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CHOPPING BLOCK: TOBE FONSECA

If you've cracked open an Urban Outfitters catalog lately, you probably already know that Beards are kind of a big deal right now. As a dirty old man, I remember a time when having excessive facial hair was looked down upon by both women and potential job employers. Back then, having a beard symbolized how much of a Salty Sea Captain / ZZ-Top Guitarist / Wandering Vagrant / Hasidic Rabbi you were.

These luscious locks of chin hair were not grown my friend, they were earned. Seeing a man with a beard meant that he had an important life story to tell. Unfortunately, beards have become more of a fashion accessory and less of a status symbol. But legend has it that one man in recent times earned his whiskers through performing noble deeds, rolling up the sleeves of his plaid shirt, and looking like an all around Boss... that man is Tobe Fonseca.

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POW: American television portrays Brazil as a magical land full of bikinis, beaches, and beautiful people. When I asked my Mom if this was accurate when she visited Rio de Janeiro, she said that it's completely different in person (but I think her opinion might be a little biased because she wants me to marry a nice Costa Rican girl), although I noticed when looking at your artist profile, you appear to be an incredibly handsome dude (but my opinion might be a little biased because we both have awesome beards).

As a Brazilian native with intimate knowledge of this wonderful country... is my Mom a big fat liar?

TOBE: LOL! I don't remember another interview that made me laugh so hard in the first question! Good start! Brazil is a really big country, so we have this side full of bikinis and "caipirinhas" and all the beach vibe but we're diverse. Here where I live there used to be tons of Germans and Italians imigrants so we are a bit different. Here we prefer beer, wine, reading books next to the fireplace (yes, I live in the south so It's really cold here in the winter, it even snows). So It's the main reason to have a beard! And - as we know - beards are awesome, everyone should grow one! Except my mom, and probably yours too. Well, you get it!

tf1MONDAY by Tobe Fonseca

POW: A great deal of your portfolio has a very strong musical theme, showcasing artistic representations of instruments, album covers, and musical notes. When illustrating, what type of music (or bands) would you say inspire you the most during your creative process?

TOBE: To be honest I'm not much eclectic, I don't hate any kind of music but I have my favorites and I stick to them like forever. Gavin DeGraw, Birdy, Gabrielle Aplin, Keane over and over. I have no problem in listening to some other artists but those, year after year, are still in my playlist.

tf2LISTENING TO MY SONG by Tobe Fonseca

POW: When visiting your profile on some well known Print On Demand sites, I noticed that even though you have several successful submissions, there's literally hundreds of designs you've submitted that didn't seem to resonate with voters (even though they're all really cool). How do you keep from getting discouraged when dealing with the submission process when there are times when you put in so much, and get back so little?

TOBE:  Because with time I learned to have a process. I create a design and I know that even if it's good, the site may not have space for it in that time, so I have to move to the next site. Sometimes it is hard when it gets an awesome score, but it doesn't get picked...But when you send a work for a site like this you have to understand the mechanics. I know about 50 sites that pick works like this, so... Persistence is the key.

tf3TOOTHED SABER TIGER by Tobe Fonseca

POW: As a freelance artist with a long list of impressive clients, what advice would you impart with younger Graphic Designer's apprehensive about taking the plunge into self-employment?

TOBE: Create. Show your work in every place you can, make contacts with other illustrators and create as much as you can to stay sharp. To be honest I'm still figuring it out but It's a good base.

tf4CHOICES by Tobe Fonseca

POW: What's up with all the bears and cats? Is it because your kind of furry yourself?

TOBE: Hahaha, probably! I have a cat called Tiger and he is always around so It may inspire me. My dad has an impressive beard so I think it's a family thing.

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To learn more about Tobe Fronseca and his sweet beard, visit his website at: http://cargocollective.com/tobefonseca

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