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Arthur Owen-Smith talks about how he creates digital art using traditional inspiration

Our latest exhibitor, Arthur Owen-Smith discusses the early interest in art he showed as a child, and the exciting experience of exhibiting his first solo show.

Are you local to the area?

“I grew up in Cheltenham but I currently live in Tewksbury. I know Cheltenham really well, it’s a great town to grow up in and it's been part of my upbringing and surely made me who I am now.”

What do you think of the art scene in Cheltenham?

“I think it’s growing and getting better. It’s quite diversified, but there’s a very traditional edge to the artwork and the artists that work here. A lot of galleries focus on fine art painting and sculpture and I think there’s definitely room for some energetic and vibrant artwork to come through.”

Do you work from a studio?

“I work predominately digitally. The majority of my work is done using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I mostly work from home because it gives me all the tools I need to produce the images I like to make.”

How long have you had an interest in art?

“I think I’ve always had an interest in some creative outlet. Even as a kid, I always knew that I wanted to get into the creative art world in some form or another, but it wasn’t until university where I sort of honed down into the illustration sector and defined my art a little bit more in that respect. I developed a career as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer, and moved it towards making my own work in the last few years.”

What are you hoping for with this exhibition?

“I really wanted to work with Sixteen Gallery to promote a different type of art. Like I said, there’s a very traditional element to the artwork that is usually portrayed in Cheltenham, and I think it was an interesting opportunity to showcase something very different. Big bold prints with lots of energy and eye-catching graphic design was something I hadn’t seen, so it was a chance to gauge whether art buyers in Cheltenham would be interested in something along those lines.”

Is this your first exhibition?

“It is my first solo show. I’ve shown work before in other places but never been able to create and curate my own exhibition with entirely my own work. It’s been an exciting opportunity to create something from the ground up.”

What advice do you have for other artists?

“With regards to exhibiting their own work, I think it’s about getting prepared and really thinking about how to present your work properly. A lot of the stumbling blocks I encountered through developing my own work came from trying to perfect the finished product that I wanted. I think putting more time into creating the best way to display your work, is the best thing you can do as an emerging artist.”

What inspired you to create these pieces?

“I’ve got a huge range of interests and hobbies and I think they always feed into the work that I do. There’s a lot of subjects that I end up focusing on such as food & drink or nature, using big bold graphic lettering and the retro style aesthetic with colours and shapes. This show was also about focusing on the print styles of traditional media like screen printing and lithograph printing, and trying to create some of those effects with digital techniques.”

Are you influenced by other artists?

“I’m constantly on the look for inspiration in other work that I find. Often wandering galleries and art shows to see what kind of work is out there. That will always feed into my work in some form or another, whether that’s a beautiful palette someone else has worked with or perhaps some of the shapes and iconography or graphic imagery that other artists might have used.”

What is your process of creating a piece of your work?

“I used to do quite a bit of sketching and that occasionally feeds into the beginning process but most often I like to just forming shapes digitally in Illustrator and layering them up. All the pieces in the show are built in lots and lots of layers so it’s about creating texture and shape through those layers. The detail is built over time and it’s created little by little with different shapes and perhaps symbols or forms and as they group together or sit over one another, the picture starts to form within that.”

Are you enjoying exhibiting at Sixteen Gallery?

“Yeah, it’s been brilliant. It’s been a great opportunity to meet the public and get some feedback on the work that I’m producing. It’s been a real experience getting everything together, producing limited edition prints and finding ways to maximise the way that they’re displayed or showing them off to the best of my ability. I’ve certainly learnt a lot from doing it, and I know that the next show I do, I’ll be able to use what I’ve learnt from this one.”

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