Homegirl London pays homage to Rory Dobner. He specialises in unique, hand drawn, intricately detailed ink drawings of animals – pretty standard and normal you might think. But think again – these animals are depicted enjoying a mischievous, eccentric pursuit which is sheer fantasy and exquisitely eccentric; Cheshire the cat wears an eye monocle, a gold fish is seen smoking and a Gecko holds a cup cake – totally bizarre but beautiful. These imaginative drawings are sold as pictures – all of which are hand-drawn. They also adorn a range of home wares including ceramic tiles, fine bone china mugs, plates, candles, paperweights, bottle stoppers, notebooks, cushions and rugs. I caught up with Rory to ask a few questions …
Q: Tell me how you became interested in drawing / design.
A: Since I was old enough to hold a pen I have been scribbling. It’s just little bit more refined now. I used to collect sticks on the beach as soon as I could toddle and piled them up which evolved in to the sculptures I now create from wire.
Q: Where did you study?
A: I studied Fine Art foundation at Chelsea School of Art & Design before obtaining a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours), at Central St. Martin’s School of Art & Design. In 1998 I was awarded the prestigious title of Burns Young Artist of the Year.
Q: Your drawings are eccentric – are you eccentric?
A: I always think who wants to be normal? What is normal anyway? I suppose relatively eccentric and hopefully more so as I get older when you can get away with even more naughtiness – that will definitely be something to look forward to.
Q: How did you come up with the idea of drawing animals enjoying surprising pursuits?
A: I have a penchant for taxidermy … every little character has a name that makes up the menagerie that surrounds me in my studio. Their characters come through in their history, poses, how I acquired them, if they are dressed and how people respond to them. I have Albert The Duck, Henry Hare, Hedwig Owl, George The Stag … the list goes on and on and on. Always on the new look out for new team members. These creatures along with other treasures in my home and studio along with my partner’s vivid imagination mean there are literally millions of ideas of what to draw … my problem is simply finding enough time to draw them all.
Q: Did you have any pets when you were growing up and do you have any now?
A: I grew up by the beach and was sent away at an early age to boarding school so no pets. My youngest son Huxley sneezes every time something furry wanders by so flummoxed again on the pet front hence why I have amassed such a large taxidermy collection as he doesn’t react to them.
Q: Where can people view your products? Clients are always welcome to come to my studio in Hampstead NW3 anytime or via my website www.rorydobner.com. Alternatively Liberty carries my full range in the store through the various floors.
Q: Tell me about bespoke services you offer and your interior design commissions.
A: Any of my existing Intricate Ink designs can be commissioned in any size and I can customise any of these illustrations. Bespoke commissions range from ‘Dobnerising’ customers pets after receiving photos and some information about their characters through to family Coat of Arms which comprise of a wish list of items personal to the client such as flags, animals, jewellery, flowers, symbols, dates, ribbons, times and so on or Personalised Initials designed again with elements specific to the customer or for a gift for a special person.
Q: You have an extensive tile range – tell me why you think these are popular.
A: I think the illustration telling a story such as B for Bling Bunny, C for Curly Tailed Chameleon Carrying a Cherry Cupcake, F for Fish with a Fag makes the tile come alive. It can be a treat for you or a unique personal gift. They are versatile – can be used grouted as a tile, rested on a mantelpiece, sat on a tile easel, hung on the wall with a plate hanger or used as words, phrases, initials, date of births or anniversary dates in the new wooden frames I make ready to hang straight on the wall.
Q: Which designers / artists inspire you and why?
A: Love Ingo Maurer – really would love Porca Miseria to be made from my plates – would be a dream come true … I also love Hermes scarves – the colours are just inspirational.
Q: What’s coming up in the New Year?
A: I’m working on a range of scarves for Liberty at the moment along with serving trays and new tile designs too such as J for Jewelled Jaguar and P for Presley Porcupine as well as new supersized tiles in existing designs. I have recently launched a new range of 8 linen union intricate ink tea towels and 6 intricate ink napkins in Liberty and also via my website which include; The Don, Cat Monocle, Hot Dog, Masked Skull and Fantastic Mr Fox amongst other designs.
So if you want to own a piece of Rory’s exquisite work check him out at www.rorydobner.com or visit him at his studio Hampstead NW3 by appointment on 07775 212425. See below for a selection of Rory’s pieces. Credits: text by Homegirl London, images courtesy of Rory Dobner, special thanks to Rory Dobner.
Monocle Cheshire Cat Plate
Beetle Clock Domed Paperweight
Smokey Fish Oval Paperweight
Bird Cage Question Mark Cushion
Hot Dog in Union Jack Cushion
Time Flies Candle