Folio illustration agency, established London 1976

In the Studio: Owen Davey

Leicester, UK

From a mixture of both traditional and digital media, Owen Davey creates warm and fun illustrations versatile enough to have been used in advertising, editorial, publishing and, more recently, app design.

In the Studio: Owen Davey 3
How do you feel being part of an agency represented as a freelance illustrator has helped with your work?

I think agencies are great for removing some of the stresses of being a freelance illustrator. They are essentially support networks that can help you price jobs, back your corner when a client is taking advantage, or that you can even talk to about your work. I think Folio also helps me secure larger clients, who can sometimes be scared to work with solo illustrators.

How do you feel your personal work feeds into your commissioned work?

To be honest, I don’t get a lot of time to do personal work, but whenever I get a very free brief, it gives me a chance to play with developing my style. For me, it is important to constantly try and improve my work, so these instances are invaluable.

Describe your working style in five words.

Stylised. Friendly. Retro. Colourful. Narrative.

Working within illustration and creativity can have its highs and lows. What are your three constraints and three motives to work during the day?

Motives: Bigger and better jobs. Money. I love illustrating.

Constraints: Differences of creative opinions with clients. The amount of hours in a day. Internet speed.

Who and what keeps you inspired?

Life and my contemporaries.

When for you does illustration have more power than words?

When it is used correctly. Describing a scene or a character can take pages and pages in a book or one concise image. Describing ‘Friday 23rd May, 2014’ would take half a book to explain with images. It’s all about understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your medium.

What would be your dream commission?

Millions of pounds to illustrate a book of cool stuff.

What three things are most valuable to you in your studio?

Internet – I could not do my job without it.

Computer – I could not do my job without it.

Paper & Pencil – I could not do my job effectively without them.

We’ve seen a transition in your working method to more of a vector-style technique. What were the reasons for this?

My shift towards more vector-style work is to add versatility and to allow for a more polished feel if clients require it. It can add a more corporate feel to my work, which I felt I initially lacked. I still use the more ‘homely’ approach at times, but it’s nice to expand my creativity to as many areas as I can.