Simon Oxley is a British illustrator and designer who has been living in Fukuoka, Japan with his family since 1999. Simon’s keen desire to explore the word is well documented by his work which often has a tongue in cheek humour about it. His bold, hard hitting illustration style is charming in its simplicity and has been hugely popular in recent years. He is probably best known as ‘the man who created the twitter bird’ though his portfolio in its entirety is monumental.
istockphoto the commercial online image database, to which Simon is a prolific contributor, liked his work so much that they asked him to design a logo for their site too. Simon also produces designs for annual reports and web sites the likes of which include Mazda, KDDI, Kyocera, Sharp and Yamaha as well as for his long-term client Kato Yoshiaki san, of the global integrated communications company Imagination.
Q. In what way has animation from your childhood influenced your illustration?
A. Of course I used to watch all the British and American classics such as Scooby Doo, Mickey Mouse, Tom & Jerry, Muppets, Banana Splits, Battle of the Planets (French Japan collab) – I am not certain if animation directly influenced my style or ideas independently of other source material such as live action movies and any other broadcasts. As a teen I used to play Atari, Commodore 64 games as well as read comics like 2000AD Judge Dredd – copying the styles and illustrations contained in this and MAD magazine.
Q. How have your children influenced your work?
A. Children here in Japan are entertained by some really jaw dropping productions shown on the national channel NHK. To name a few: Dekoboko Friends, Anpanman, Ultraman, Quintet and programming which stimulates kids to think laterally and see the world around them in a fresh way. Visual puzzles, unusual styles which are very different when compared with the more literal presentation methods found in both the UK and the States. Each morning and evening I watch the shows my kids are enjoying and probably feed off of their enthusiasm – some of the ideas must provide some sort of influence for me in terms of attempting to present themes which are unusual while hanging from familiar reference points. Like all children, my two boys like to paint and draw, mold clay and construct cardboard models – I am made very aware of the childs simple desire to communicate a thought over stylistic concerns many adults are constrained by – this is their greatest influence on me. Q. Who is your greatest role model and why?
A. To name a single role model is impossible – I am intrigued by the life and works of Charles & Ray Eames – the breadth of their interest and all the overlaps between areas of design many like to divide into exclusive categories – Saul Bass, the late American graphic artist famous for a number of logos and film title sequences etc. such as ‘Cat on a hot tin roof’, Vertigo & The Man with the Golden Arm’. I was fortunate enough to attend a lecture by the man while attending art & design college in Bournemouth (UK) 1988 – The illustrations of H. A. Ray, famous for the Curious George story books, M. Sasek and the cities of the world series, Olle Eksell the Swedish Graphic Designer who created beautiful packaging and incredible animal abstractions and scenes i can view for a long while without losing interest. Theodor Seuss Geisel, commonly known as Dr Seuss – bestselling Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. Also, numerous adaptations of these stories for television specials, three feature films, and a Broadway musical.
Q. What is themost amusing professional position you’ve found yourself in?
A. My work is very serious.
Q. Do you think of diversifying- into film, sculpture or product design?
A. While my family is young it is about all I can do to maintain the illustrative focus – producing screen printed posters, postcards and other such materials – taking on contracts often requiring variations on characters I have already made – in the future I very much hope to work together with stimulating, curious minded people in any number of fields. For example, I would like to work my characters into 3D formats and together with sound and music present stories and scenarios in a fun, entertaining manner. Sculpting in modeling clay has always been an interest, although my efforts usually end up half made, cracked and cover it with a cloth… before my wife throws them away while my attention is diverted… humpf…..
Q. Having been quite involved with the internet and its services do you believe an online resource such as Pelime could revolutionize the way professionals operate in the future?
A. I believe platforms such as Pelime can offer creative minds an online common room – the design of the site drew me in initially – as did the broad range of categories which people can belong to – like everyone, i am not singularly interested in my own specialisation of graphic design and illustration – offering the service on an ‘invitation only’ basis is key also, since this gives a sense of manageability in an age where the internet often presents themes in an ‘everything to everyone free for all’.