” by Joachim-Ernst Berendt,
“Doorways and Dreamfields - A True Fairy Tale” by Angi Sullins, an inspiring account of how ‘Once upon a time’ is really here and now.
and watch the TED Talk of Benjamin Zander - “The transformative power of classical music”, here you see an incredibly inspiring teacher in action.