British illustrator Owen Gildersleeve has made a name for himself creating intricate paper illustrations and animations. His carefully hand-cut layers and playful use of light and shadow create his unique aesthetic. Here he talks us through the five tracks that have been the soundtrack to his professional life, from the important influence of music on his creative evolution to the records that fuelled his epic projects for Comic Con.
Cream – Sunshine of Your Love
I’ve been playing the drums since I was eleven and it’s been the one constant that has maintained throughout all the shifts and changes that have gone on over the years in my life and career. Cream was one of the bands that I grew up on thanks to my Mum and Dad’s record collection, along with the likes of Zeppelin, Sabbath, Hendrix and The Who. I was always in awe of the drummers of these bands, like Ginger Baker and Keith Moon, as they were a real key part if not sometimes the main focus of the music and so it’s not really surprising that I started to play that kind of music in my own bands.
These albums were also important to me artistically as I used to spend a lot of time admiring and reading through all of the record sleeves. So it was through bands like these that I also developed my initial interests in design, photography and illustration.
Charlottefield – Nine Tails
I went on to study Graphic Design at the University of Brighton. It was a really amazing three years for me both socially, meeting a bunch of lifetime friends, as well a creatively, being surrounded by some amazingly talented people. During my time there I also went to a lot of gigs, and one of the bands I saw regularly was a local Brighton group called Charlottefield. The drummer was incredible but always looked like he was having the worst time!
I got to know a few local promoters during that time, playing some shows myself in a band I formed whilst down there, and I started making posters to sell at their events. These little personal projects gave me a chance to experiment and push my style, as well as helping to fill up my portfolio with lots of new work, so it eventually started leading onto my first paid commissions.
Yussef Kamaal – String of Light (live)
I’m now based in East London, and my studio is in a building sharing with lots of amazing creatives. The community aspect of the East London design scene is what drew me to the area in the first place. It’s an exciting feeling to be surrounded by so many talented and lovely people from all different realms of the creative sphere; from illustrators, designers and photographers to musicians, artists and even framers.
Yussef Kamaal is a firm favourite of my studio playlist. They were a London-based band signed to Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood label. I’ve included a live video as I sadly never got to see these guys perform as they split last year, so all I have now are the YouTube videos. They’re part of the new wave of jazz that has gripped London over the past few years, with thanks to people like Gilles Peterson who is a strong advocate for these artists. It’s another thing that adds to my excitement about being in this city at the moment, as there really does feel to be an intense creative energy at work.
Weedeater – God Luck and Good Speed (live)
One of my favourite things about the work I do is being able to travel, and I’m lucky to have been on some amazing trips over the past few years. One that has stuck in my mind was when I was asked to make a 3D paper sculpture for last year’s Silicon Valley Comic Con in San Jose. I teamed up with my good friend Thomas Forsyth who’s a 3D designer that I met during my Brighton years, and together we decided to make a life-size K-2SO to celebrate the recent release of Rogue One. We then had an intensive few weeks building in my studio and shipped all the elements out to San Jose where we pieced it together live throughout the event.
Tom and I are both heavy music fans often sharing new music, and so during the build, we were blasting out a lot of punk and metal. One of those bands was Weedeater, who’s album ‘God Luck and Good Speed’ is a real beast. So we were excited to find out that they were playing in Oakland while we were over in the States for the Comic Con event. Weedeater’s show was one of the best live events I’d ever witnessed, and they had a new drummer on the tour – Travis Owen – who’s energy added a whole new level to the show – Keep an eye out for the hi-hat kicks!
Modern Technology – Modern Detritus
A bit of a self-indulgent one to finish! I’ve recently formed a new band with my good pal Chris Clarke who is now the Deputy Creative Director at The Guardian. We’ve been jamming for a good few years now but have recently picked it up a notch and last month went into a studio to record our debut EP. The music is a bringing together of all our different interests, from post-punk and metal to noise and even a bit of doom.
The band has been a great antidote to the increasing work pressures over the past few years – drumming is the ultimate stress release! Also with the band and the lyrical content we’ve been trying to make a statement about the current political and social state we’re in, and we’re planning on donating any EP profits to a selection of mental health and anti-austerity charities to try to give something back to the people who most need it. So keep an eye out on our Instagram for updates on all of that: @moderntechnologyband
Portrait by Jon Aaron Green