Owen Davey Is an illustrator based in England. His work is known for its geometric aesthetic and retro vibes. We had a chance to speak with Owen about his work thus far and the process that goes into crafting his images.
How would you describe your aesthetic/style?
I suppose my style is geometric and a bit retro. I love playing around with simplification. The idea of drawing a square with a triangle on top of it and the vast majority of people see a house. That’s cool. It looks nothing like a real house but people can recognize it anyway. I like to explore that a bit.
Where does the inspiration for your images come from?
Inspiration is usually found in the research. The world is pretty darn fascinating and the more I find out about history, nature, science, mythology or whatever, the more I become inspired. When I’m left to my own devices, I tend to just draw the stuff that intrigues me.
Could you walk us through the process of creating an illustration from start to finish?
I always start with research. Whether it’s to understand the subject matter, study how something looks, or get inspiration. Once I feel like I know what I’m doing, I begin generating ideas, usually in words and thumbnails. Once I have a vague idea, I play around with compositional thumbnails. Once I have a vague composition pinned down, I’ll work up a better sketch and bring it into Photoshop. I then come up with a rough, limited colour palette to work from. Then I work on top of the sketch using only the colours in the palette, creating many many shape layers until it looks about there. Then, I’ll have a fiddle with the palette to check if changing any of the colours helps the piece at all. Then I may add some scanned-in textures that I’ve produced to add a bit of depth.
Can you tell us a bit about the Russian Dolls image?
It was created for Cyrus magazine, a publication by Blake School, a client I’ve been working with for a year or two now. Each issue, they focus on a member of Blake’s alumni who has achieved something noteworthy in their area of expertise. The article in this issue was about a man who has just released a book about Rasputin, the infamous Russian holy man, who seemingly had massive amounts of influence with the Imperial Russian family of Tsar Nicholas II. There are a lot of larger than life stories surrounding this fascinating man of history and the book intends to unpack the legends and find the truth of the real man underneath it all. I used the Russian Doll (Matryoshka) concept to show the idea of finding the inner core of Rasputin.
What kind of tools are used in crafting your images?
Pencil, paper, the internet, and Photoshop.
Do you prefer to work on images one-by-one, or in series?
I love working in series. I enjoy quick one-off images, but you can’t beat the meaty subjects where you can really get your teeth into them and explore palettes, themes and context.