Oliver Kemp Illustration & Graphics

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I'm an illustrator, graphic artist & character designer based in South East London. Available for freelance and contract work.

Crofton Park, London, SE4, England
+44 (0)77208 474 29
ghosts and goblins screenshot

Of ghosts, goblins & dinosaurs

First I’d like to thank you for taking the time to visit my brand new website. I am excited to finally be sharing it with the world, whilst also exhibiting some of my very latest pieces of work. If you would like to learn more about my services or have any questions, head to the contact me page, and I’ll be right in touch.

I will be using this blog to bring you news of new projects, offer some design tips and generally talk about the things I love. As this is my very first blog post, I thought I would take the opportunity to introduce myself and explain a little more about what I do and how my style has taken shape over the years.

Ghosts and Goblins

I was brought up in the countryside of sleepy Suffolk, where not much happens and not a great deal ever changes. This meant as children, we would have to use our imaginations and get creative, lest the dreaded boredom set in.

Luckily from a very young age I always seemed to have a natural flare for drawing and an early obsession with dinosaurs. This combination kept me busy for untold hours, taking the first steps in my craft. It was my mission to memorise every type of dinosaur and be able to draw each one from memory. It was almost impossible to separate me from my drawing pad!

Luckily another product of the 80’s were amazing cartoons. The likes of Ghost Busters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Jase & The Wheeled Warriors and Ulysses dominated afternoon television screens and absolutely hypnotised me. I fell in love with the medium of animation from a very young age. I was producing more drawings, scribbles and characters than ever before.

Also video games were quickly becoming a thing, and I was obviously eager to get on board. The day my dad went to pick up my Commadore 64 was perhaps the greatest day of my life. I will never forget sitting down and playing Ghosts and Goblins for the first time. It was a truly magical experience. The poor graphics just heightened the experience in a way, as I had to use my imagination to fill in the blanks.

I would finish playing and then sit down with my pens and crayons to design more side-scrolling levels, bosses and enemies. So as you can probably tell, I was hardly ever bored, quite the contrary, I was in my element.

This was just the beginning of a life-long love and hobby for me. After working through hundreds of Commadore 64 game cassettes and spending a considerable amount of hours watching hypnotic loading screens, I finally upgraded to the mighty Mega Drive (I was a definite Sega kid!) Which brought a wave of stunning 16 bit games from Japan like Sonic, Streets of Rage, Shinobi and a slew of incredible rock-hard side scrolling shoot ’em ups, that I prided myself on beating.

I once again found my creative brain entranced by these bold colourful and fresh designs, as did millions of other children all around the world. Whether you were Sega or Nintendo, it was a golden age for gaming and inspired an entire generation, not least of all, my good self.

I think I’m turning Japanese

It was at some point during 1994 at a friend’s birthday party that I first discovered manga (or anime as it is rightfully called these days.) My friend Lewis told us that his dad had got him one of those ’18 rated Japanese cartoons’ we had started to see kicking around Woolworths.

It turned out that cartoon was the classic Patlabor by Mamaru Oshii who would go on to direct the legendary Ghost In the Shell. This was perhaps looking back, one of the most pivotal days of my life; The story telling was so rich and adult, the design was so exotic and fascinating, it boggled my mind, and on top of that, the artistry was beautiful, unlike anything I had seen before.

Patlabor, mamori Oshii

Feeling rabidly inspired, I sought out every Manga video release I could, from the mighty Akira to the more obscure Devil Man.

An intense period of endless inspiration and creativity followed, I was hypnotised by Japanese culture as a whole. I researched everything I could and started writing my own manga and comics. As an enterprising young artist, I began selling these comics at school, to children who perhaps had a little more pocket money than the rest.

This, coupled with my love for video games continued throughout my teens, I designed characters for early PC RPG’s and basic point & click adventures with friends. After discovering rock and metal I began distributing my comics at the local rock club in Bury St Edmunds and quickly my reputation as an artist around the town grew. I did work for local bands, producing flyers, logo’s and even the odd tattoo design.

From London to Istanbul

After successfully finishing my studies in media production and graphic design, my other great love – music, ended up helplessly summoning me and my girlfriend of the time to London.

I went on to work for a major publishing company called Future Science Group who published a range of medical journals and magazines that had begun their life as EMAP titles. I was busy creating book covers, drawing medical diagrams and creating images of bugs, blood cells and proteins. I also supported the marketing department, creating advertising, brochures and digital content for their various websites.

My love for anime, video gaming and all things Japanese remained strong, but living in London, I was exposed to a whole new wave of art styles such as urban graffiti art, American Kustom Kulture, vinyl and tattoo art. I discovered a whole slew of artists such as Junko Mizuno, Sylvia Ji, Charles Burns & Camille Rose Garcia, who combine beautiful striking colour with morbid, dark tones.

In 2011 I took some time out to satisfy one of my other ambitions; To travel around India, working my way from Goa in the South, to the foothills of the Himalayas in the far north. India, unlike anywhere else in the world provides a daily feast for the eyes and the senses, I filled my note book with sketches during long train and particularly gruelling bus journeys.

Before heading back to the UK, I decided to spend some time living in Istanbul, I had heard stories about its beauty and in particular, the burgeoning street art scene there. The stories were not wrong; The district of Kadikoy was a hive of colour and graffiti, covering whole buildings and streets in numerous eye-melting designs, that attract talent from all over the world.

Kadikoy graffiti

I met many local artists and spent days investigating and photographing all the work I could find. To discover such bold expression in such an old and traditional city was quite remarkable and unforgettable inspiration. I maintain good relationships with many Kadikoy artists today.

I came back to London with an entirely new lease of energy and began to work hard on my artwork, taking up freelance commissions whilst working full time as a graphic designer in Westminster. During this extremely busy time, I did a lot of design work in branding and creative direction on a number of big web projects.

I built my first online portfolio in 2013 which would eventually bring my work to the attention of a number of musicians, events organisers and video games developers. After working at a busy health and fitness magazine as a design & digital content manager, I took a contract to work at the amazing charity Action Against Hunger in Greenwich. Here I worked on their new branding, helped oversee their web refresh project and held small design training seminars with staff, which was incredibly fulfilling.

I have since worked on a number of exciting video game design projects, including Flymageddon from debut studio Rusty Tiger, which is currently in development for a 2018 release on the Steam network. You can see some of my designs for the game in my portfolio, so please take a look if you haven’t already!

This portfolio site, and my work included within, is the result of years of work and inspiration taken from a number of passions I’ve had ever since childhood. I think you can see each them present in the work I do. From early 90’s cartoons and video games to the works of vibrant modern street artists in far off lands.

I hope telling you a little of my story helps you understand my style and what I do. I am looking for all kinds of work, and would be happy to hear from you, so please click here to get in touch if you like to contact me.

Many thanks,

Oliver

Comments: 2
  • Daniel Potter May 7, 2017 4:12 pm

    Cool bruh! Love it

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