You might’ve noticed some housekeeping around the Olivers brand lately. We’ve got an energetic new logo, a splash of bold red popping up here and there and then there’s this guy. Everyone, we’d like to introduce Ollie. You might start seeing him around these parts now and then.
You see, we tend to take things seriously. We’re a brand that focuses on the details, sweats all the small stuff and as a team, we’re constantly pushing ourselves at work, at life and in our downtime - much like the guys who wear Olivers gear.
So we thought it was high time to bring in a little fun. A mischievous rascal who can cause a little trouble, make some waves and serve as a de facto mascot of sorts. Does he look a bit like our founder, David? Perhaps. (Though he might deny that.) To learn a bit more about him, I rang up the man behind Ollie - French illustrator Jean-Michel Tixier. Working from his studio in the heart of Paris, Tixier’s illustrations encapsulate the traditional French “ligne claire” style and his lively characters feel like they’ve leapt from the pages of vintage Tintin comics, right into the modern day.
Tell us more about your drawing style.
It basically translates to “clear line” style. This means to use a line with a uniform thickness and solid colors - so not many details are present to interfere with the subjects or environments. And this allows for a drawing you can read at the first sight. My particular affinity is to draw elegant people in absurd, and borderline embarrassing situations. I like the contrast of combining these seemingly classic characters into these classic situations, but when juxtaposed with these more shocking details…the possibilities are endless.
How did you bring Ollie to life?
While working on a project, half of my time is spent researching ideas. It’s really the most important step of my work. I think most artists do this to some extent, but I write small stories of what I want to bring out in the drawing - including all the details about the character or situation I’m about to illustrate.
After this step, I make some quick sketches on paper. From there I can ink it and add colors and details. I particularly like working on the iPad for this step, but for personal projects I still prefer to work on paper.
What was your inspiration for Ollie?
Since I always start with the research of an absurd situation, or something you can’t do in reality, I wanted to take the idea of “a man with a bike” into a situation that wasn’t so normal. So he’s not necessarily riding a bike in the way we know how to ride a bike, but for Ollie, it works! He is elegant, with just the right mix of smart and absurd.
Did you get Ollie right on the first try?
Honestly, it started out a little differently. I first made versions with a man lying on his bike, as if he were sitting on a comfortable armchair with his dog following him on a skateboard. Another test showed the man in more of an action pose, standing on the bike. Those initial two versions weren’t hitting on the notes of being elegant and mischievous enough though. But it was a good exercise in discovering the personality behind Ollie. In general, I prefer a static situation versus an action. It’s a more theatrical moment to capture and really allows a moment to pause with the character.
I love that mischievous quality. There’s a little danger to him and it sounds like that was intentional?
Yes, you’re absolutely right. It seems to be a normal situation for him, but not for us. He’s completely unbothered. I like this aspect of it and you can find similar attitudes in a lot of my drawings.
* Quick Fire with Ollie, Himself
- Favorite Olivers item: The Convoy Tee
- Currently watching: The Boys
- Summer reading: How to Lose Friends and Alienate People
- Drink of choice: Ranch Water
- Never leave home without: My ball cap, and something to chew on
Portrait credit: https://ideat.thegoodhub.com/2019/01/29/interview-jean-michel-tixier-dresse-le-portrait-des-parisiens-pour-maison-fragile/