Artist Owen Davey on Creativity, Collaborations and Working with Kids' Drawings

Artist Owen Davey on Creativity, Collaborations and Working with Kids' Drawings

Boriana Heim

From Mythological Monsters to Curious about Crocodiles… Artist Owen Davey has won several awards for his brilliant picture books, which have been translated in over 25 languages. Although he has produced around 20 picture books, Owen also works as an artist/illustrator for brands like Google, WWF, Facebook, Sony, Lego and National Geographic. To celebrate his collab with Indonesian school kids for our brand new Face This drop, we sat down with Owen to talk about creativity, collaborations and working with our childrens drawings: ‘It’s pretty inspiring. I felt like I was getting a glimpse into their minds.’

Face This: Can you tell us something about your cultural background? Where did you grow up? Did you always like to draw? 

Owen Davey: I grew up in a little village near Brighton on the south coast of England. I’ve always drawn. It has been my default setting my entire life. My family was always very sporty and I was the arty one that just sat and sketched instead.

Face This: Is there one drawing that you can recall from your childhood? What was it about? 

Owen Davey: I remember drawing pictures of my dogs and of family friends and stuff, but the things that always grabbed my attention the most were fantasy artworks from computer games. Lots of my family lived in Cornwall, (a gorgeous part of England with big sandy beaches and windy clifftops) and when we’d visit them for a holiday, I’d go to the local Spar and buy computer game magazines (for consoles I didn’t own) and just paw through, copying all the awesome characters and monsters. I’d then draw my own things from my imagination, or sketch the beach and surfers.

Face This: Are there specific moments in your life that made you decide to become an artist?

Owen Davey: Nope. I’ve never really entertained the idea of being anything else.

Art by Owen Davey

Face This: What do you like most about being an artist?

Owen Davey: The creativity 

Face This: What is the biggest challenge for you, being an artist?

Owen Davey: Running a business

Face This: As an artist, do you have any dreams? Are there some goals you would like to achieve? Is there something you’re building up for?

Owen Davey: I’m currently building a Kickstarter campaign for a fantasy card game that I’ve been developing for the past 3 years. It’s been such a labour of love, but it marries several things I love: illustration, board games, being joyously nerdy, creating narratives, and fantasy ideas.  

Face This: Pablo Picasso once said: ‘Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up’. How do you remain an artist? And do you have tips for non-artists to cultivate their inner child?

Owen Davey: I think the biggest thing is to follow your own curiosities. Kids are interested in everything, especially stuff that adults often think of as mundane and dull. But if you keep asking questions and learning and exploring, that goes a long way to cultivating your creativity.

Face This: You designed an artwork by using some of our Indonesian kids’ drawings. With the proceeds of your artwork, we will be able to provide the kids you’ve collabed with a playground. How important is playfulness for you as an artist? 

Owen Davey: I think I’m always trying to explore slightly different things and play around with how I can approach a project or idea. 

The Owen Davey x Face This collab is available on tees and a sweater. Pic by Thom Schrama / 4eyes

 Face This: When we reached out to you, what made you want to join?

Owen Davey: It’s a good cause and a massive challenge. I love the idea of the kids being the spark that helps fund stuff for themselves; that their ideas and needs are both being acknowledged and valued. And then on a personal note, I find collaborations very hard and thought it would be good to step out of my comfort zone.

Face This: When you received the drawings, what was your first reaction? What did you see in them? Can you describe them a bit for us?

Owen Davey: They’re just really fun. I have two young kids and love watching how they stylise stuff. That thing of just filling a page with a bunch of stuff that you find fun, and not worrying too much about the lines or the shapes; just creating. It’s pretty inspiring. I felt like I was getting a glimpse into their minds.

Face This: Which drawings did you use to create your artwork with? And why did you pick these? 

Owen Davey: Honestly, I took stuff from loads of different artworks. I tried to find little drawings that seemed the most closely related to the work I tend to create, and smashed them all into one drawing. 

Face This: Can you tell us something about how you have experienced this collaboration?

Owen Davey: It was SO hard! Trying to retain the vibe or the original drawings and the essence of how they looked, whilst trying to put my own spin on them. That’s a hard thing to do. I struggled with it a lot. 

Face This: To conclude, is there something you would like to say to the kids who made the drawings you’ve worked with?

Owen Davey: Keep creating. Even if it seems like it doesn’t mean anything or if you don’t do a career that involves drawing, the creativity in drawing can be an amazing link between your mind and your body. And how cool is it that you can just draw something into existence?! You can pick up a pen, and 5 minutes later, you have a picture of a bird. That’s pretty special.

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