Owen Gildersleeve is an incredibly meticulous artist based in London who specializes in handcrafted illustration and design. He created the cover for my novel Frankly In Love. He’s been featured all over the place, including one my favorite design blogs It’s Nice That. He’s also a nice people (nice people rule!) and has a grimy, smart two-man band named Modern Technology.
ME: What’s your process? Do you print, trace, and then cut? Or do you use a laser cutter?
OWEN: I always begin each project with rough pencil sketches, getting down the initial ideas and concepts. Then once a route has been chosen I will draw up the design digitally, refining the forms and working out the colour palette. Once this has been approved I will use the digital drawing as a template, printing out the linework onto sheets of colour paper, but backwards so that once it’s cut out you can flip the page over and not see the lines ;) My cutting is done by hand with a surgical grade scalpel – The same surgeons used to open up the human body!
Once everything is cut out I’ll assemble the artwork using pieces of card and foamcore to create the depth between the layers. I’ll then put the piece on a big table I have in my studio infront of a large window that let’s in lots of natural light and will photograph the work. The natural light gives really nice soft shadows and helps to retain the paper textures. Once that’s all shot I’ll then retouch and clean-up the image in Photoshop ready for final delivery. So as you can see there’s lots of different processes in place, but it’s nice to be able to see the project through from start to finish!
ME: What’s your studio like?
OWEN: I have a nice big and light studio in Dalston in East London with plenty of space for making and all my assistants.
ME: How did you get started with paper art?
OWEN: I’ve always been interested in fine art, especially ’tactile’ artists like Robert Rauschenberg, Anselm Kiefer and Cy Twombly who use a lot of different techniques and materials in their work. So when I went to study Graphic design at the University of Brighton I was immediately drawn to designers like Stefan Sagmeister and Alan Fletcher who used a lots of hands-on processes in their work. Then over time I started to find materials and techniques that I enjoyed working with to create my designs, that gave me more flexibility than others. This is how I came to working with paper, which is a very versatile medium whilst also being affordable, available in a nice range of colours and being an easy material to transfer my designs onto. Then it was a case of creating a few papercut artworks and people seeing those and asking me to do more work in that style and things took off from there.
ME: What other kind of art do you do besides paper?
OWEN: I’ve been playing the drums for 12 years, and have recently formed a new band called Modern Technology. Our debut EP confronts themes of political injustice, social anxiety, austerity and inequality and all profits from the release will be shared between homeless charity Shelter and mental-health charity Mind.
ME: Finally, have you read any good books lately? :)
Behind the scenes: the making of the book cover art for Frankly In Love
Lots more of Owen’s mesmerizing work can be seen on his official site.