Chris Odgers is an exceptional talent and we are proud that his illustrations feature on our 15-year anniversary bag.
He has an exceptional eye for detail and has worked on a number of illustrations with us, including recently creating a stunning ice-scape composition for an experimental and award-winning ‘frozen-processed’ coffee. Chris has a publishing house, Sawhorse Books, born out of love for books and the illustrative process. It endeavours to “deliver treasured books that will hopefully excite and inspire” and that they do.
We caught up with him a few months ago to talk illustration, design and where he gets his inspirations come from.
How would you describe your style of work to someone who may not be familiar with you?
I’m very ‘traditional’ when it comes to illustration. Draftsmanship being the most important aspect. Different jobs often dictate me working in a variety of mediums, however I pendulum back and forth from pen and ink and oils being my favourite, there’s very little digital work. Stylistically people point out quite a retro feel to my work, 1950’s or ’80’s which I can see, I do like to take from a lot of past eras and mash it up. My work also tends to fall slightly into the darker or surreal camp, which I enjoy adding a good bit of playful humour to.
What’s kept things fresh over the years and where do you seek your design inspiration from?
I think my job is one in which you are always learning and developing technically, whether it be a process or research, it keeps things fresh and exciting. Alongside that providing my imagination still continues to deliver new images, concepts and stories, I’ll keep scribbling. There’s already a backlog that should keep me busy for a good time to come!
I rarely look to other artists for direct inspiration although I have my favourites like Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper, Norman Rockwell and Virgil Finlay to name just a few. I really find most inspiration in vintage photography, movies, music..generally I take from a wide variety of the arts and the world around me then adapt them into my art.
The Bone Yard Ballet (Picture-book from Sawhorse Books)
So where did it all begin? How did you get into art?
I think for a majority of artists they begin by scribbling away with crayons at an early age and just never stop, although the pens and paint gets more expensive, it’s something that flows through you. That’s how it’s been for me anyway. As a child I had so many vivid and beautifully illustrated story books, alongside that I grew up in a family of avid story tellers. My gran was an accomplished painter, I would sit by her for hours while we drew and painted. Worlds really collide when I say that my dad taught print technology process’ on Graphic Design and Illustration HND courses at our local tech. I grew up running around the studios, surrounded by the industry, the technical level of those artists and lecturers was phenomenal and it really gave me something to aspire to. So, it was from those early days you can say my path through life was pretty much set!
The Goatman eats a Sandwich (left), David Lynch (right).
How did your collaboration with Origin begin?
I already had a personal and professional relationship with the guys that run A-Side Studios going back many years, and via their design work with Origin I was briefed for a packaging job that they thought would be suited to my style. Since then I’ve worked on a number of commissions for Origin through A-Side.
What was your thinking behind the artwork for the San Antonio Frozen Natural process?
I always find if I research a job well to begin with then it always leads to a more satisfying solution. So, I started by reading about the particular process’ concerned with the San Antonio Frozen Natural. That led me to look at optically enhanced frozen structures and patterns, alongside researching the area that the beans originate, and then combining the former with some of the flora in the area. Trying to find a balance between being informative without being too prescriptive, combined with an approach concerned with patterns and mark making.