David Owen

I was born and raised in Leeds. At school I was good at Art and English.

When I left school, I discovered I had a weird fascination with advertising.

During the day, I worked for a number of different ad agencies, developing my graphic art skills – whilst after dark, I spent my time masterminding a fledgling indie band with a close friend.  

This band, The Hollow Men, released a number of indie singles before signing to a major label in the late 1980’s. We toured and played with The Stone Roses, Primal Scream, Texas, Suede and The Wonder Stuff. Alongside my role as singer songwriter in the band, I also designed all of the bands record sleeves, graphics and directed and produced all of the videos.

I left the band in a storm of sex, drugs and rock n roll in New York in the early nineties. I escaped to the English countryside, disillusioned with the music industry and my love of visual arts came back to the fore, becoming the main focus of my creative practise.

But my passion for music was soon rekindled when I was reminded of my inherent love for English traditional folk music. This, coinciding with a move to Whitby, has formed the basis of most of my creative work to date.

Since then I have appointed myself as a ‘one man advertising agency for folk music’ !

My current work is mainly focused on images of folk song, folk lore and popular culture.

A few of the projects which I have been associated with are outlined below.

2008 – The Seeds of Love exhibition at EFDSS, Cecil Sharp House, London.

2008 – I started exhibiting on site at the Cambridge Folk Festival and continued to do so for the next 5 years.

My work has appeared regularly in the pages of fROOTS magazine for the past 7 years.

2010 – I held a large scale exhibition, funded by the Arts Council, at London Southbank called ‘5000 Morris Dancers’ featuring a visual arts exhibition, music performances and morris dance teams from across the UK as well as the film premier for the “Way of The Morris” documentary.

2010 – I was commissioned  by The British Council to do the supporting graphics for the English Folk Expo concerts at SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas and to accompany them to the festival to work on the visual look of the showcase sessions.

2011 – I was invited to exhibit my work at The Sage, Gateshead during the Fiddles On Fire concert season.

I have designed record sleeves for Jim Moray, Eliza Carthy, Jackie Oates and Emily Portman.

I worked on the design and layout for the Marry Waterson book ‘Teach Me To Be a Summers Morning’ about her mother, Lal Waterson.

Other musicians and organisations I have done art and design projects with include : The Unthanks, Radio 2 Folk Awards, Folk Against Fascism, EEC Records, Folk Police Records, MusicPort Festival, Bampton Morris. The Gaslight Troubadours. The Longhill Ramblers.

Examples of my work are archived in the Vaughan Williams Library at Cecil Sharp House and also the Museum of British Folklore. I have a large scale piece of work “Seven Sisters” on permanent display in Cecil Sharp House.

For the last 8 years I have designed the graphics and merchandise for Sidmouth International Folk Festival.

I have a piece of work designed by myself in the Official Star Wars Museum in California.

My work has best been described as CHEERFULLY SUBVERSIVE.