Could Joe O’Donnell be the best new artist straight outta Milton Keynes? He may be now based in the creatively booming territory that is Manchester, sure, but we’re going to hedge our bets and go with a ‘Yes’.

Joe makes bright and clunky illustrations that try to find joy and humour in the mundane. His work, which varies from digital editorial illustration to animation, carries the charm of Teletext art or something made out of Binca canvas.

“I’ve been making art for as long as I can remember and working as an illustrator for about six years,” Joe tells us. “My style has developed out of my limited ability to draw, my limited understanding of vector graphics, and my personal need for some consistency from one piece to another. I try to find inspiration for the content of my work from things I find funny or interesting in my day-to-day life.”

“Recently I’ve been trying to force myself to do work away from a computer, or at least make work that isn’t entirely produced on a computer. I’ve spent a few years doing vector-based work and always wanted to find a way to translate my style of working into something physical. My digital work has always felt quite clunky and awkward, so it seems logical to have my rigid, flat pictures made out of rigid, flat material!”

Joe has turned to wood to scratch that creative itch. Even if it may be much more time-consuming and labour intensive than digital work, the artist enjoys the process of cutting and painting for its physical taxation. He finds it somewhat therapeutic, too.

“Having this different way of working has helped me keep up the momentum and keep producing work,” as he says. “It keeps me feeling energised to be able to switch between digital and non-digital work as and when I need to.”

Joe is proud of his wooden work, but when pressed on digital endeavours names his first New York Times commission as his career peak to date.

“To me, that felt like a dream come true. The brief was challenging, and I had to struggle with it to reach an outcome that both myself and the art director were happy with. The back-and-forth discussion of ideas and refining of sketches was a new process for me, and I found it really exciting to be working at such a quick pace. This was the first time I had worked so closely with an art director, and the experience definitely shaped how I have approached all my other commissions since then.”

Joe’s top priority at the moment is to make animations with a soundtrack of his own making, animating being something he’s dabbled in for a while.

“I’d love to work on a slightly bigger project involving sound. I also want to keep working in different mediums and expand my practice into new areas. Maybe I’ll learn to knit?”

We can see that working. Follow Joe O’Donnell on Instagram; but not on Teletext, sadly. Long live Teletext!

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