We asked Birmingham-based illustrator Neale Osborne about his first contributions to Bridgeman Images - following a fruitful decade with Lebrecht Music + Arts …
Well, it was a little sad that the relationship with Lebrecht Music + Arts had to come to an end this year, as I got on very well with Elbie Lebrecht (the director who retired), and the library provided an unexpectedly valuable outlet for my work since they first accepted my contributions back in 2006. Lebrecht placed my illustrations with a whole range of clients who otherwise might not have used me, including, among many others, the Daily Mail, BBC Music Magazine, Vogue Italia and the Times Literary Supplement (who actually went on to commission some covers from me in the past few years too). I also sold one or two original pieces through them.
Well, now I’ve moved to Bridgeman Arts, and been accorded ‘contemporary artist’ status, I’m hoping things will continue smoothly, and these new caricatures were my way of starting this next phase in my career. I chose Jacques Tati and Billy Wilder simply because I’ve been watching a lot of vintage movies lately on DVD:
Wilder’s comedies I’ve always loved, whereas Tati’s films were new to me, and I was particularly impressed by the amazingly-designed ‘PlayTime’, and tried to reflect that in one of the caricatures, putting Tati against a geometric architectural backdrop (see below) which I improvised digitally from a photographic detail.
Frida Kahlo was another natural choice.
Not only is she visually striking, but there have been one or two programmes about Mexican art on TV recently - plus there’s a biopic about her by the wonderful Julie Taymor (who happened to direct my all-time favourite movie ‘Titus’ !) Also, I wanted to try something a little more complicated than a simple head-and-shoulders image, and in a couple of the caricatures, I was able to incorporate decorative elements from her own paintings.
As for ‘The Sirens’ - it was a 2002 picture (for a book project that eventually turned into my debut novel) that needed a digital makeover.
It was nice to see that classical influence on my work (flattened perspectives, figures in profile, decorative motifs etc.) in such an overt way, in this piece. In fact, my Jacques Tati picture (the one with the umbrella) probably wouldn’t look out of place on the side of a Greek vase either (!)