Hylton Warburton

Hylton Warburton is a born and bred 031 designer that’s stayed put and put out some mean work in the process. Enter Hylton’s world of monsters, creatures and whimsical characters after the jump.


DIY: Hi Hylton! Can you give us a quick rundown on who you are and where you see yourself fitting in the Durban scene?

Hylton: Hey DIY! I am a 26-year-old graphic designer and illustrator. I was born and raised here in Durban, and I’ve lived here my whole life. I studied at D.U.T. and did a Btech focusing on children’s book illustration. At the same time I started my Btech in 2006, I was approached by Modern Museum to work there, and I’ve been there ever since. Since I’ve been working I’ve been doing freelance illustration and the odd exhibition here and there.


More recently I did some design for American metal band, Norma Jean.


DIY: Going through your Flickr, would it be correct to say that a lot of your personal projects are focused on character design? Has a world of monsters and creatures always been something you wanted to create?

Hylton: Yeah, that’s true. It’s been more of a natural progression than a conscious design to take my illustration in that route, as I’ve always had a love for monsters, creatures and all things creepy and fun, and since as far back as I can remember I’ve been drawing characters like that. I’ve always related to that child-like fantasy world of creatures, and it’s always stayed with me.



DIY: What influences, outside of design, have shaped your illustration style?

Hylton: One of my biggest influences has been Tim Burton. I’ve always been a huge fan of his movies and the wonderful, dark and creepy characters in them, especially in his stop-motion work. Other filmmakers like Henry Selick and Pete Doctor have also been an influence for me. I also collect children’s books and am influenced by those authors/illustrators, like the late Maurice Sendak, and Oliver Jeffers. People and the different shapes and sizes they come in also fascinate me. That leads to inspiration for my characters.



DIY: You have been working at Modern Museum for a good 5 years now, bringing to life the look and aesthetics of many of Durban’s favourite eating establishments. Why do you think graphic design is so often overlooked and sidelined in restaurants and the dining experience?

Hylton:  I think it’s often overlooked from a budget perspective. A lot of restaurant owners aren’t prepared to spend the extra money, or simply can’t afford it. Others just don’t understand the value it can bring to the experience and atmosphere in a restaurant.



DIY: You’ve mentioned that your goal is to take your freelance business full-time and take your illustration to the next level. How far away are you from reaching that goal? What’s preventing you from taking the leap into the unknown?

Hylton: For me, it’s been about circumstances. I’ve had a lot going on over the past few years. I wanted to work for a few years in the agency and gain experience. Modern Museum has also been good to me over the years, so I’ve got loyalty to them. I also got married in July last year so that’s been my primary focus since then, so for a while I haven’t taken on a lot of after hours work. So far it hasn’t felt right to make that change. When it feels right for me, I’ll do it.



DIY: How has your view of the industry changed from the idealistic way it was described to you at Tech to what you know it to be now? Any advice for young and upcomings thinking about pursuing a career in design?

Hylton: Industry is very different to tech. You’re given hours to do a job that you’re given a month to do at tech. You often have to work on jobs that are uninspiring and boring, and can be treated like a pixelpusher sometimes. I was lucky in that I found a good agency to work for and I’ve learned a lot here. Like everyone else, I started at the bottom and have had to work my way up, but I’ve had good opportunities that have kept me interested and excited by design. Lately it’s been quite sad to see friends and designers I know stuck in jobs that they hate, putting out work that they’re not proud of because there isn’t a lot of work out there, and they need to pay the bills. I read an interesting quote the other day by Jessica Hische, “The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life”. I think that is so true. So my advice for young and upcomings is to figure out what you want to do as a designer and find a way to do it.



DIY: You are an active member on the Dribbble scene, a social platform for designers to upload progress shots of pieces they are working on. What do you find are the benefits of using it? Do people actively critique the process work uploaded, or is it really just another way for designers to throw the usual props, kudos and ‘I really like this!!!’ each others way?

Hylton: I think Dribbble can be useful. I try to use it to get constructive criticism, but as you say, most people just say “love it” it or whatever, but often people to leave helpful comments. It’s also a good tool for sparking interest in your work on the Internet and getting people to talk about it.



DIY: In your opinion, what past projects have you completed that stand out as the turning points of your career as a designer?

Hylton: I did a character for Nike and Kids Footlocker in America a few years ago. That was kind of a big deal for me, coz I was like “Wow, I can do this kind of work and get paid for it”.  I’ve also done some other character work for companies in the UK, which was cool. More recently I did some design for American metal band, Norma Jean. That was awesome for me because I’ve grown up listening to them as one of my favourite bands, and then to be commissioned to do some design for them?! I was stoked!


DIY: What goals do you have for 2012 and where can we expect to see your work?

Hylton: I’m going to be doing some work with iPad/iPhone apps for kids with a company in the UK, which is new territory for me, and is quite exciting. I’m also working on some design (tees and posters) for a few bands including Life In Your Way, another band that I’ve always loved. I’ve also done a tee design for a Mingo Lamberti range, which will be released sometime this year. Who knows, maybe I’ll be working on a children’s book too. I will also be re launching my website soon  www.hyltonwarburton.co.za so check that out!

Rad, thank you for your time!


10 Responses to “Hylton Warburton”
  1. Kool Kat says:

    Jizz in my pants.

  2. Alexander says:

    Wonderful characters by a wonderful character. Been awaiting this post and I was not disappointed.

  3. Jono says:

    About time, great work man. Wonderfully simple characters with a nice application of textures.

    @Hylton: Do you create your own textures or do you download them?

  4. Thanks guys. @Jono I sometimes make my own, but mostly find them on the net… There are a lot of free hi-res textures out there.

  5. Inquisitive says:

    To follow up on Jono’s question, what method do you use to integrate them into your work, any tips? Tutorials on the net never help! Using Multiply and Overlay always gives sloppy results, its annoying.

  6. @inquisitive I usually work in illustrator… and I work with Opacity Masks… I use greyscale textures in the opacity mask… Make sense? Maybe look up a tutorial on how to do that? Another way is to make a live-trace of the texture… but that is very system intensive and slows illustrator down, and makes it crash.

    I found some rad textures the other day at http://lostandtaken.com

    Hope that helps.

  7. Inquisitive says:

    Ah rad, ill look up how to use Opacity Masks, that should help immensely.
    Thanks man, appreciate the knowledge share.
    Will check out that link too.

  8. ano says:

    wonderful, Extremely well crafted but i just feel like Ive seen it all before, maybe its just the “internet style”?

  9. ROROROrory says:

    Thu Thu Thumbs up!

  10. Cherry Lisa says:

    Nicely done Hylt 🙂 First time I’m seeing it.

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