Rhys Owens is an exceptional illustrator from South Wales (UK). One quick look at his work and you can see he has an identifiable style that is all his own. He grew up in the era of Rubik’s Cubes, Thundercats, and the ZX Spectrum. Hidden Moves is the toybox for the collected works of this Welsh designer and illustrator who nurtured his earlier creative talents by decorating the faces of his sister’s dolls with a ballpoint pen. (I’m sure she was thrilled and this caused no problems around the house.)
In later life, he began experimenting with photography, illustration, and digital 3D to create his own unique style. This included the creation of a number of slightly surreal characters – the product of an overactive imagination and too much caffeine.
He is a Spotify junkie and spends the rest of his time sleeping, eating, and playing far too much Xbox. Sounds pretty good to me. Rhys was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about his work, inspiration and future plans.
What are your latest pieces and what can you tell us about them?
I regularly buy props to photograph and use in my artwork and last year I bought a high altitude pilot’s helmet from eBay which looks very sci-fi. I combined this with some stenciled imagery and vintage comic book textures to create a piece called ‘Urban Spaceman’ (seen above) which is hugely inspired by some of my favorite street/urban artists.
What is your background and how long have you been doing this professionally? (Not including defacing your sisters doll collection)
I’ve always had creative outlets of some sort. I’ve dabbled with life drawing, sculpture, digital 3D, and more seriously with web and graphic design, but creating slightly eery characters seems to be my forte. I’ve been doing it professionally for a couple of years now, although I still maintain a 9 to 5 day job.
Personally, I say stick with what you love. The eery characters are spot on. Bit of a gamer are you? What is your favorite Xbox game?
I’m a big Mass Effect fan and I’m currently making my way through Mass Effect 3, although I did take a break from gaming a while back because it’s a bit of a time sponge when I should be trying to get some work done.
If I may be so bold, I say that Bloggers and Artist are similar in that we spend long hours in front of a computer, working into the wee hours of the night. That being said, I know I have some guilty food pleasures. What is your favorite snack?
It changes, but right now I’m into Kit Kats. I’m not sure if these are an internationally known snack, but they should be.
Oh, yes, they are a global presence. Kit Kats are great but my chocolate choice is Junior Mints. Don’t even get me started on coffee ice cream! What is one of your most prized possessions?
I’d be gutted if anything happened my Mac, but that’s a bit obvious. After that, I’d say it has to be the anatomical model skull I bought from eBay for £30. It was a bargain.
I know that someone once labeled your work as “urban” and you scoffed at the comment. How would you classify your work?
I’ve got no problem with my work being labelled as such, as there are obviously very strong street/urban influences, but personally I’m not what you’d class as ‘urban’. For example, I’m sitting here typing this out, listening to Swedish folk music, then I’m going to catch up on some animé. I’m highly unlikely to go on a graffiti mission around the mean streets of Swansea.
Ok, so you aren’t going all Banksy on us. You have mentioned that artists like Hush, D*Face, Nick Walker and Miss Bugs all inspire you. What is it about their work that gets your creative juices flowing?
I can’t really put my finger on it. It’s maybe something to do with the way they use iconic imagery or often incorporate visual pop culture references into their work that captures my interest. Also, I like stuff that’s a bit messy.
Messy works for you. I’ve noticed some new items in your store, Hidden Moves. (Congrats, I’m already selling off stuff around my home to by things from there. I DESPERATELY need the Eye of the Tiger Variant print and perhaps a wall decal! ) What is going on with the store? How is it doing? What’s next for it?
I’m trying to expand slowly by working with some really great companies like MediaDevil.com who can take what I do and apply it to a product (in this case phone covers), creating something new and accessible. My work will definitely be available in more formats as time goes on.
Good to hear because my iPad is screaming for some Rhys Owens. What do you listen to when you are working?
I always have to have some background music when I work. Spotify’s perfect as it allows me to jump around from one musical genre to the next instead of repeating the same stuff from albums I’ve listened to a hundred times. I’m also a big fan of audio books when I really need to focus as they tend to occupy the part of my brain that likes to wander, which then lets the rest of my brain focus on the work at hand.
I agree, Spotify is amazing. You should check out We Are Hunted. It is a PHENOMENAL music resource. Looking forward to any movies this summer?
I just saw The Avengers (I’m a big Joss Whedon fan), and Prometheus looks pretty epic. I’m still not fully convinced by 3D cinema technology though.
I have seen The Avengers twice now and I can’t wait for the Blu-ray with all the extras. Joss did an exceptional job with multiple lead characters. He even managed to keep my 6 year old completely entertained for the 2 hours and 23 minutes. Prometheus looks like it is going to blow my mind. I can’t see it soon enough. Do you have any shows coming up?
I work extremely slowly. Whatever the opposite of prolific is, that’s the word to describe me (unproductive?), so no solo shows in the near future, but you may see my work pop up in a few places at some point.
How do you feel about “flippers”? You know, the fine folks that buy a limited edition print the day it goes on sale and then turn around and flip it on ebay for 3 times as much as they paid for it.
I feel like I’ve got to defend someone’s right to make money, but it’s not something I like seeing. I’d prefer a print goes to a real fan who would appreciate it without having to pay over the odds to obtain it.
AMEN! I’ve been burned on several occasions trying to get some Martin Ansin, Tom Whalen or Ken Taylor pieces and get so discouraged when it shows up within moments of it being sold out but at twice to three times the asking price. I’ve noticed that you have recently worked with Eyes on Walls and have stuff on sale over at Media Devil.com. Seems like you are really branching out. What is next?
I’ve got a few pieces available with GraffitiLab, plus I already work with Thisisalimitededition.com who provide limited edition artworks in various formats. Next, I’m hoping to make my t-shirts more readily available to customers in the US and Canada.
I’ll back THAT! I want that Mickey image on a tee! What is your studio/ creative space like or do you just work from a home office?
I’ve got a home office, although it’s an absolute mess. There’s been a trend over the last few years of designers and creative types posting pictures of their office spaces online. A lot of the time they’re minimalistic, stylish, and ultra-neat. Needless to say, I won’t be posting any photos of my workspace until it looks more like that and less like someone broke in and motor-boated the contents of my desk.
Ha-ha-ha… You should see MY desk. Total chaos and a constant annoyance of my wife. What’s on tap for you for the rest of this year? Any hints at what we can expect in 2013? That is, if the Mayans were wrong and the world ISN’T going to end at the end of this year.
I’m probably a little too relaxed when it comes to planning stuff, so nothing huge on the cards professionally, but I do want to play around with some different styles of illustration. Maybe I’ll throw a little paint around for my next piece. Stay tuned.
See what Rhys has going on over at the Hidden Moves Facebook page or on his Hidden Moves Twitter feed. While you are at it, go click the APPRECIATE THIS button over on his Behance page. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.