Back in 2016, we were so impressed with a young illustrator’s characterful work, we made him one of our Graduates. That illustrator, Oscar Mitchell, had just graduated from Falmouth University and entered the creative sector with a toolkit of skills that he’s since applied to a range of editorial commissions. Though the commercial work has steadily flowed in for the Glasgow-based illustrator, for Oscar, he’s learned a few fundamental lessons in his four short years since graduating.
Along with championing the importance of failure and rejection, not paying too much attention to social media (and working hard of course) Oscar has “been trying to explore more personal projects rather than pursuing industry briefs” he explains. “I’m trying to up the volume of artwork I make, just because I want to make it,” he adds on sustaining a healthy level of creative stimulation. He notes how his work can “lose a bit of soul” during an excessive editing process “and I got a bit caught up with making everything look shiny and perfect.” As a result, he’s been focusing on loosening up his drawing practice, speeding up his working methods while purposely leaving the illustrations raw and unfettered.
In turn, he’s visited more museums, more life drawing sessions and holiday destinations to gather a rich source of drawing material. “Having limited tools and a limited amount of time is a great way of forcing out a visual language that I felt I’d lost from from the hours spent digitally editing.” From Budapest to Bratislava, Oscar’s newly founded freedom led his hand to capture scenes that intuitively stood out to him. “It’s a bit of a visual diary looking back at it,” says Oscar, “But at the time, I just wanted to draw what caught my eye and the work has come to represent the two places, just with my filter over it.”
In a pointedly different set of drawings, Oscar turned his attentions to the principle Glaswegian institution that is, Farmfoods. “I’m a bit obsessed with the leaflets and the in-your-faceness of the deals,” the illustrator says on the haphazard handouts. “Whether you like it or not, there’s an automatic subscription to the monthly publication that is the Farmfoods flyer.” It’s laid out like a panelled comic book, unfolds into a big poster of organised chaos, and full of slogans and catchphrases.” Oscar credits the frozen supermarket’s free handouts with “all the qualities of a great zine, but selling fish fingers.”
Finding joy in the junkmail quirks from the common catchphrase “Garden Peas – tender and delicious” to the comically named “Belcher’s square haggis” and “Pack of 10 Flipper Dippers”; Oscar prescribes his Farmfoods drawings with a deserving amount of whimsy. But fundamentally, the idea behind the paintings is simple: “Celebrate the flyers; the layout, colours and familiar faces and give these flyers their moment to be an artwork without a purpose.”
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