Who is Tobi Fairley?
Tobi Fairley is an award-winning designer, businesswoman and artist from Little Rock, Arkansas. She has built two successful multi-seven-figure companies in which she helps fellow creatives to make money from their craft. On top of designing homes and teaching and coaching fellow designers, she has released her own collections of rugs, fabrics, paints, furniture and art.
We are proud to be working with Tobi Fairley. You can check out her various works here on this site.
Tobi Fairley’s passion for interior design started when she was young. As she stated in an interview with Style Blueprint: ‘I used to stay up late as a child moving around my bedroom furniture. My mom would come in and find a completely different room by morning’.
She didn’t realise that interior design was her calling straight away however. In fact, she initially studied a course in accounting, after being persuaded by her father that it would come in handy. It was only after finishing this degree that she decided to go back to school and study interior design to satisfy her creative side.
Topping off her education with an MBA in Management, Tobi was ready to enter the working world and snap up the job of her dreams. After attending interviews for several jobs paying only $17k a year, Tobi felt disillusioned. Rather than taking one of these low-pay jobs and giving in to the life of a ‘starving artist’, she decided to start her own interior design business and never looked back.
Tobi’s business was an immediate success. In its first nine months it made $375,000 and in its second year it made a whopping $700,000. However, even in this second year, Tobi was only bringing home $40,000 per year due to the large overheads.
Upon discovering that this was pretty standard in the interior design industry, Tobi set out to try to find a way to change this and make her work more profitable. She found that by getting creative she was able to solve this problem - she embraced the power of the internet and was one of the first designers to get heavily involved in blogging and social media. She also began putting a value on her expertise rather than simply trying to make a profit off of the products. While other interior designers were still charging by the hour, Tobi started charging flat rates - and was still able to win over business.
Tobi soon found that she was making a lot more money. Inspired by her own success, she began coaching other creatives - particularly creative businesswomen - on how they too could make money from a) using the power of technology b) valuing themselves and their work more.
As her business grew, Tobi began to focus more on coaching. She found a way to distance herself from the day-to-day admin of running a business - something that she felt was consuming all of her time - so that she could focus more on what she enjoyed. This also allowed her to spend more time with her family and as well as dedicating more time to honing her creative skills.
Tobi Fairley continued to use her creativity to find new avenues of revenue and to build her personal brand. She has scored herself media appearances on TV and features in major publications. She has also continued to pour more attention into the online side of her business - the internet has provided the perfect platform for selling her own original products. This includes her own textiles, her own furniture and her own artwork.
Tobi Fairley has three university degrees under her belt. She initially studied accounting, largely as a result of the wishes of her parents. After obtaining her accounting degree, she returned to college to study interior design. After obtaining a degree in interior design, she then pursued a MBA in management. These degrees would shape her career trajectory.
Her three degrees include:
- A Bachelor of Science in Accounting (University of Arkansas at Little Rock)
- A Bachelor of Science in Interior Design (University of Arkansas)
- A Master of Business Administration Degree in Management (University of Arkansas)
Tobi Fairley has become widely recognized within the interior design world for her pioneering business model and has become a major influencer. This has led her to win multiple awards over the course of her career. Some of her biggest achievements are listed below:
- Tobi Fairley was recognized as Entrepreneur of the Year at Walton College of Business in 2009.
- She was featured in Traditional Homes’ Top 20 Young Designers in 2019
- She has 12 ASID Gold Awards and 3 ASID Ovation Awards
- She is a member of the Design Bloggers Hall of Fame having won Best Overall Design Blog
Career as an Artist
Art and interior design can often go hand-in-hand. While interior design has certain functional considerations that art does not, much of it is also very visual. Using creative use of colors, textures and shapes, interior designers are able to create unique moods much like an artist with a canvas.
The use of artwork in interior design has long been of interest to Tobi. Many of her interiors feature striking uses of paintings. She has also published blog posts on how to use artwork in interior design such as this post on tips for hanging art.
Tobi has also shown a lot of support over the years for local and up-and-coming artists. She went so far as to set up her own gallery in Little Rock, where she supported 20 regional artists. This is on top of coaching creatives - including artists - on how to be more financially successful.
All of this has inspired Tobi to get more heavily involved in art over the years. In 2015, she decided to take the leap into the art world and she began selling her own original works via Soicher Marin.
As she states in this article by Furniture World: “I have been inspired by art for all of my interiors, and it is fantastic to now have a line of art that is inspired by my work in interior design.”
Tobi’s 70 piece Soicher Marin collection draws upon various inspirations ranging from figure drawings to abstract art. All of her works are made to order.
Mediums She Works In
Tobi Fairley favors acrylic and watercolor paint. Her more abstract works tend to use acrylic paint to create thicker and more textured lines, although she also uses watercolor within some of her abstract pieces to create a washed out effect.
Archival paper is used in many of Tobi’s works. She has also painted on canvas (in most cases, this archival canvas). These materials give her works a premium quality that ensures they do not fade with time.
Artisan handcrafted wood molding is used for the frames. This further adds to upmarket quality of her artwork.
Style and Themes
Much of Tobi’s work is inspired by classic design motifs. This is particularly the case with her geometric paintings that include squares and bullseye circles. These paintings are celebrations of simplicity.
Some of her other works draw inspiration from abstract art. They use freehand explosions of color that serve as a contrast to her geometric works. Such works allow Tobi to experiment more with texture and tone.
There are also some figure paintings in Tobi’s collection. These are kept fairly simple with a small range of colors and thick salient lines to give them a similarly dramatic feel to her geometric and abstract works.
Color is a big theme within her works. Tobi uses sparse combos of color to make her work stand out without allowing them to get too busy. In fact, some of her paintings contain only one color (although sometimes separated into various shades and tones).
Nature is a recurring theme within her works as well - this includes plants, clouds and animals. In her more abstract works, she uses a lot of earthy colors. This gives many of her paintings a sense of warmth.
America is also a theme within her work with some of her paintings relating to places across the country such as Mississippi, Rhode Island and the Ozarks (the latter clearly inspired by her home state of Arkansas). Maps are also incorporated into some of her works.
Examples of Her Work
A deep dive into some of Tobi Fairley’s works can give you a much better idea of the type of artist she is. While her works can be quite diverse, there are certain similarities between them that give them a unique style. Below are just a few examples of her works.
Modern Mosaic is an acrylic painting on canvas measuring 42.5” by 42.5”. It is an energetic and colorful abstract piece made up of bustling shapes that feel as if they’re jumping off the canvas. This painting showcases Tobi’s style at its busiest and most vibrant. It uses a greater range of colors than most of her abstract pieces but manages to balance them perfectly so that there is still a harmony to the piece (the dominant use of blue-gray holds it together). Modern Mosaic is currently for sale at $1,372.50.
Moments In Green
Moments In Green is a set of 6 giclee prints on archival paper. The rigid squares are very different to the very loose brushstrokes found in much of Tobi’s more abstract-based artwork, however the various green tones provide an earthy tranquility that softens the squares. It’s a great example of Tobi’s style at it’s most stripped-back. The set is currently for sale at $2995.
La Bonne Femme
La Bonne Femme is an acrylic figure painting on archival paper. It shows a glimpse of Tobi’s less abstract side, while still using the loose brush strokes of many of her abstract works. It also showcases Tobi’s love for minimal and earthy tones consisting largely of orange, yellow and black . La Bonne Femme is for sale at $641.25.
Ozark Sunset is a tribute of Tobi’s Arkansas roots. The large acrylic painting has a very powerful and dramatic feel to it, made up of large billowy dusk-tinged clouds. It’s one of the few paintings in her collection that could be called a ‘landscape’, although it still has a slightly abstract feel to its form and uses a small range of colors to achieve its effect. The painting is for sale at $2,531.25.
Chrysanth sees Tobi taking a break from color in exchange for black and white. The watercolor painting is of a chrysanthemum flower and is a clear example of the natural themes that are prominent within Tobi’s works. What makes this painting so interesting is the fact that Chrysanthemums are such colorful flowers and Tobi has deliberately chosen to use black and white as a quirky twist. The painting is currently on sale at $765.
Why should you buy one of Tobi Fairley’s works?
Tobi’s background in interior design has helped shape her paintings. Her works are designed to be hung on the walls of homes rather than galleries - they’re dramatic enough to be a focal point without completely dominating the room. Many of them use only a small range of colors that allows them to be easily matched to any surrounding color scheme, whether you’re looking to create a pop of contrasting color or blend in.
Tobi manages all this while keeping a signature style. Her works are bold and bright with a very textured feel to them. While mixing in figures, plants and animals, she maintains a certain level of abstraction. This allows paintings like Ozark Sunset to have both a dreamy and relatable feel - regardless of whether you’ve visited the Ozarks, you can connect to the mood of the artwork.
Her paintings are also very high quality in terms of both the techniques and the materials used.