Entrepreneur – Oliver Jeffers

From: USA

Studied: BA Visual Communications

UK institution: Ulster University

From directing music videos for U2 to exhibiting at the National Portrait Gallery, Oliver Jeffers’ career has been nothing short of a resounding success. 

SO OLIVER, WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN?

Coming of age in a culture that recognized the importance of its rich literary and artistic history was seminal to my education.

My time at Ulster is where I was first introduced to the likes of Kate Greenaway, Basil Blackshaw, Lucien Freud and Francis Bacon, and these figures have remained influential throughout my career.

Moreover, my university was the place where I began many of the artistic explorations that I still investigate today.

HOW DID YOUR STUDIES HELP TO SHAPE THE WORK YOU’RE MAKING NOW THEN?

Most of my paintings in college were concerned with the visual relationship between words and pictures. My final project was to develop one of these works into a full narrative, the result of which became my debut book, ‘How to Catch a Star’. My current painting projects also have their roots in my collegiate work; my time painting the North Antrim coast was integral to my development as a painter and my current ‘Measuring Land and Sea’ series.

YOU’VE HAD A HUGE AMOUNT OF INTERNATIONAL SUCCESS IN YOUR CAREER. WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR GREATEST MOMENTS?

My fine art projects have been internationally exhibited at institutions including the National Portrait Gallery, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Irish Museum of Modern Art. As an award winning illustrator I’ve authored 14 books, and my second book ‘Lost and Found’ was developed into an animated short by Studio AKA, which received over sixty awards including a BAFTA for Best Animated Short Film. In 2013, I co-directed the music video and lyric video for U2’s Grammy award winning single 'Ordinary Love'.

IS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU ARE PARTICULARLY PROUD OF?

My picture books have been translated into 36 languages, which is incredible to think about. I am honoured to be the recipient of the Hay Medal for ‘Outstanding Body of Work’, the Irish Book Awards ‘Children’s Book of the Year’, and also the Blue Peter Book of the Year. I’ve paired with incredible organisations over time such as the Imagination Library which works to get thousands of free books into the hands of children who need them most. 

AND FINALLY, ANY NEW PROJECTS ON THE HORIZON?

My latest project will be launching my own ethically produced merchandising at the renowned French department store, Colette. So, keep your eye out!

Oliver Jeffers was the winner of the Study UK Alumni Award for Professional Achievement, USA 2017.

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