Toby Stokes

Managing & Technical Director

Time in the industry

17 years


BA Hons Design

Previous jobs

Designer at Mediumrare


Playing the piano

What do you do here at Pretty?

"A web designer's job is the semantic organisation and categorisation of information. There are many hidden perceptual structures as to how you can do this, so by the time you get to choose what colour it is, you’re already done. Although thats the only thing people want to discuss. In fact, quite often if people notice things about the design of a website, it's because it’s not working right yet.”

TS “Job titles are for vanity. But this is how an introduction conversation might go with someone who doesn’t know what I do…. I’m a designer. No, not posters. Websites. No, I don’t know why your email does that.”


Where did it all start?

TS “I studied design at uni because I thought it was more relevant of the real world than fine art. But I didn’t know what it was back then. I studied design by accident. I thought I might want to be an architect, but was quickly put off by the huge time lag between thinking, drawing, and then the visible result of that. I did a bit of everything and I noticed that computers were changing everything and that's where the interesting stuff was happening. Dom and I were mates at uni and then we set up Pretty to do more of that interesting stuff and make some money.”

DM “There was more to it than that!”

TS “When I was working for Mediumrare they handed over some small website work and said I could do it freelance. So I went back to where we used to work in Clink Street and hired a desk and kind of started freelancing by accident - I suppose I was handed a freelance career. In the meantime, you had come back from Denmark - and we’d talked about doing it for ourselves for a while and we thought how can we do this without exposing ourselves to risk?”

“I remember thinking to myself - well, I appear to be freelancing, there’s another desk, you can join me here.”

DM “We realised “maybe we should get on with it”. I remember thinking to myself - well, I appear to be freelancing, there’s another desk, you can join me here. It just carried on from there really.”

What are you known for professionally?

TS “Typography. Messing about with browsers. CSS/SASS. Turning people’s aims into actionable specifications. Googling. Actually this is a very important skill and often people don’t progress past the basics. But basically, if something has a definitive answer it will be available on the internet and if not there will be a long discussion about the differing opinions.”

DM "Anything else?”

TS “I think drawing is a really important part of the design process."

“The internet keeps changing the job. Every six months or so, something will come along which blows all the old ways out of the water and you have to learn again from scratch. Sometimes this is a pain in the ass if you’re in a hurry, but it’s good to keep learning.”

Any personal passions you want to share?

TS “Playing the piano badly. Meaning I enjoy playing the piano, badly. Not playing the piano badly. I might enjoy playing the piano better in the future, but there’s an awfully long way to go.”

Have you won any awards?

TS "My first ever proper website won me 'New Media Talent 1999' from Creative Review. I thought it would be the last time I ever needed to use this ridiculous HTML format, so I was basically trying to break it. My degree show project 'Biotypography' was featured in book which you can buy on Amazon and the fonts are available from t26.”

See also