Toni Goffe

All Washed Up by Toni Goffe
Still Warm by Toni Goffe
All Mine by Toni Goffe
The acclaimed contemporary fine artist, Toni Goffe’s story is as colourful as they get and embraces a myriad of diverse instances and elements; everything from martial arts to humourous animal arts, England’s south coast to America’s East coast and from percussion to, obviously, painting in oils, acrylics and watercolours in his time. A time that is very much of the here and now as Goffe’s illustrations remain hugely popular with his adoring fans and serious art collectors alike. So, where did Goffe’s journey all start then? Hampshire as it happens, and Southampton’s College of Art specifically, where the aspiring artist (and double bass player) secured a National Diploma in Design back in the mid-1950s; having specialised in painting and illustration.

London, as is so very often does for artists off all currency, beckoned next for Goffe, as he headed up to the nation’s capital city to pursue a potential career as a freelance illustrator. Only at the same time Goffe wanted to further his insight and skillset in painting per se, and enrolled the help of many a private tutor as a means to this end during his extended stay in London. However, with bills needing paying, Goffe turned to the second fiddle to his creative bow and became a professional musician (playing bass) as part of the city’s jazz burgeoning jazz scene at the time, joining the top bands performing on the circuit at this time and that place.

In terms of Goffe’s freelance material and projects, and predominantly this turned out to be children’s literature, whereby he was charged with providing the illustrative accompaniment; although having said that, there were a number of occasion where Goffe also found himself penning the actual stories too. All of which would look good on the CV though, many would agree. At the start of the 1960s, Goffe – newly married to a fellow Southampton Art College old girl – returned to pastures not entirely anew in Hampshire, and together with his wife, Jill, set up The Pendulum Gallery in Selbourne. Although notably specialising in illustrative examples of natural history subject matter in the main, this bricks and mortar outlet also provided the perfect springboard for showcasing Goffe’s own art work; as well as that of other upcoming local artists, who he invited to exhibit there.

Building up his business and continuing to practise his art through the following couple of decades, it was in the direct aftermath of an encounter with celebrated marine artist, John Stobart in the early 1980s which signalled the next upheaval as such in Goffe’s career. With the latter having just established a presence in Boston with the opening of his new gallery, Stobart offered Goffe the opportunity to relocate to America’s eastern seaboard to take up the reigns of running said gallery, whilst also furthering his own talents in oil painting under the tutelage of Stobart himself. The lure proved too much for Goffe to ignore, and in 1982 he upped sticks and moved to Boston and became Director of The John Stobart Gallery, situated in the Lewis Wharf area of Boston. During this period Stateside, Goffe also managed to promote his own illustrative work to a greater audience by being part of countless exhibitions in Massachusetts between 1982 and 1985.

A few years later and Goffe longed to return to his native shores, and did so in 1985 along with his young family, where he re-established himself in no time at all as a freelance illustrator and painter. An eclectic mix of sea and landscapes shared centre stage with the humourous animal compositions which have come more to the fore in recent years, and found favour across the UK. What’s more, Goffe’s signature works have been successfully and commercial reproduced in both limited edition print and greetings card form, courtesy of a long-standing working relationship forged with one of the country’s best-known fine art publishers, Washington Green.

Universal acclaim was quick to follow once Goffe had collaborated with Washington Green, who opened up an entirely new and much wider audience for the artist’s work, and from which both parties still prosper today, as Goffe’s back catalogue expands still further. One of Goffe’s most popular and enduring creative series’ focuses its visual efforts on the cats which have arguably made Goffe a household name to many, and in particular his two pet cats, Mungo and Mingus. Industry recognition came in 1993, when Goffe received the Gold Medallion Book Award for his illustrations for the children's book, 'Just In Case You Ever Wonder'.

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