oliver dunn talks


Oliver Dunn’s work reminds us of the vibrancy of Keith Haring, crossed with the intricacy of a colourful Escher. We sat down with the Leeds born, London based artist  for a chat taking in his favourite artists, techniques, recurring patterns and more besides…

Hi Oliver, for the uninitiated among us please tell us a bit about yourself – what do you do and where are you from?

Hey, well I am originally from Leeds West Yorkshire but I moved to London about a year a go. I am Currently a Graphic designer for Urban Outfitters Europe and also do a lot of my own self initiated projects and Freelance on the side.

Having had a peruse of your website its clear that you work both as a commercial artist/designer as well as making your own artwork, independent of brief. How do you balance the two, commercial work and your own stuff?

Yer, I do a bit of both – I work as a Graphic designer Mainly for Urban Europe but I still try to do as much personal work as possible, thats what I really love to do. It can be hard, balancing the two – and normally involves lots of evenings and weekends working on personal stuff, but its something I have always done since I was a kid – I always had a pen in my hand.

You seem to be quite heavily involved with Urban Outfitters, whats your involvement with them specifically?

Well I started out as a Display Artist at Urban Outfitters designing and building fixtures and implementing Window Schemes and in-store displays. Each store has their own wood workshop and everything in store is made by Display Artists it is a really unique job it also involved lots of travelling to new stores and working on new store openings with a great bunch of creative people. My heart was always in graphic design and Illustration and I was still doing a lot of my personal work and freelance work alongside working as a Display Artist. An opportunity to work on the Graphics team in Head Office became available and I applied straight away got the job and now I am in London doing that which Is great!

You seem to have a bit of a fascination with wiry, spaghetti-like shapes – the motif features a lot in your work – where does this stem from?

Haha, I am not really sure to be honest – I think it was something that I did at Uni in the Third year and for some reason it crops up in loads of my work! I think I just enjoy drawing it to be honest.

Whats your dream job?

Thats a hard question because I really enjoy my job, but I would love my own studio and to have the time to work on more meaty personal projects, and really put all my time and energy into them. 

Did you study art at college or are you self taught?

I studied at Leeds College of art and Design I did a Ba National Diploma in Graphic Design then I went on to do a Degree tin Graphic Design I loved that college and met some really great people along the way. 

Who are some of artists who you are most influenced by, and are there any unknown artists out there who we should know about?

I think People like Mike Perry, Jon Burgerman, Klub 7,Kate Moross,Danny Sangra,Parra,Andy Remeter, Otto Baum, Steve Powers, Jeremyville – People that have really developed personal style and still keep coming up with great work and still having fun with it. 

Whats your artistic process – is everything done freehand? How much do you use the computer in your creations?  

It depends what I am working on to be honest, most of my personal work is done freehand and away from the computer. I spend most days working on a computer so when I get home I dont want to go anywhere near one, I just want to put some music on and paint.

I see you do the flyers for Rubix (which are great btw) – are you involved in any other musical projects and, also, how important is music as a source of inspiration in your art?

I am musically illiterate thats probably why I became an artist – I always wished I could play an instrument but never could, not even the recorder. But yer, music has been a big influence. Leeds has a great music scene so I kind of grew up around that and with Rubix I wanted to try replicate the energy and vibrancy they put into their night. Gabriel Day who runs the night in Newcastle and now also in Glasgow is a great guy too, I really enjoy working with people who are passionate about what they do I think it really rubs of on me and I feed off their energy.

What have you got coming up, in terms of exhibitions & projects, in the near future?

I am looking to put on a big exhibition next summer in London and launch my shop! So keep your eyes peeled for that…

Keep up to speed with Oliver Dunn’s work over at his website.