Hailing as a supremely talented illustrator and designer based out of London whose work ranges from editorial spreads to book covers to animations which incorporate strong techniques in hand-crafted typography and paper crafting, Owen Gildersleeve is far an few in between when it comes to showcasing talent.
With several accolades over the years and his undeniable rise in his field he definitely has a knack for the finer detailing in his work. I completely admire him and he is truly inspiring so I am more than pleased to share our interview with him here today. Enjoy!
Tell us a little about your background – what path led you to what you’re doing now?
Since an early age I wanted to be either a fine artist or a photographer. I really enjoyed the freedom attached with the two art forms, and often spent my lunchtimes painting large canvases, or in the darkrooms developing photos. I later realised that through graphic design and illustration, I could bring together both of these interests into my work.
My papercraft style developed after university. Initially I was working more with found objects and different tactile mediums to create big typographic pieces, but over time I started to expand my ideas beyond just type, bringing in imagery as well. I realised that paper could be a good medium for this, as it would still give my illustrations that tactile quality, but it’s also a very diverse medium and so it would allow me to have a lot of freedom in how I used and formed it.
What have been some favorite recent projects/clients/collaborations?
I have recently been fortunate enough to work with the guys over at Bloomsberg Businessweek. It’s a magazine that I really admire, both for their brilliant design sensibilities and fantastic journalism. Also the art director Maayan actually commissioned my first ever paper-cut illustration when she was over at I.D. Magazine (RIP) so it was exciting to be working together again.
What would be your dream creative project?
I was saying to my girlfriend the other day that I’d love to get involved in a film somehow. I think we’d just watched Moonrise Kingdom and I was feeling really excited and inspired. Maybe I could get involved in the prop making or set-design.
Also I’d really like to create a series of window displays for a big department store, such as Selfridges or Liberty. Something where people could really study the artwork, rather than just looking at a photographed image.
If you could collaborate with anyone in this world, dead or alive, who would it be?
Initially I think I’d pick one of my inspirations, such as Cy Twombly, Anselm Kiefer, or Thomas Demand. But then I find it can often be even more interesting collaborating with people from a different field. It would be great to work on a project with David Attenborough. I’m not sure what we’d do, but just spending some time with him would be a great experience.
Is there something you are currently working on, or are excited about starting that you can tell us about?
One of the things I’m really excited about at the moment is that I’ve recently signed to a new agency called Pekka. They’re based in Helsinki and have also just opened up a new office in Amsterdam, two territories that are quite new to me. Their roster is fully of insanely talented artists, and the guys who run the agency are really lovely, so I’m excited to be part of it.
If you had an extra hour each day what would you do with it?
Probably sleep! That’s something that I’m definitely lacking in at the moment.
What is the most intricate project you have completed to date and how long did it take?
That would probably be the illustration I created for the Royal Mail last year. It was for their 2011 Year Book to introduce a chapter on the William Morris stamp collection. I was given a passage of text to incorporate into the piece, and so decided to hand-cut all the letters out by hand. I then laid these out in the centre of the illustration, surrounding which was a range of floral imagery inspired by Morris’ patterns. A very fiddly and time-consuming task, but I was really pleased with the final result.
Who is your favorite new artist of 2011/2012?
He’s not a new artist by any means but I’m really loving the work of Jack Hudson at the moment. A very talented chap!
If your work had a soundtrack, what songs would be on it?
That’s a really tough one. I guess something bright and lively, such as Louis Jordan or Tune-Yards. Maybe with a few mellower moments too from James Blake and Big Bill Broonzy.
Have you and Ciara Phelan collaborated on anything together?
We keep talking about it but it never seems to happen. I think it’s because we spend so much time working that when we’re together it’s nice to try and leave work behind. Saying that we have talked about putting on an exhibition together, so I think that could be exciting if we get our acts together.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our viewers?
Actually yes! Many Hands, the online store that I’m part of (and which Ciara curates) are just about to launch a special London 2012 Olympic Games series. A bunch of our illustrators have created new pieces for it and we’ve also got some exciting special guest artists involved. Make sure to check out the site for more details: www.many-hands.co
Owen, thank you again for taking the time to do an interview with us! We are looking forward to more of your awesome work in the future. To our viewers, please share your thoughts and if you know of any amazingly talented paper artists please drop us a line!