Owen Davey is a freelance illustrator based in Leicester, England. Inspired by mid-century design, he uses a palette of warm, muted colours to create work which is both contemporary and nostalgic. He has worked with clients from across the globe and is behind the Flying Eye best-sellers, Mad About Monkeys and Smart About Sharks.
Davey studied Illustration at Falmouth University in Cornwall. He got his first professional commission in 2009, a week before he graduated. An ex Falmouth student and art director for The Guardian’s Weekend magazine liked Davey’s work and decided to give him a shot.
Since then, Davey has been in high demand illustrating for editorials, animations, book covers, advertising and branding. His long list of clients includes Facebook, Microsoft, Smithsonian, Sony, Lego and the New York Times. He is the primary illustrator for two hugely successful apps, The Robot Factory and TwoDots. This year he worked with Google to bring to life a new Calendar feature called Google Goals.
In addition to client work, Davey has illustrated six children’s books; Foxly’s Feast (2010, Templar Books), Knight Night (2011, Templar Books), Laika: The Astronaut (2014, Templar Books), Bird Search, Mad About Monkeys (2015, Flying Eye Books), Smart About Sharks (2016, Flying Eye Books) and activity art books Pictura Prints: Travelogue (2014, Templar Books), Explore & Draw Patterns (2014, Ivy Press). His books have been published in every continent except Antarctica.
My work thrives under constraints. Limiting colour palettes or applying strict compositions just seems to make my work better.
— Owen Davey
All of Davey’s pieces start with pencilled thumbnail illustrations. He then scans and works directly on top using Photoshop. Once he is happy with the shapes, he adds textures and “imperfections”. The finished pieces use unifying palettes, repetitive shapes and patterns. But no matter how detailed, all the layers seem to sit on one plane. Distant hilltops are just as close as foreground homes. Crowds of people stand together without a consideration for personal space. Flattening the perspective, like Davey does, give the illustration an iconographic aesthetic and increases readability.