CA: How did you get into modeling?
TO: For me, it evolved from my personal style I would say. I never thought about it really. I would be in school kicking it with my boys and someone would compliment on something I was wearing. Eventually, it turned into people stopping me on the street asking me for a picture. I guess it started to evolve from there.
CA: For how long have you been modeling?
TO: Since like High School, I would say 2012 is when I started discovering myself and the clothes I like. It became an extension of me. I don’t think about the things I have to get when it comes to clothing and fashion trends. I feel it is about what I feel comfortable wearing and people notice that. When you wear clothes you feel comfortable in, you have a certain level of this is me. The way you walk and the way you carry yourself, people notice that. I guess they like what they saw *laughs*.
CA: I see you work with a lot of new clothing lines when it comes to some of your shots. How do you make the decision to align yourself with a brand?
TO: I feel like it is mostly if I’m comfortable in the clothes and the message you put across so I can support it. I don’t really do it because this is what’s hot or something. Usually, I meet the designers and if I feel comfortable with the message and the clothes are fly, why not?
CA: How would you describe working with the photographer?
TO: It’s sick man. It’s sick. The amount of work these people put into their craft to hone it, I really appreciate it. It is all a process. It is not just standing in front of a len and snapping a picture. You have to get the right lighting and the right background. This is before any editing is being done at all. I really appreciate the time they put into it. It makes my job easier when you have a good photographer behind the lens.
CA: What is the process for preparing for a shoot/show or runway?
TO: I wouldn’t say I have a process. I like for things to flow naturally. I would check out the clothes beforehand and offer my creative input into it. We kind of just get together and do a collaborative effort. Most of the people I have worked were not opposed to new ideas. I just take the most natural route possible.
CA: Do you have a favorite shot/shoot? If you can’t choose one, what are the top 3 and why?
TO: My boy Justin Amoafo (IG – @justinamoafo) is my favorite person to do a shoot with. It is just fun. He has a natural eye for lighting, contrast, and backgrounds that really make the picture come out as evocative as possible. He will see something that I can’t see and sometimes I see something that he can’t see. We just bounce ideas off of each other. It is really easy to work with someone you are good friends with.
CA: What is fun and rewarding for you in regards to modeling?
TO: I’m excited by the process more than the end result. Most of the people I do work with, I am familiar with them and have met them on more than one occasion. It is more like a creative space where we get together and have fun with each other. At the same time, we’re also expressing ourselves in ways we can’t do in a regular day to day basis. It is more than just I’m the photographer and you are the model. It is like we are kicking it and it is what makes the process so much more fun.
CA: Outside of modeling, what are your interests?
TO: Lately, I have been starting to write a lot. Going to school in the city, I spend a fair amount of time traveling. I have a fascination with subways now. It is a completely different world down there. Sometimes I feel what is going on outside, you step into the subway and it has its own ambiance. I watch things around me and I’m inspired by people around me. Being down there has my mind flowing and there is a thousand thoughts running through. I try to get them all down.
CA: How do you describe your style?
TO: More nonchalant. I don’t try to force anything or do too much. A little bit of urban. It is expressive of how I’m feeling, it’s effortless. I try to pay attention to the details without putting too much thought into it.
CA: Which fashion magazines, websites, blogs, and catalogs do you visit most often?
TO: I look at GQ, Mr. Porter, and Street Etiquette. I glance at J Crew and other sites similar to that. I have an inclination towards more European styles.
CA: I hear you are a Kanye West fan. What do you love about Kanye?
TO: I think Kanye represents yourself. You kind of want to be him but you can’t be. He is going to be himself regardless. Everything he says is socially relevant. The College Dropout was about discussing the rigors of college. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy taking everything people were saying about him to create his best album in my opinion.
CA: What are your thoughts on art and who are you on the lookout for within that realm?
TO: I’m into art as whole but there are certain dudes I look for: George Condo, Piet Mondrian, and Mark Rothko. A lot of their work has a lot of color in it. It takes my mind into a different place where I want to figure out how they got down to that. I use that to influence the things that I write, thoughts that come to my head. I’m really into eclectic type of pieces. It all comes together in what I am trying to do. I believe life itself is like a blank canvas. As individuals, we make our own art. Taking in as much as you can, you have more to put out. From time to time, I hit up a gallery to see what is going on.
CA: What is your ethnicity?
CA: Who is your female celebrity crush (top three if you can’t choose one)?
TO: Jourdan Dunn. She is beautiful man. I think she landed a cover on Vogue. First black model to land a solo cover on that magazine in 12 years. She also did the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. And she is British.
CA: What do you want your work/portfolio to be remembered for?
TO: I just want it to be evocative. Whatever that is for you when you see a picture from a shoot that I have done. That is what I aim for. Art is all about self expression and in turn it is open to be depicted how you see fit. It is all in the eye of the beholder. I know what I think when I see it. I want to know what you think when you see it.
Follow Toby on his IG @pharosegold