The Dallavis Center is home to both the Thornhill Art Gallery and the classrooms where most Communication courses take place. Among the rooms in Dallasvis is one dedicated specifically to the Talon News Magazine. The Talon room is used as a newsroom for members to share ideas and work on stories. Dr. Snorgrass, the faculty advisor for the Talon, decided the room needed some sprucing up, so he contacted a recent alumni, Mr. Toby Cashell, to take on the job. The result was a graffiti wall that has Avila painted in the center and a variety of sketches surrounding it. I sat down with Toby to learn a little more about him and his project.
Q: When did you graduate?
|I sit down for an interview with Toby Cashell,|
the artist responsible for the new graffiti wall in the Talon Newsroom.
A: I graduated in spring of 2010.
Q: Where are you from? What brought you to Avila?
A: I grew up in Osceola, MO. Football brought me to Avila originally. I started off at receiver, but got moved to strong safety my last two years.
Q: What was your major here at Avila University?
A: I got a BFA (Bachelor in Fine Arts) with a concentration in Graphic Design. I didn’t declare my major until the end of my sophomore year because I wanted to avoid being among the statistic of students who change majors at least once throughout their college careers.
Q: Were you a member of the Talon?
A: Yes, I did quite a bit of work helping to edit the paper. I also wrote stories for a while when I had Dr. Snorgrass as a professor.
Q: Did you have a position on the Talon, or did you just help out as needed?
A: I worked more on an as-needed basis. My main focus was to help out with the layout. When I was in Snorgrass’ class, I not only wrote stories and poems, but did cartoons and illustrations from time to time, as well.
Q: What are you doing for work these days?
A: I recently got a job through my brother-in-law working in North Dakota in the oil fields. The job is set to take two years, so that’s how long I am signed on for. It’s not exactly my major, but it gives me a chance to learn something new, plus I still try to do some graphic design related stuff on the side.
Q: How did your major and being a member of the Talon prepare you for your career?
A: Obviously having a degree in graphic design doesn’t help out when it comes to welding in the oil fields. Nonetheless, it gave me the preparedness to be able to handle myself in a professional situation. It opened up doors for me and helped me to recognize opportunities.
Q: How did you get recruited for designing and completing the wall?
A: Dr. Snorgrass saw an assignment I made for one of Professor Esquibel’s classes in which we created a commercial for a record store. The piece I did for the assignment had a style similar to this, and that’s when he asked if I could create something to decorate this wall. Of course, that was over a year and a half ago, but what can I say, you can’t rush perfection.
Q: What was you inspiration for the art and color scheme of the wall?
A: There are a lot of different ways to think about how the inspiration came about. Music was an inspiration, in addition to all of the memories that came along with being at Avila for as long as I was. Dr. Snorgrass showed me some photos of a general style he wanted me to use, and I took it from there. Of course, the wall went through three major changes after I started painting, adding on an additional week or so to the estimated completion time. This version only took two hours to complete.
Q: Dr. Snorgrass mentioned you working on the project at 3 a.m., did you do it all in in one sitting, or did it take multiple days to complete?
A: The first day I came into work on the wall, not everyone knew what I was doing, so when I came in with a bag of spray paint they were a little skeptical. On top of that, there were a few times when I went to school here that I fumigated the halls because I was spray painting inside. Because of that, I was told I couldn’t come in during the day or during class hours, but instead I had to do my work after hours. I started coming in at 5 p.m. and working until I finished. Dr. Snorgrass was understanding of how artists work and things change, but he eventually put a deadline on the project. Everything came down to the last day and it required an all-nighter to finish, which I was used to from my college days, anyway.
Q: How long ago did you complete the project?
A: I finished it in late March.
|A sketch of Mr. Cashell's artwork in the making.|
Q: Did you complete the project the first time around, or did you have to paint over it?
A: It changed completely three different times. The image on the wall started off as Dr. Snorgrass blowing a bubble, which spelled out Avila within it. I scratched that concept because people continued to see it before it was finished, and I didn’t like the idea of that. I wanted to surprise everybody.
Q: How many hours did the project take in all?
A: It took over a week to complete. The last day required 10 hours of work to finish.
Q: Do you do any graffiti nowadays?
A: I used to in my younger, skater, graffiti days, but not so much anymore seeing as though it’s illegal and I try to avoid doing that sort of thing. Though, after I finished this wall, I was tempted to post it somewhere around town. It may still happen, we’ll see...
|The artist Toby Cashell with a preliminary version of his artwork.|
Q: Did you teach yourself, or how did you come about learning how to do graffiti?
A: When I was a freshman in high school, I had a buddy from Oregon move into town who was into tagging and graffiti. He got me started, and then it took off from there.
Q: Do you continue to be creative and find time for art still?
A: Yes, I have my sketchbook and I am trying to improve my portfolio with drawings and whatnot. I did work at a shop for about 6 months that creates t-shirts, so I still make designs for them from time to time. One of the projects they do is to sponsor fighters, so I create t-shirts and posters for that.