Owen Davey is an award-winning Illustrator, living & working in Leicester, UK. He has First Class BA(Hons) Degree in Illustration from Falmouth University. His work has been published in every continent except Antarctica, including picture books in UK, America, Australia, Germany, France, The Netherlands, Portugal, China, Sweden, Russia & South Korea. In his spare time, he writes and plays in a band called LOM, bakes cakes & quickly consumes them, practices yoga, plays nerdy computer games, reads books intended for teenagers or children, and watches a variety of films and HBO programmes.
BWB: Your books for Flying Eye have focussed on Monkeys and Sharks. Which did you enjoy researching more?
OD: I probably enjoyed researching monkeys more. Just. Only because there is a lot more information about them in the world. A lot of information on sharks isn't definite or is estimates or very new. We're only just starting to understand sharks because they basically live in an alien world to us. Both were equally fascinating though
BWB: Have you always been interested in animals?
OD: Oh yeah. I love animals. They're endlessly fascinating, from the smallest bug to the blue whale, they're ace. And all so different. And I love domestic animals too. Not sure why specifically. I think it's just that they're cool
BWB: Are there any animals you struggle to illustrate?
OD: Not struggle to illustrate necessarily, but some are definitely harder than others. Birds are always super easy for some reason. Mammals tend to be a bit harder. Fur can be a bit tricky and if there's no markings on an animal that can make it difficult to make the animal look cool and do its real-life counterpart justice. Cow's faces can be tough too. But yeah it's more about the simplification of things. I like to simplify the stuff I illustrate into simpler shapes, breaking down things into circles and squares and stuff. Doing this means that theoretically I could draw any animal.
BWB: What inspires your colour palettes?
OD: Research. I spend a lot of time playing with colour palettes and looking at other people's colour palettes to see what I like about them. I take old pieces I've done and change each of the colours used until I get a new colour palette. Then I play with that. It's a lot easier to see how the colours play off one another when you have a context for them rather than just a few blobs on a page or something. And it's amazing how changing one or two colours in a palette can completely alter the whole feel of a piece. It can take a long time to get a palette just right.
BWB: Can we expect another animal title from you in the near future?
OD: Oh yes. I'm working on one as we speak. I'm not sure I'm allowed to tell you what animal it is, but rest assured that they're super interesting. I'm neck deep in books about the subject at the moment. Next I'll need to figure out how best to draw them
A huge thank you to Owen for taking the time to answer my questions. Mad About Monkeys is available in glorious hardback from Flying Eye Books here. Owen's second book with Flying Eye, Smart About Sharks is also available and can be purchased here. To see more Owen's fantastic work go and visit his website here.