As part of our current Short Courses exhibition on display at the Granary Building, Kings Cross, Oliver O’Keeffe, Graphic Designer, Illustrator and tutor at Central Saint Martins has contributed an amazing piece work now on display as well as his stunning sketchbook work. Teaching the Illustration Workshop and Introduction to Illustration (Online) courses, as well as tutoring upon Summer Study Abroad – Graphic Design; Oliver discusses his origin story, how he stays inspired and shares his wisdom on embracing our own unique abilities.
How did you become an Illustrator?
I have always been interested in stories. As a kid I was obsessed with films and would re-watch my favourites over and over. I would get engrossed in how certain scenes would look; for example I was fascinated by the ending of the film Bedknobs and Broomsticks, where the armour comes to life; I would re-enact this scene in the living room with a butter knife. I also developed a passion for comics from an early age, which helped plant the idea of drawing and narrative into my head. I loved Marvel comics, in particular the X-Men. As a ten year old, characters like Wolverine, Gambit and Rogue were very much part of my life.
I think it was only natural that from this point on I would do something with drawing and storytelling.
Where do you get your inspiration from and how do you stay inspired?
Inspiration is a very fluid thing and can change from one year to the next. There are some staples in my life like comics, painting and film, though sometimes certain ideas will become very important.
I also have a couple of illustration projects on the go that keep me inspired. One is called 52wordsayear.com where I have to respond to a word each week; I do this with three other illustrators and the project has been going for about three years. I also take weekly drawing trips with two friends. They are both technically very accomplished so it’s really inspiring to learn from them.
What are you working on at the moment?
A comic book called ‘This Unheimlich Life’ about a guy who feels he can only validate his life if he is “a creative”. Unfortunately, he has no discernible creative talent. The story is really about someone who always thinks the grass is greener, he may have significant talents in other areas but is so blindsided by the idea that he must be creative that he is never really settled. The charters are also wearing costumes inspired by artists Rebecca Horn. So, lots of leather and pointy things.
Tell us about your work in the CSM Short Courses exhibition.
I run two short courses for CSM, Introduction to Illustration (Online) and Illustration Workshop. They are both designed to focus on what the student does as an image maker. Illustration is a very diverse industry with a lot of different styles and ways of working. The courses are designed to celebrate how the individual works and to find ways to help them progress. I do this by setting a number of briefs; some are more industry focused, like book covers and others are more probing, asking questions about illustration and what it can be.
Which piece of creative work in any discipline do you most love?
‘Black Hole’ by Charles Burns.
What advice would you give to aspiring creatives?
Don’t be alarmed if you can’t draw like Raphael, only Raphael could draw like Raphael. Find out what it is only you can do as an image maker and embrace that.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
A Buddhist on a Megabus once convinced me that drawing is a great form of meditation. So if you don’t know what to draw then draw for peace of mind.
For further information and to book your place on an upcoming course visit the Illustration Workshop, Introduction to Illustration (Online) and Summer Study Abroad – Graphic Design course pages. All available courses can be found at the Central Saint Martins Short Courses website.