If there’s anything from today’s youth that’s worth getting excited about, it’s the work of London-based artist Margot Bowman. Barely in her final year of BA Graphic Design at Central St. Martins, Bowman has already been commissioned by various top magazines, created exclusive in-store artwork for Urban Outfitters and done live fashion illustrations during London Fashion Week for Topshop, whilst also producing an extensive personal portfolio. With a unique artistic approach, incredible imagination and abundance of optimism, Bowman is steadfastly making a name for herself on the London art scene.
“I have a lot to thank Kate Moross for,” Bowman explains of the prolific designer and illustrator, “as she was the one who told me to get my illustrations out there. She said ‘Margot, people empathise with your drawings, it excites them and they really like it, you need to be brave enough to go for it.’” That was two years ago and since then Bowman has never looked back, creating a distinct signature style for herself which carries across her illustrations, digital and screen prints, large-scale paintings, product and clothing designs, and most famously her quirky animated GIFs. These have charmingly presented the season’s best catwalk collections as well as a range of events that have inspired her: including the recent Dazed Live talks and Jefferson Hack’s chat with R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe'. Here the rising talent shares her vision and thoughts with Dazed Digital...
Dazed Digital: Although a lot of you work is illustration based, you also create a range of multi-disciplinary pieces – how would you describe what you do?
Margot Bowman: Basically, I just do Margot Bowman. For me, I really like learning, so getting my head around a new medium is exciting. You learn lots of different languages, lots of different visual languages and it’s exciting to see how your skills are transferable. I think graphic design teaches you that your medium is really important and by always subverting that and changing the medium up you get really unexpected results.
DD: Who inspires you?
Margot Bowman: Yohji Yamamoto, Rei Kawakubo, John Baldessari, Picasso, Wolfgang Tillmans, Tim Burton and KAWS – all incredible role models, with inspiring ethos and approaches to their work.
DD: Do you have a work mantra?
Margot Bowman: Learning to fail and being really open to things.
DD: Please describe what inspired this exclusive piece for Dazed Digital and its underlying narrative?
Margot Bowman: I was exploring this complexity: the girl in the middle is only worrying about whether she looks good and all these characters that exist around her are different emotional states – pain, joy and so on. Is she ignoring them? And is this detrimental to her?
I also wanted to do what I do digitally, physically. They are hand pencil drawings on cartridge paper that are cut out and then stuck onto translucent blue acetate, with the other parts made out of an incredible hologram paper I sourced. It’s large scale and really beautiful and ideally I wanted to shoot it on a big window with light coming through it. I want to do more like these.
DD: This piece and many of your others have intriguing titles – please explain how you name them?
Margot Bowman: I think headlines are really important; this one was obviously inspired by that White Stripes song. The way you title something is just as important as the piece and it also adds this whole other dimension to the narrative.
DD: Which has been your favourite commission so far?
Margot Bowman: I love them all differently; they’re like my little kids. Topshop was really exciting because no one had ever made GIFs before based on catwalk shows. Everyone’s got a digital camera at the moment so it’s nice to contrast that with an interpretation and also give less information. It’s not about being the first anymore it’s about how well and how effectively you can interact with that media or that information. That’s what I’m always trying to do, edit out the best parts and best experiences.
DD: That leads us on perfectly to your recent illustrations of Jefferson Hack in conversation with Michael Stipe and the Dazed Live Alejandro Jodorowsky talk?
Margot Bowman: They are such amazing experiences: to hear two really great people talk about something great – it beats a million years of reading books. After Holy Mountain at Shoreditch Church I felt tingly. For me being able to share some of that moment and reinterpret it in my own way through a GIF is great.
DD: What are you working on at the moment?
Margot Bowman: At the moment I’m working on my final major project. This stemmed from my dissertation, on mythology in a world of electronic media, looking at how the digital environment is affecting the human condition and our emotional state. I don’t want to reveal too much but naturally I will be making things with my hands, and this time I’ll also be working with a photographer classmate of mine.
DD: And after you graduate?
Margot Bowman: I’m going to start my own business – continuing with what I’m doing now – looking at ways that I can apply my illustration to lots of different things and collaborating. There’s this phrase, “It’s not about the world of design it’s about designing the world.” So let’s just go for it!