The A-List: Clubbed Thumbs draws zombies and dissected skin

July 05, 2014
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Hijacked presents The A-List, a series that delves into the ideas, influences and idiosyncrasies of arty folk.

Local creative Isaac Toth is obsessed with zombies, cigarette butts, dissected skin and rotting food. The result is gruesome yet weirdly enchanting illustrations in pen, pencil and paint under his illustration name, Clubbed Thumbs. Hijacked spoke to Isaac about how he turns old VHS cases or old food labels into cartoons, drawings, t-shirts, stickers and digitalised images.   

HJCKD:  When was the first time you saw an illustration and thought ‘hey, I want to do that’?

I was really into toy packaging as a kid. I loved the detail on the boxes of Transformers, Monster In My Pocket and Sega games. I always used to copy those kinds of drawings and thought I wanted to be an artist, but I guess at that age I thought the term ‘artist’ was more of the Dali type who just paints all day. You don’t really have those thoughts of needing a job to sustain you at that age. So I think a commercial illustrator was probably more of the job that I wanted, but didn’t know what the name of it was.

HJCKD: What was your first major illustration?

The first major work that comes to mind is the one I did of the cover of Michael Jackson’s Dangerous album. I was probably only six and I was really into Michael Jackson at the time – I pretty much still am! I see that as ‘major’ because, if you know that album cover, you would know the complexity and detail in it. So for that age, it was major for me.

HJCKD: Tell us about the process of coming up with a concept, sketching and drawing, and then making something digitalised?

I spend a lot of time on Tumblr and looking online for visuals that I find interesting. I think subconsciously ideas filter into my brain, but I don’t often have a solid idea or concept in my head. I usually just start sketching something and it evolves as I go. I start with lead pencil then, when I’m happy with it, I go over it with black felt tip pen. Once that is all done, I fill it with coloured markers. If I like a work enough or think it will translate well, from there I will scan it in and redraw it in Photoshop. I have a digital version for things like prints, t-shirts and stickers.
HJCKD: What’s with the fascination with zombies, dissected skin and creepy stuff?

Haha! It’s probably one of those interests that has stayed with me from when I was younger and into those kinds of packaging. It’s just interesting to me – all of the complexity and detail of the human body – and there is so much variety to it.  For example, If you look in a book at a cross-section diagram of a piece of skin, there are so many different colours and textures, and they stack nicely.
HJCKD: You’re often inspired by things like medical books. What’s your current muse for drawing illustrations?

Yeah, definitely. I love books on anatomy and also old illustrated guides like the Sears catalogues, where they would hand draw every product in the whole catalogue. I found this secondhand book not long ago which was an illustrated guide of all things related to horses and equestrian stuff. To me, there are so many ideas in a book like this – different ropes and knots, shapes and patterns that are all hand drawn.

I also really like vintage VHS covers and book covers from when they used to illustrate them. The colours and detail were way more interesting than a lot of the covers you see now. Also old food packaging or vintage food ads too – for some reason food keeps seeping into my drawings. It goes so well with flesh. Sounds like some Hannibal Lecter shit now that I think about it!
HJCKD: What’s your favourite colour and medium to draw with?

My favourite colour has always been green for some reason. I’m always drawn to it. Whenever I’m looking back through my Tumblr, I realize how much it pops up into a lot of the images that I’m drawn to.

I like permanent mediums. I use a lot of Copic markers over coloured pencil because it just soaks in to the paper and fills a space. And once it’s on there, it’s not coming off! I’ve also been painting with enamels a lot on glass. Again, I like how permanent it is, and using glass as a canvas is such a satisfying surface to paint on.

HJCKD: Who are your top 5 A-Listers of the creative world?

Francis Bacon – The greatest exhibition I’ve seen to date. His subject matter of meat, flesh and use of colour is one of a kind.
Nychos – If you find anatomy and graffiti interesting, you will appreciate his work.
Christian Rex Van Minnen – His portraits are the most unique, weird goodness going around.
John K – The creator of The Ren & Stimpy Show.
Ron English – Mashes cartoon and reality together perfectly. His painting technique and use of lighting are great.


You can check out Clubbed Thumb's website.