Meet Owen Findley OR8 Design / by Carley Batley

Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Owen and I design and screen print as OR8 DESIGN (‘oreight’ – although I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been called Orb Design). I have been designing gig posters and art prints for a while, but in 2011 I took part in a night school class on screen printing at Inc. Workshop in Leeds (now sadly closed) and have been hooked on screen printing ever since. Printing by hand and seeing the design come together layer by layer felt amazing after years of only designing digitally.

My first love was always gig posters and some of my best moments as a designer have come from being able to work with some of my favourite bands to design and print artwork for their gig. However, gig posters are inevitably going to be fairly niche (finding someone who likes the band, likes the design and was maybe at the show, is like matching Cinderella to her slipper), which led to me doing more art prints which hopefully have a broader appeal. Designing for myself, being able to focus on my own ideas, has been liberating and something I am enjoying more and more.

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You create a lot of gig posters. How do you translate music into something visual?
I think that is one of my favourite challenges with gig posters. I tend to start by listening to the band, getting a good idea for their sound/style. Some music suits certain styles of artwork better than others. I’ll also listen for themes in the lyrics or get inspiration from the title of an album. Sometimes there will be a brief where the theme of the poster is set out. I recently designed a poster for Leeds band Post War Glamour Girls’ album launch show at The Brudenell – the album is called Swan Songs and the band were quite specific about wanting a swan theme for the design. Other times, I’ll be free to do almost anything I want.

You obviously draw inspiration from dramatic scenery. What's your favourite view?
I spent many childhood holidays in Anglesey in North Wales and still love going back and seeing the dramatic cliffs and empty beaches. Over the last few years, my girlfriend Lucy and I have been exploring Northern France by campervan and never fail to be impressed by the cute villages, huge chateaux and rolling countryside.

A little closer to home, we have Woodhouse Ridge at the top of our road, a few minutes from leaving the house you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere in a lovely forest. It’s also hard to beat Otley Chevin for amazing views! One of things I love about Leeds is that you don’t have to travel far to feel like you are in the middle of nowhere. Having recently bought our own campervan, we can’t wait to get out and explore more of Yorkshire and beyond!

You're living the campervan dream. How easily does your creativity as a printer translate into renovating your van?
I can’t take too much credit for the van renovation so far. Having a girlfriend who is a whizz on the sewing machine has been amazing for knocking up curtains, table cloths and cushions. Lucy and I have been collaborating on designs together, many of which will end up in the van. Lucy creates handmade fabric goods as Button & Stitch, and together we have been screen printing fabric which Lucy has then sewn into cushions, bags and other bits and bobs. The van has definitely become a bit of a ‘muse’, and features in a number of upcoming designs. Hopefully people like buying prints of campervans!

Which stall are you most excited about seeing at our summer fair?
Having been to the last two Northern Crafts as a customer, I know that all the stalls are going to be amazing! I’m looking forward to catching up with a few familiar faces too. It’s always ace to hang out with Leeds legends (and one of the best screen printers around) The Lost Fox and I love James Green’s landscape and cityscape lino/screen prints. Liverpool duo Toucan Tango create amazing homeware and gig posters, and also co-host the great Liverpool Print Fair (well worth checking out). I’ve also got my eye on some of the lovely leather goods at HÔRD and their Instagram account is great for atmospheric, dark shots of the wilderness. There’s too many to mention though, and I know I will come away from the weekend with a few new favourites as well.

Find OR8 Design at our summer fair at Northern Monk Brew Co. on Saturday 5th & Sunday 6th August 2017.