Owen Davey graduated Falmouth in 2009. Since then he has been a professional freelance illustrator, receiving his first commission after his final show, he built his client list from there. He has worked in every sector of the illustration world, from games, apps and animations, to editorial, publishing and advertising. And has worked with clients including Google, Facebook, Sony, Lego and National Geographic.
Owen is also the lead illustrator on the multi-award winning app Two Dots and has produced many picture books over the years, most notably the non-fiction ‘About’ series with Flying Eye Books, which began with ‘Mad About Monkeys’ in 2015.
His books have been published in every continent except Antartica. Owen won Best of Show and two Silver Awards in the 3x3 Professional Show 2019. And has been nominated several times for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Award.
We caught up with Owen recently to talk about being an illustrator and getting involved with the ‘About’ series:
How did Mad About Monkeys come about?
I contacted the publishers Nobrow when I left uni because I loved what they were doing. I sent them various ideas and illustrations over the years to see if we could find a project to work on together but nothing quite panned out. One of the illustrations I had sent them was of a monkey (a Gelada to be precise) and when they were expanding into the children’s market with Flying Eye Books they remembered the monkey and wondered if I would be interested in doing a non-fiction book about them.
I'd actually done a non-fiction book about monkeys and apes in my second year at Falmouth, so was very up for the job. I'm now working on my 7th book in the series with them.
You were persistent with the publishers, what made you so determined?
Well I've always been determined to be an illustrator. It was my 'What do you want to be when you grow up' answer maybe 30 years ago now. I've never really deviated from that route. But the determination for working with Nobrow was that they produced beautiful books and that's what I wanted to do. Simple as that really.
How does it feel to have achieved success off the back of that determination?
I love being an Illustrator. Best job in the world in my opinion. I've had some luck along the way as well, but working hard has definitely been a big help. I've had a lot of days and weeks and months of long days and nights working to impossible client deadlines and I've never missed one deadline, which I'm very proud of.
What advice would you give to current students?
Work hard. Meet deadlines. Be nice to people. Be inclusive in your artworks. Look out for each other. Look out for yourself. Don't sell your soul. Make awesome stuff.