Boasting a diverse illustrative portfolio with careful attention to form and color, Leicestershire, UK's Owen Davey is easily one of my favorite illustrators working right now. Few people can say so much with so little—simple geometry stands in for complex anatomy in creating some of the most interesting abstractions I've seen in character work.
Owen's colors are, equally, a breath of fresh air. A designer after my own heart, without using true blacks or whites, the color grading embodies rich, tonal worlds ranging from confined 3-color environments to vibrant unrestrained palettes. There's an intrinsic understanding of warm and cool palettes that takes a primary role in setting the mood. I love Owen's attention to not just the characters that inhabit these worlds, but in just as much detail, the atmospheres themselves; a fine balance indeed.
Unsurprisingly, seeing his illustration in application with tangible goods and packaging is a real treat for the ol' peepers.
What's more, lighting isn't confined to geometric casting lines, but can range from piece to piece. Sometimes it's a hard lined geometric cut, other times, it's more dynamic—unafraid to call in the support of a soft brush or gradient light.
Grumble Grumble Link stands out as a particularly effective balance of both. Navi's soft light remains a dichotomous focal point which is further played out as a hard light on Link.
It's difficult to classify his work as purely geometric as there's an organic flow to his shapes and line work that will make any grid-based illustrator blush. For me, leaving the familiarity of working within the grid's aid has long been an internal conflict.To see someone embracing free-form illustration so successfully is an incredibly inspiring portfolio, to be sure.
The content of Owen's work is no less attractive. There's a narrative-driven approach to his pieces that is just as effective at storytelling as it is at enchanting aesthetics. This is the kind of work that makes you want to stop and ask what happened just moments before this particular image was captured in the character's life. What happens after?
Luckily for us, Owen does indeed do book as well! His upcoming third book Laika, based on the true story of a stray living in Moscow chosen to be the first ever animal launched into orbit, is available for pre-order. High fives all around!
You're welcome in advance.