Owen Gent

With a painterly approach brimming with emotion, this Falmouth University graduate has developed an illustration style that mixes astute characterisation and a strong sense of place. 

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Your Blessed Shadow, Owen Gent, 2014

Does your approach differ between your illustration and design projects?

Approaching each brief in the best way possible for the client is really important. I think it’s best to have a method that can change to fit a project’s needs. I like to start with a good discussion with the client, in person if possible or if not over the phone. It pays to get all expectations, ideas and possible problems out in the open as soon as possible, so I know everyone's on the same page. After that I will always get straight into the research, normally starting with Google and manic notes, and moving slowly onto rough sketches and thumbnails. Luckily I live near the sea on a beautiful farm in Cornwall so there's plenty of opportunity to walk and think. I've found it's best not to push it, sometimes a good solution can take a couple of days, sometimes just a couple of minutes.    

What kind of briefs inspire you the most?

I relish any opportunity to bring my own interpretation to a project, and I'm most inspired by work where I have a lot of freedom. I always strive to create an emotional response in my work, and I find this is most effective when there is a narrative to be explored. Generally I'm more inspired by chances to explore colour, character, story and composition. 

Your characterisation is really strong. Do you prefer working on projects with a narrative?

Absolutely, I'm always compelled by the ability to create a mood or feeling in my work, and I naturally use people and their environments as a way of exploring this. On the other hand, the challenge of design-based work is trying to create a solution that is still my own, and this can be very satisfying when it happens.

Tell us a brief you’ve worked on recently that’s been particularly challenging.

Being a recent illustration graduate, it's been a real learning curve getting into and teaching myself graphic design, so I suppose that's been the biggest challenge for me recently. It's something that just naturally happened after leaving university and not something I'd really explored before.    

How would you like your practice to develop over the next year?

There are so many different aspects of my work that I would like to develop so it’s hard to say really. The most exciting thing that is happening personally and professionally for me is that I'm moving from the middle of rural Cornwall to the centre of Bristol, which is where a lot of my creative friends and peers have ended up. I think there's going to be many more collaborative projects happening and I'm really looking forward to exchanging some ideas with the Beginning Middle End Collective, which I co-founded during my final year at Falmouth University.