About Rowan Ottesen

Hello I'm Rowan, a Graphic Designer In London. A strong body of my work is type based, having even designed a typeface or two. Combining vector graphics, with illustration, image and shape, I diversely design anything from intricate patterns, to visuals and logos. I've also created two installation pieces, as well as being a lover of classic literature, writing short stories, as well as songs - having previously played shows with a band in London. I think the Gola Student Ambassador project is fantastic. It's a great opportunity to work with a well-known, respected brand, by displaying the rich artistic community nurtured in Britain. It's a chance to not only be creative, but to also collaborate with others in a positive and meaningful way.


Alper Dostal & Sylvia Moritz, a dynamic Austrian duo working under the pen name ‘UNKN‘ have teamed up again after previously collaborating on projects with the release of a short film discussing the idea of abstraction, focusing on the movement of ink on the human body. Having been featured for their previous work ‘Disappear’ on online art communities, which involved large scale psychedelic black and white pen drawings that filled an entire white room. Receiving praise from arts writer Sally O’Reilly, the pair are ‘sticking’ together with this messy but engaging performance art. 

“follow the track. step back. wear black. turn white by light. go dark if you like. transform by night. we pour. you take. you move. we pace. what once was black has now come back. you fear while hear. we shape we rape. we rinse we spin. you lose you win. you can’t deny. we identify.”

The ‘slick’ editing and contemporary production skill is immediately clear from Alper, incorporating a dramatised soundtrack that does the interesting footage justice – black and white ink, trickling over a professional model, performing under the watchful eye of Creative Director Sylvia Moritz. “Making a video like this it is important to have outgoing and like-minded collaborators to make it a reality”.

Josh Brill

1. Tell us about yourself, your artistic background.

My name is Josh Brill. I live in Portland, Maine. I am an artist, designer and creator of Lumadessa, an art label that explores the nature of the world with a modernist perspective.

My artistic background has been eclectic one, it began in art school, as a challenge to myself to learn as much about the different crafts of art to be an better artist. I studied cartooning, sculpture, painting, photography and graduated with a BFA in Graphic Design and New Media from Maine College of Art.

For six years, I worked as an interactive art director in advertising. I came to the realisation that I was helping build other people’s dreams, but not my own. So I left my agency job to develop what would become Lumadessa. Though it came about organically, there was no plan in mind, just to inspire people. I lined up a solo art show and made six large format (6’x3′) panoramic nature scenes. The work got great response from people, especially the pieces with birds in them. I learned a lot from the whole experience and a second series developed from it, one that focuses on the beauty of animals. Over time that series grew into so much more then I would have ever expected…my artwork being in homes around the world, licensing my art to develop product lines with other companies, like Element skateboards, or being commissioned by companies like Nike (Roger Federer) to do special projects for them.

2. Your depictions of animals are geometric, balanced, but striking. What designers or artists have influenced you and your style?

Thank you. My work is greatly inspired by mid 20th century graphic design (posters, book covers and brand design). Some people have asked me if Charley Harper was an inspiration of mine, because I make geometric animals. No he wasn’t, I didn’t discover his work till after I started getting into this. The artist that was most influential in getting me into my visual style is the cartoonist, Chris Ware. His heavily design-influenced illustration work opened my eyes to the world of graphic design. Both my design education and appreciation of Ware’s work led me to discover other designers that use illustration in their work. Some of my favourites then were Saul Bass, Reid Miles and the Russian constructivist poster designers.

3. Where do you source inspiration to design your animals – books? television? Internet? or perhaps even personal ‘wildlife’ trips?

I have many sources of inspiration from field guide books to different types media on the internet. Though my home state, Maine, is a great source of inspiration. It’s a place where I can see rocky coastlines, islands, marshes, lakes, rivers, forests and mountains within an hour from where I live in Portland. Whenever I need to recalibrate my perspective, I go on a trip—I like to take short trips to places like Mackworth Island, Ferry Beach and Fort Williams Park, because it gives me enough time to get back into the studio to make artwork.

4. You said you were working on some new work, do you mind telling us about it?

Yes, I just released prints of an Anna’s hummingbird, Costa’s hummingbird and a Belted Kingfisher. These new pieces accompany the return of Flora Fauna: Birds collection. This was my first collection for Lumadessa and it’s now out of print. I’m currently working on a new series. I can’t tell you what it is — it’s a secret for now, but it’s in the experimental learning phase, and I’m developing the conceptual framework for it. The goal of the series is to expand the world of Lumadessa both creatively and thematically by incorporating other interests of mine, such as culture, cartography, architecture, travel and poster design.

5. What is your favourite animal!

That, my friend is the most unanswerable question of all (laugher). The more I learn about them, the bigger that favourites list grows. It’s usually the animal design I’m currently working on. Lately, my favourites are different types monkeys and apes.

1% of profits from Josh Brill’s work are donated to Animal and Environmental charities. To see more and to purchase copies click here. 

Posted in Art

Blue Hawaii

Canada’s Montreal, the area for blossoming musicians, has yet again sprung more boundary pushing talent. Following in the footsteps of the likes of Grimes, the electronic couple ‘Blue Hawaii’, signed to Arbutus, are back together with ‘Untogether’.

The album, a cave of dark echoey mood swings and hidden treasures, was written after the duo, consisting of Raphaelle Standell-Preston and Alex ‘Agor’ Cowan, spent almost a year away from each other. A lot of time was spent writing at night, creating chord progressions amongst early hours. It shows. Throughout, the album feels like a soundtrack to a midnight walk in the park. It’s clear the synth parts have been thought out to a great degree by Cowan, shadowing every flex in Standell-Preston’s voice – but to such restraint that while it may be atmospheric, in places the LP is transient be it for better or worse.

Try To Be is the brightest of lights on the album. A stand out. It’s a level of catchiness that lifts your head up to see where it’s coming from after a long day at work, with arpeggio harmonies and totally entrancing loops that keep you intertwined with the eerie, delicate magic at play.

Currently organising a tour, Blue Hawaii are bubbling under the surface, armed with a proliferating catalogue of emotionally driven songs that will not only move you – but make you move.


Brock Davis

“Make work that people want to talk about and have fun doing it.” Take a moment and question how many of us would eat a banana, and instead of throwing away the skin, think that it could be turned into a piece of art? And how many of us picture a muscle car, a toy muscle car, ramping into the air, over a piece of cake? Well ‘Tumblr’ sensation Brock Davis is doing an impressive job of finding creativity in uncreative places; and in doing so, has aquired a whole host of followers and built an impressive client list. All from simply making a few clever observations, and realising his sometimes weird & wonderful ideas.

Based in Minneapolis, the photographer / designer / modelmaker / everything-else’s twists on the everyday, ranging from a ‘Cucumber Killer Whale’ to a ‘Cauliflower Treehouse’ have caught the eye of hundreds of thousands and set a trend for a generation of low-fi artists. It’s the kind of craft that makes you sit back and think ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’

The lack of text in his work and pure dependance on image allows the work to be appreciated by any age group; and without language barriers, the work has a universal appeal, which could contribute to his world wide web success. The intuition and craft of Brock Davis really must be applauded. His specialty lies in making the small big and the missable unmissable, but simultaneously the work is comical. Something so realistic and accessible as is the medium of food allows us to relate to the work and understand it instantaneously. It’s good clean fun at it’s best.



Lisan Ly

“It could be autumn leaves in a park, reflections in a lake or walking past a skyscraper. I believe beauty can exist anywhere, when you look.” The unmissable Lisan Ly and her global explorations are the foundation for similarly global ambitions. Flying the flag – or should I say flying her scarf designs – proudly in the air for all to see. One would perhaps need an atlas to explain the sources of inspiration behind the beauteous creations of the British born designer. Malaysia and Thailand are a few of the many pins in her map.

Lisan painted a picture for me, describing how ‘temple tiles, vibrant florals and beautiful insects’ played a role in shaping her explosive colour pallete. Chinese and Vietnamese heritage are another ingredient confidently stitched into the surfaces designs of the London College of Communication graduate, who makes reference to England’s Kew Gardens and Japanese kimonos as research points for the delicately balanced designs of her impressive debut October 2012 collection. “I absolutely love travelling and try to see as much of the world as I can. It’s an amazing source of creative inspiration.”

Lisan’s work displays a considerable level of technical excellence, perhaps stemming from previous studies at Kingston University; not in design, but computing. To this day innovative techniques and quality craftsmanship such as (deep breath) hand illustration, computer aided design, screen printing, pattern cutting, laser cutting and embroidery, all contribute to the elegance. Much labour and attention to detail has been woven into the fibres of this ‘wearable art.’ There is certainly much more than meets the eye.

Making reference to two of my favorite words – ‘organized chaos’, Lisan explains how her creations “aim to reflect beauty in the world and embody the simple pleasures in life” and I think she is successful in her intentions. Her luxurious but playful designs breath a level of sophistication that would make a perfect gift for the perfect woman. Lisan has great admiration for the likes of Alexander McQueen, Yohji yamamoto, Elie Saab and the prints of Basso & Brooke, Erdem and Peter Pilotto – but keep your eye on the catwalks, and listen out for the alliterate brand name – ‘Lisan Ly’ that will hopefully one day stand alongside the work of such well-known designers.

Sylvia Moritz

Sylvia Moritz has never strayed from artistic disciplines, having studied Graphic Communication from an early age at Die Graphische in Vienna. Encouraged by her college tutors to cross borders, the multi-media artist and designer flew the nest at 19 en route to America. Here she discovered a lot about herself and her discipline, studying Illustration in Boston, and partaking in a six-month printmaking course in San Francisco.

On the back of a range of practical and industrial skills acquired from her travels, Sylvia enrolled at the University of the Arts London. In 2012, she found herself back in America on an erasmus exchange programme, this time showing The Big Apple what she was made of, in a six-month intensive at The Parsons New School for Design. She made the most of state of the art facilities, gaining advanced knowledge in branding and packaging design from peers such as Lance Wyman (Mexico ’68) as well as honing her illustrative expertise, mentored by reportage fanatic Veronica Lawlor.

The Austrian is an advocate of both the use of traditional and digital techniques that work hand-in-hand with one another, and such an ideal is conveyed in a lot of her work. Observations of Moritz’s surroundings play a vital role in shaping the direction of her practice. Usually with underlying environmentalist attitudes, her stunning mark-making qualities display a meticulous attention to detail and an enviable dedication to the creative arts. She continues to develop her style and relentlessly pushes herself to improve with every project she participates in. And the hard work has paid off, recently winning a Best of Year award with the D&AD for a project with the V&A.

Sylvia must be congratulated on her immaculate level of craft, her delicately balanced tone and liberating colour combinations. In the main image we capture an insight into her exotic amalgamation of geometric elements that satisfy the eye hypnotically – a feat of technical excellence comparable to that of the late and respected Escher. One can only hope that Sylvia continues to lead us on inspiring journeys through her labyrinthian creations. I have full confidence that she will.




Robert Manning

After departing from a Graphic Design career in favor of a love of music production, it’s clear that Robert Manning has still got a creative flair when it comes to illustration. This multi-talented creative loves anything that allows him to express himself. What started out as just fun has turned into an obsession of his, after buying various pens, inks, and watercolours to help create his ‘unfinished’ portraits. The amount of work that has gone in to these seemingly photorealistic pieces is just staggering.

Here we see the famous film star Bill Murray, as well as other beautiful and recognisable faces, depicted in stunning accuracy using an inventive colour palette and envying illustrative style, that somehow seems to come extremely naturally to Manning, who, has always stated that it was just a hobby (Studying music production at Kingston university is currently his main focus, as well as utilising his talents on an impressive collection of bass guitars). However the amount of attention that the portraits garner on social media websites suggests it could be a full-time occupation one day, if the multi-disciplinary can find the time.

‘Unfinished’ is usually a word associated with poor-quality work, but here we see the effect that an unfinished work can have on us, adding another layer of interest and meaning, taking them more into the conceptual fine-art realm.

There’s a real buzz about his work, and it’s clear to see why. With demands for prints of Robert Manning’s work, it would be easy for him, like so many others who decide to ‘sell out’, to profit from his creativity. However he has stayed true to himself by not replicating his work, instead deciding to use his work as promotional gifts to continue to gradually build an internet presence. I myself am even lucky enough to have an original of his work on my living room wall.

Joss Ryan

“I enjoyed listening to the music that made me want to run upstairs and lay some ideas down.” Joss Ryan explains to me how a wide variety of musical influences at a young age have helped him grow into a self-taught musician. But for the East London DJ and Producer, there was always more on the musical horizon, and his explorations through sound have given him a more refined set of influences. Jazz, Grime, and Soul have played integral roles in shaping Ryan, and it shows in his latest E.P. entitled ‘Blaze Blu’ (Relseased on DVA music).

It’s difficult to categorise the music into a genre, and for good reason. Ryan’s studies of Audio Engineering at the London School of Sound, combined with his five years of production experience have allowed him to conjure a natural ability to intertwine contrasting genres and triumph where others fail in making it sound balanced and effective. In ‘Modesty’ thick Jazz brass introduces a progressive instrumental that evolves into a melodic synth-fest, complete with shuffling piano a soaring string crescendo. Undertones of modern oriental vibe are also apparent, perhaps a throwback to Ryan’s passion for orchestral music in video games such as the Final Fantasy series.

Ryan makes no secret of his desire to develop a sound he “can call his own”, he is constantly reinventing himself to stay fresh. Noting the limitations of playing at clubs, Ryan treads through the dense wilderness of the world of music to discover instruments that he carries with him through all of his productions, gradually scultping a DNA pattern that formulates his sound. ‘Blaze Blu’s’ title track, with it’s anticipatory bellow and pulsating brass, boldly embodies Joss Ryan’s intention to not just push the boundaries, but to attempt to draw new boundaries of his own. “I think to play at a festival like outlook or dimensions is the dream right now, and to develop a ‘live show’ to perform.” Having played at Cable and clubs in the Dalston/Shoreditch area, fans of experimental electronica would be wise to listen out for this highly ambitious artist. 

Listen to his music on soundcloud here

Photography by Jamie Kendrick

Emma Jacobs

“I’m in love with processes, techniques and finishes, and hopefully try to execute all the work in a sophisticated way.” Emma Jacobs invites me into the tactile world of textile design, sharing her projects and an insight into their production. Home & Away (Image 1) is a collection of eight head-masks. Described by Jacobs as “beautiful and strange” these pieces are created using ceramic. Despite being an “alien” choice of material for the Chelsea College of Art & Design student, Jacobs summer research of caves in Ireland had “Unearthly” qualities that she felt would translate well to ceramic.

“The fact that I knew very little about this type of practice, helped to create something unusual and experimental. I have found that often the best pieces of work are the spontaneous ones, and sometimes having an outcome in your head can stop you from experimenting, and experimenting was exactly what I wanted to achieve in this project.”

Flexibility & Connections (Images 2 + 3) came into being after researching numerous materials, colour palettes, surfaces and textures, all with the idea of upcycling and sustainability in mind. After dismantling found car seats from a scrapyard, Jacobs discovered “great shapes” that formed the basis for a garment. “The material in parts already had some beautiful naturally occuring features, like sun bleaching and wear and tear from use … I tried out a lot of different spraying techniques onto the material, foiling techniques, engraving  and embroidery, all the help give the material texture.” Despite working with peculiar materials, Jacobs manages to refine the objects into elegant and very ornate objects, that are a treat to the eye.

Jacobs talks highly of mixed-media book maker Anselm Keifer as an inspiration of hers, but she also references her upbringing in South East Kent as a big influence on her practice. It’s clear her father’s occupation as a builder has informed her robust choice of materials, whilst her fascination with wild animals stems from the rural surroundings. “I love Polly Morgans work, a modern day taxidermist who does the most bizare things with birds and mice and foxes. It is actually somthing that I would really love to try myself very soon.” 

Emma aims to take her work to new heights with intentions to collaborate with a design team specialising in one off couture garments, or jewellery, with ambitions to even crossover into interiors, textiles for furniture, and sculpture.

Ximena Escobar – Silk Scarves

Ximena Escobar grew up in the valley city of Medellin, Colombia. An almost magical part of the country surrounded by mountains and mist, as well as a rich tropical biodiversity, all of which having a large influence on her vibrant colour palette and style. “Nature to me, means life, the living, the wild, the organic and fertile. It gives me joy, inspires my curiosity and nurtures my femininity and self discovery.”

Drawn to colours and shapes at an early age, she fell in love with London, and Escobar began her professional creative life surprisingly as a graphic designer. Escobar gradually realised a way to apply her designs to different textiles, to help enhance her expressive illustrative style. “I am interested in challenging illustration with different materials and applying narratives to the repeat pattern.” She arrived at CSM to help realise these ambitions.

Ximena’s main inspiration is the relationship between women and nature. She worked on numerous illustrative projects for over six years, before returning for a masters at Camberwell College of Art, University of the Arts, London, in illustration – to “add story” to her designs.

She has a cross-over of ideals. Her main passions are coupled together under the word – Ecofeminism. Which is the combination of two themes, women, and nature. With an great grandmother who was a passionate orchid collector, the influences are crystal clear in her work. Ximena Escobar is constantly working with new materials, currently creating designs for t-shirts. She will like to soon work on a bigger scale, collaborate with others, and also has solo exhibitions planned in July & November.

“A perfect day here would be to wake up and have breakfast on the balcony with my boyfriend and the cats, then go to the studio and work for while, have coffee or a drink with friends- colleagues and then go out to my favourite bar”. 



Frances Szweda

“Clicking play on a screen does the job but there’s nothing like the anticipation of owning, opening and listening to music…” Who can argue with that? Milton Keynes’ Frances Szweda has conveyed her advocacy for the ‘survival of vinyl’ by creating this series of creative sleeves. Focusing on the Mercury Prize 2012 Nominess as a case study for the project, the London College of Communication Illustration student highlights the shift towards digital purchasing of audio, that relentlessly steers away from the traditional forms of tangible music packaging that arguably helped define the musics intentions in a visual format.

The beauty of album art can be lost in the blurry rush of increased download speeds and the general digitised lust for more music in ever-expanding quantities. Szweda strikes a more serious tone in an otherwise fruitful and humorous portfolio by challenging the vinyl format. Misconceived as archaic or lacking contemporary, her project, entitled ‘A Case For Vinyl’ aimed to utilize the Mercury prize’s popularity as an anchor to convey the “lost appeal of owning a physical object.”

In-keeping with the uplifting attitudes of institutions such as Rough Trade Records, Frances’ work reaffirms our shared attitudes towards keeping the colourful world of music spinning, and highlighting the desire for vinyl to continue with spinning with it.




Victoria Horkan

Victoria Horkan is a fine artist based in Leeds. Studying an MA in textiles at Huddersfield University allowed her to explore the usage of different mediums. Her creations combine a staggering attention to detail with vibrant and passionate colouring, producing eye-catching work that is impossible not to notice.

‘Victoria’s work offers a bold, vibrant and expressive milieu of forms and colours that falls somewhere between the realms of impressionism, abstraction and expressionism. Taking inspiration from the natural world, her paintings make reference to creatures from the sky and sea.’ – Victoria’s Statement.

There is a great deal of life and freedom to the work, with a somehow calming effect, without the restraint of artistic intensity. A youthful energy encourages to viewer to move, to engage with the enchanting visual story being told and discover more.

In ‘Fragments’ (Image 1) we see hundreds of shards of photographs, freely yet intricately layered over oil paints, creating a mesmerising assortment of visuals that stay in the mind. ‘Masterpiece’ is no doubt a word that is often used to describe artworks that perhaps do not reach the criteria, but in this case, Victoria Horkan’s work is an exemplary example of a masterpiece. It would be hard to argue with the impeccable level of talent that this artist has.

Exhibited in London, Leeds, Belfast and Edinburgh and with clients in America, Italy, Dubai and Abu Dhabi – Victoria Horkan, like a butterfly, is fluttering to the top of the fine art world.