Amelia’s Magazine | Ohh Deer Illustration Collective: an interview with Co-Founder Jamie Mitchell

Ohh Deer , Jamie Mitchell illustration

Ohh Deer is more than just a site that sells cool graphic tees, it’s a collective of young creatives featuring some of the most talented emerging illustrators out there. Founded in 2011 by Jamie Mitchell and Mark Callaby, Ohh Deer offers everything from greeting cards to homeware. In fact, Amelia ear-marked one of their lovely cushions (designed by William Branton) in her Christmas Gift Ideas 2012 post. More than just a quirky online shop, jam-packed full of juicy illustrated bits ‘n’ bobs, they also function a bit like a creative agency, working on briefs together (for clients like Universal Music) and helping promote each others work.

The band of merry pens that make up this fresh-faced brand have proven than two leads (of the pencil variety) are better than one with their great products and impressive roster of clients. Rather than brave a tough industry alone, Mark and Jamie decided to work together, bringing a whole host of other bright young things they admired on board too. There’s now a whole range of pencils involved, including Nicholas Darby, Alice Potter, Ruben Ireland, Miguel Mansur, Jamie Mills and Kris Tate. The site also stocks products by various other illustrators including Jack Teagle and Emma May to name but a few.

Ohh Deer, Jamie Mitchell illustration

The result is Ohh Deer, the equivalent of a sort of ‘super-freelancer’ with more time, talent, range and skills than one illustrator could muster alone. Fun, fresh, beautiful, honest, scary, relevant, Ohh Deer illustrations cover a lot of bases with their vast range of styles. Complete with a young, contemporary vibe, the company is straight out of the dreams of many a creative-type.

If you don’t already follow Ohh Deer on Facebook then you should, as it quickly becomes obvious that their brand-name gives them an edge for cracking all manner of social media-friendly and meme-happy jokes. This isn’t just a collective that follows visual culture, they’re part of it.

Ohh Deer , Jamie Mitchell illustration

Last year, to give my wardrobe an injection of all things illustration, I took out a subscription to the Ohh Deer T-shirt Club. This, like my Stack Magazines subscription, is one of my monthly indulgences. Whether it’s a design featuring a lemon with adorably bulgy eyes or kitchen utensils with attitude, these staples give my wardrobe, and my creativity, a boost each month. There’s so much stuff on the site I want that it would be impossible for me to list it all here, but currently I’m drooling over some lovely wooden neck-creatures , wishing I could buy ALL the stationery as well as lusting after a whole batch of other penned goodies that make me shiver with creative delight. They even have copies of Wrap in their shop, an illustration magazine which comes with 5 sheets of illustrated wrapping paper each issue.

With all this in mind, I spoke to co-founder Jamie Mitchell about how he came to setup the business and what Ohh Deer has in store for 2013.

Ohh Deer , Jamie Mitchell illustration

What gave you the impetus to start Ohh Deer?
The business was founded as a means to support myself and Mark. After a while we added several Illustrators to our collective and since then it’s blossomed. We’ve realised the potential to help other creatives and we’re determined to create something synonymous with contemporary Illustration.

What philosophy do you think is at the heart of the business?
The business feeds back a direct proportion of profit to the artist who’s work it is, and that’s how we like to do it. Ohh Deer as a business needs enough profit to grow, and be able to launch people to a higher level of recognition but our core aim is to support illustrators, and a lot of support for freelancers comes financially.

Ohh Deer
Ohh Deer
Ohh Deer

What kind of plans do you have for Ohh Deer in the future?
We’re now on the highstreet, and hopefully will be in Topshop and Paperchase nationwide soon. Our next step is to get the brand recognised internationally, and the same process will hopefully be applied to several amazing countries.

How did you go about picking illustrators to collaborate with?
The original selection of Illustrators were picked from people who’s work we admired on Twitter, these were people we were in regular contact with and whose work we would love to own. Since then we’ve added Illustrators and Artists to the roster who embody everything we love about the field. We all have a contemporary feel to our work, and we all work differently.

Ohh Deer, Jamie Mitchell illustration

You started Ohh Deer with Mark Callaby, do you both run the project full-time?
Me and Mark founded the company in 2011, and we run the company from a HQ in Loughborough. Full-time there’s also Laura and soon to be Ricky who will be doing lots of tech related wizardry.

You originally pursued a career in Architecture, is this something you might look back to in future?
I might drift back to Architecture for small projects, I still love to design space, but never for anything permanent, I imagine my career will be very varied, as design can change so much from one project to the next.

Hannah Richards, Ohh Deer

What are the influences of your own personal illustration style?
A childhood diet of David Attenborough.

What other projects are you working on right now?
Ohh Deer is where the majority of my time is spent, I’m completing Album artwork for a very talented Musician at the minute. I’m doing a piece for an exhibition in Oxford about ‘contemporary fairytales’, I’m doing some work for a company called Kigu, who make brilliant onesies. I’ve just started a collection of Dinosaurs (because I love them) but also because I’ve been asked by the Natural History Museum to produce contemporary Dino products. I had an interesting email in my inbox this week about wallpaper design, so that could be happening too soon. Ohh Deer products will soon be on sale in Topshop and Paperchase as well as Scribbler and hopefully some other high street chains – so our mission to create a ‘launchpad’ for the artists is definitely taking shape. Next it will be the world.

Drew Turner, Ohh Deer
Rebecca Potter, Ohh Deer
Kris Tate, Ohh Deer

How often do you put pen to paper?
I don’t get to draw all that often, I don’t have any free time at all, I’m working to be able to do more, by hiring a PA to manage some of the details, but I normally output a single Illustration every two months or so.

What’s the best aspect of starting up your own business?
Being your own boss. I’m unemployable – and by that I don’t mean I’m not professional, I just get restless, bored and disappointed with an unvarying list of jobs to do. I also love the ability to help support and nourish the careers of lots of awesome illustrators – our online following allows us to showcase work and host public facing competitions to see what other brilliant work is out there.

And the worst?
Not having enough hours in the day.

Jaco Haasbroek, Ohh Deer

What advice would you give to budding illustrators?
Say yes to everything – Don’t expect to make any money to begin with, and when you’ve got some projects under your belt, don’t let big companies bully you for cheap labour, you’re a very talented individual and don’t you forget it!

Ruben Ireland, Ohh Deer

The beautiful illustrations in this piece were provided by Jamie Mitchell. The Ohh Deer products are by a range of illustrators and you can find them all on the Ohh Deer website.

Categories ,Alice Potter, ,architecture, ,collective, ,contemporary fairytales, ,cushions, ,David Attenborough, ,dinos, ,draw, ,Emma May, ,Graphic Design, ,greeting cards, ,Homeware, ,illustration, ,illustrators, ,Jack Teagle, ,Jamie Mills, ,Jamie Mitchell, ,Kigu, ,Kris Tate., ,Mark Callaby, ,Miguel Mansur, ,natural history museum, ,Nicholas Darby, ,Ohh Deer, ,onesies, ,Online Shop, ,Paperchase, ,Ruben Ireland, ,Sandra Dieckmann, ,Scribbler, ,shop, ,T shirt Club, ,topshop, ,twitter, ,Universal music, ,William Branton, ,Wrap Magazine

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Amelia’s Magazine | Jack Teagle opens up shop

Flyer designed by Russell Palmer

Two years since their first show in the basement of Shoreditch Town Hall, more about Circuit Wisely presented 17 Artists in an East London live-work space. This second exhibition asked artists to respond to the location and ‘architecture’ of a residential building, investigating its scope for possible comment on the contested geography of East London.

Emily Whitebread Stills from a Film (2010)

The artists work (of which I was one) had to be temporal and capable of negotiating the duplicitous communal spaces of the building, such as the car park, balconies, stairwells, lifts and terraces. Circuit Wisely made it implict that the artwork was not to impinge on the everyday movement occurring within the building, pushing the artists to consider how their work would be installed without marking the building and it’s context within the geographical location.

The exhibition began on the ground level of the first stairwell, Mihaela Brebenel’s installation 1 to 7; G to 6A – Loose Ends invited the viewer to follow the woolen thread wrapped around the handrails and architectural piping. Mihaela’s work explored the notion of navigating a particular space – through externalising the internal sources of what one does and does not see upon entering a residential building.

Mihaela Brebenel 1 to 7; G to 6A – Loose Ends

Continuing upwards, I passed Richard King’s decorative installation and a burning red screen-print by Daniel Wilkins. However my attention was held by Ben Fox’sculptural shanty-town: Sublet City. The contrasting nature of the contemporary East London building and Fox’s fragile houses echo the rapid development of East London, where an organic mixture of old and new is being skewed by the rapid destruction of original property in favour of the new. Beautifully made from found materials, it is accompanied by ‘the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.’

Richard King Untitled

Dan Wilkins Untitled (2008)

Ben Fox Sublet City

The next level was occupied by Will Jennings’ Portfolio. A critical reflection on the building’s owner and his vast property ‘portfolio’. The publication with it’s selected photography and investigative text aims to create a dialogue between shared landscape and the increasing capitalisation of the concept of home. It is rare that such an opportunity for a piece of work criticising the building is installed in the location that it is criticising. It was interesting to see the interaction and discussion this piece caused with the residence of the building presenting them with the opportunity to re-think their living space. A favourable comparison to make is Hans Haacke’s ‘Shapolsky et al., Manhattan Real Estate Holdings, a Real-Time Social System as of May 1,1971′.

Will Jennings Portfolio

After reading the Portfolio, I continue to walk up the stairs and see Richard King’s second ornamental piece. Hanging in the window, on the level above, the back drop being the East London Skyline, are three beautiful photographs by Alex Ressel.

Richard King Untitled

Alex Ressel A Three Frame Film

‘DIAL 2-2-4-9 AND POINT TO THE SKY’ a vinyl text piece standing opposite a comical 3D image Lost in Space. The image of a famous Robot appears to vibrate from the paper and into a form of hologram – this I am seeing without the help of 3D glasses.

After the completing the stairwell, I made my way to Charlotte Gibson’s Sitting Room Installation made my eyes pop! The collection of brightly coloured collages, furniture, lamps, china, jelly, plastic and string are are arranged in such a way that the space that is inbetween them becomes more important by the string that attaches them, the water and jelly that resides in them and the shadows that are casted by the array of objects.

Charlotte Gibson Sitting Room Installation

Natascha Nanji’s A Tail of Two Cities occupied the lift in the second stairwell. The ceiling was covered with punctured black rubber, the work physically inserted itself into the lift through the weight of the shells contained within the black fabric. The imposition of the transformed the lift experience, from everyday to the uncanny. On one journey a chattering couple walked in unaware of what was above their heads, until a shell grazed the top of the man’s head, alarming him and drawing his attention to the ceiling. A scene from a horror film perhaps?

Natascha Nanji A Tale of Two Cities

After coming down in the lift, I returned to the 5th Floor to find the walkway occupied by Zoe Paul’s Buoy and the terrace contained Susanna JP Byrne’s Cy Cartographer No. Sculpture. Standing tall, the sculpture looks out towards the city – reminiscent of a century guard, looking out over the London landscape. The copper wire felt referential of a school science project and the tripod’s brightly coloured poles appeared similar to the yard sticks used to measure playing fields during practical geography lessons.

Susanna JP Byrne Cy Cartographer No. Sculpture

Zoe Paul Buoy Photograph by Selvi May

Marnie Hollande’s performance piece Gas wowed the audience on the exhibition’s opening night. A figure emerged onto the walkway, her face covered by a shimmering midnight blue mask, the body cloaked in chiffon with attached balloons. Moving onto the terrace to continue the performance, the body and balloons struggled against both the wind and crowd.. The exceptionally strong wind increased the movements of the performer moving within the constraints of her costume. At one point, balloons detached themselves from the costume and were carried into the darkness.

Marnie Hollande Gas

On reflection Jennings, Dray, Fox and Bryne’s pieces directly tackled the building’s geographical location. The other pieces included by Circuit Wisely responded more directly towards the architecture, whereas others echoed the idea of ornamentation. Personally, the importance of the exhibition, lay in tracing perspectives and making connections between the work within the building’s parameters. Circuit Wisely shift away from the stress and importance of individual works when umbrellaed into a singular meaning all too common with groups shows.

The exciting thing about Circuit Wisely is not just the diversity of work on display but the transition they have gone through as a collective of curators. The success of CWII were that the visitor appeared to be completely free to move about the building, but were fact deliberately manoeuvred to encounter the work in relationship to the various movements one can make within the space. The curation and choice of art works allows visitors to experience different environments and transports them from a block of flats to an interesting space for creative people to come together and display work. This show is successful as it is not constrained by the gallery space. It is a platform for the viewer to encounter works in different environments heightening their experience of viewing a group show – and this is the success of the Circuit Wisely curatorial team.

All Photographs by Circuit Wisely

Jack Teagle heroes and villains
Heroes and Villains by Jack Teagle. I *heart* this image.

You may remember that I had a fabulous time at Jack Teagle’s exhibition at Nobrow earlier this year. Then I saw a tweet about his brand new shop and thought it might be time to catch up with one of my favourite illustrators…

What else has been happening since your Dungeons and Desktops exhibition at Nobrow earlier this year?
Just recently I finished my second solo show over in Porto, buy Portugal at the Galeria Dama Aflita. The title was ‘Zona de Combate’ and the focus was on my wrestlers and pop-culture violence. I’ve been contributing to group shows too. The Monsterbation show at the Pony Club in Portland, dosage Oregon, and Tennis Apocalypse, a show in Seattle.

Jack Teagle exhibition

Another group show is coming up in Porto at the end of this year which I will be contributing too as well. I’ve just worked with Mario, the creator of the ‘Causeineedit blog to create a limited run of tshirts, which you can see here. There’s always an exhibition or a publication to work towards, so it’s exciting. I’ve done some editorial illustrations as well as some commercial projects and book design. I’ve been working on painting more, but illustration is something I really want to get my teeth into properly.

Jack Teagle prints

Why the online shop? What are you selling on there?
After selling paintings at shows, I realised that a lot of people were after certain pictures, but they had already been bought up. Painting – then immediately selling the image – wasn’t getting the most out of my work, so I thought a lot more people could enjoy these pictures if I made some up into Giclee prints. I wanted to expand my little business too.

Best buys from your store for:
Granny: Woodland Print
Baby: Skateboarding Cat
Big sister: Happy Print
Little brother? Heroes and Villains Print

You’ve been inspired by a lot of movie monsters – have your favourites changed over the years?
I think some have and some haven’t. I love Nosferatu now, as a child I would have found him a little dull. I loved the totally bizarre monsters, my favourite would have to be The Creature from the Black Lagoon, it’s just such a great design. I’ve always loved mutants and animal hybrids too, especially the Fly.

fear and misery_jack teagle
Fear and Misery prints by Jack Teagle.

What’s the best classic horror movie?
For me it’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It still scares me to this day now. It has the most unsettling atmosphere and sense of claustrophobia. Gore and visual effects don’t really do anything for me. It was just down to the mystery and the atmosphere, I remember first watching and wondering what in God’s name are those pods!

What’s this about the Daddy Donkey Mexican Grill?
Daddy Donkey was really fun to work on. I got the job through the YCN. Joel, the owner of the Daddy Donkey chain saw some of my older wrestling work and hand-drawn text and wanted me to work on some Luchador inspired artwork.

How is life in the south west?
It’s been pretty cool recently, I’ve just been working away. Not much happens, but I can finally drive, so that relieves some boredom. It’s always a relaxed atmosphere down this way. I travel up whenever I can, usually to meet clients and see how things are going, every few months (I should get up more often!) My top tip would be, only megabus a journey if absolutely needed! The train is the way to go, the extra money is worth it. I felt like a sardine every time I went on megabus.

Jack Teagle characters wrestling

Who makes the best sketchbooks?
I’m still searching for the perfect sketchbook! I change format every now and then to keep things fresh. I did use Moleskine, but they tend to fall apart if you carry them around a lot. I love a sketchbook with good paper and usually a good hard cover. The Handbook Travelogue sketchbooks are the best I’ve found so far.

I got a bit of a shock the other day when I opened my local East End rag and saw a little piece about a collaboration you’ve done with the Museum of London. Tell me more about Oscar Kirk’s 1919 diary….
I was contacted through Anorak Magazine to work on a project with a few other illustrators on Oscar Kirk’s diary. Oscar was a 14 year old boy who worked on the docks in 1919 and kept a diary which gives a good look on life back then. He also kept the weather and what he had to eat. We were all given a diary extract to illustrate, and then the finished images were published in Anorak Magazine with the original text. The pages were also blown up and put on display in the Museum of London. (We did an exclusive interview with Cathy Olmedillas, founder of Anorak Magazine: to read it click here)

What have you got planned for 2011?
I want to get some more solo shows sorted out, maybe set out to try some resin cast toys too. At the moment the plan is to keep working hard and to chase any opportunity that comes knocking!

You can check out Jack’s shop right here. I’d grab yourself a bit of the action as soon as you can…

Categories ,Daddy Donkey, ,Galeria Dama Aflita, ,Handbook Travelogue, ,Jack Teagle, ,Luchador, ,Moleskine, ,Monsterbation, ,Museum of London Docklands, ,Nobrow, ,Nosferatu, ,Online Shop, ,Oregon, ,Oscar Kirk, ,Pony Club, ,portland, ,Portugal, ,seattle, ,Tennis Apocalypse, ,YCN

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