Lewis Osborne is a Bristol-based graphic designer and illustrator. His style is striking, optimistic and surreal, using bright and blocky colour palettes and clean line-work in juxtaposition to the delicate grainy texture his work lies upon. There is an almost utopian whimsy to his drawings, evoking futurism and familiarity all at once. Lewis answered some questions for us about his practice, his journey into design, and where his art will take him next.
How did your journey as a designer and illustrator begin?
My journey into the design world started when I was about 15. I remember I was browsing YouTube one day and stumbled upon a random Photoshop tutorial which led me down a rabbit hole. I downloaded Photoshop that same day, designed a YouTube background for someone and from then I knew I wanted to pursue design as a career. I had a stint at creating a clothing line, studied graphic design at college and university, and now I’ve now been working in a design studio in Bristol for just over 3 years.
Alongside design I have always loved to illustrate, often incorporating illustration into my graphic design work. I use Instagram to make things for fun, and I have participated in a couple of the 36daysoftype challenges which allow me to experiment with a variety of styles. When the pandemic started, I started experimenting more with illustration. With all the additional free time from being stuck at home with no commute, I knew I wanted to use that time to explore illustration more – especially forcing myself to draw people.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your personal work?
A lot of my personal work reflects situations in life, hence why the majority of my recent work is reflective of our current situations; stuck at home, zoom dates, trying to stay happy, etc.
Aside from being inspired by the endless artists on Instagram, I draw a lot of my inspiration from walking around the city that I live in, Bristol. I’m fortunate enough to live quite central so I get to see a variety of mural work on my everyday walks. Since I’ve been stuck inside I tend to look at everyday occurrences and try to think of an idea based on that, and encapsulate moments or feelings that I think a lot of people can relate to. It’s fun to challenge myself to make art out of anything - even our boring and repetitive routines.
You are somebody who can work in many different styles successfully - is there a stylistic direction you want to experiment with next?
Thank you! I have recently dipped my toe into the world of Cinema 4D again so that is something I want to keep playing around with. Even though the program itself seems terrifying. I know the potential it has is not only for 3D work, but for 2D work too so I know it’s a program I need to add to my skillset.
What are your favourite pieces you’ve done recently?
I have really liked the outcomes of my experiments with mixing bubbles with illustrations and typography. I’ve played around with using a distorting bubble effect before to add some texture to my 2D work, and since 'bubbles' has been a word that keeps popping up throughout this pandemic, it felt fitting to try to incorporate them into an illustration series. My favourite piece from these explorations is the ‘F&CK’ design, the general balance between all the elements seems to work really well it feels the most appropriate being that ‘f*ck’ is probably the word that most summarises our collective experience this past year.
Continuing on with the bubbles theme, I have just finished creating this years 36daysoftype letters which follow a similar sort of style. I’m super happy with how they have turned out and I can’t wait to share them.