Pretty Profiles: Ollie Silvester

Currently Listening To: Phoebe Bridgers, Stranger in the Alps. So tender and beautiful.
If you were a mundane object, what would you be? I would probably be an empty bottle. A green one. I don’t know what it is but I love glass bottles (and drawing them) especially when you get some lovely light coming through them.


tell us about yourself and the kind of work you create.

My work is wobbly and child like. I don’t really force the naivety out into my work, I think it comes fairly naturally. I’ve never been classically ‘good’ at drawing, it’s always been fairly stylised. I’m quite impatient with drawing too, i’m not one of those people who can spend hours on one drawing, I just want to see it finished, so I guess my visual language comes from the instantaneousness of it. I use quite heavy pencil and watercolour mainly, and I have a bit of a heavy hand, so I would say that has a strong influence on how it looks too. Also I really love a good scribble, I could never stay in the lines as a child, and i’m not gonna change it now!


what is your typical day like? are there any challenges that you face on a consistent basis?

I don’t know! I don’t really have a typical day. I work a day job as well as being an illustrator so I just try to fit them round one another the best I can. I suppose that is probably my consistent challenge, finding the time and energy to do both well. Also trying to make sure my pet rabbit doesn’t chew all of my stuff while i’m zoned out drawing is difficult. They chew EVERYTHING.


your work is really organic and free-flowing! what is your approach to planning out a composition?

Pretty straightforward really! I normally have a very strong image in my head of how I want something to look. Then I thrash out some thumbnails and try to make it work in the real world on paper. Obviously it doesn’t always work out, so I have to retreat to the drawing board sometimes until i’m happy with it. Then I work up a more detailed and to scale rough, this way I can see if it’s really going to work with all of the information I want in the image. Like I said, pretty straightforward! No magic dream moments of enlightenment over here!


you’ve been attending a lot of art fairs and festivals lately to sell your merch. can you give us any handy tips about making cool things and selling at events? 

Hmmmm. Make what you want and sell what you are happy with! I think the thing I love so much about art fairs is that there are no rules. You are the boss, the editor, the art director and the artist. Whatever you want to make, you can, and it can be about anything, or nothing! It can be as silly as you please, as dark or as fluffy. And don’t worry about if ‘people will like it or not’. It’s a big world out there, full of many different tastes and passions, so there is always going to be at least one person that likes what you make, letting go of that worry is key to enjoying the whole process.

I think there is such a purity to it, and you can always tell when people are making the work for themselves and not just as a money maker, it’s always full of so much energy and life. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always great when people buy your stuff, but it’s the response from your creations that’s the best part. Also it’s nice just to get out the house!


fill us in about the zine you created called ho hum and the motivation behind it.

Ho-Hum is a small zine about inanimate objects, and how those objects may react to being used for their intended purpose or generally being interacted with. Towards the end of art school I developed a slight obsession with mundanity, the normal and the boring. I wanted to explore these things and moments and give them life and humor! I’ve always been attracted to objects and had a strange empathy for them, treated them like they were sentient. Don’t you think it’s sad when you drop something and it breaks! I always feel a genuine sadness for the object. And I guess it’s just an extension of that. I’m not sure I’ve done my feeling for objects justice yet though, maybe one day i’ll be satisfied.


can you tell us a little about how you created “arnold” the 7 ft. giant for “the drawing imaginarium” with anorak magazine?

Woah, into the archives for this one! I was at art school at the time, and we were working on a brief for Anorak. I think I caught Cathy’s eye with the strange kinetic 3D work I was making at the time and she asked me to do something LARGE for the tenth anniversary show they were putting on. It had to be interactive and it had to be about drawing, so I decided to produce an idea generator in the form of a giant 7ft man with a light bulb for a head and three spinners that had different words on them.

I built it in a freezing cold workshop by myself! It was great as the kids that came to the events really responded to it and made some amazing interpretations of the prompts which they had generated. I’m still very fond of the concept, but as a physical thing I hate it now! I guess that’s just the natural progression of things.


what is the prettiest picture you’ve made recently?

Ah! I’ve just made a print called Headspace. It’s black and white with lots of plant life and texture (shocker, I know). It’s all about finding that sweet spot in your brain where you can go and relax and not worry about things. I drew it as a whole image on one piece of paper with very little software editing which I never do! It was very refreshing and satisfying to just rely on a pencil and be happy with the result (for now at least).