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Goodbye, 2020: Ollie Silvester

Based in Bristol, UK, illustrator Ollie Silvester spends most of his time drawing birds, plants and the strange fluctuations within his imagination.

He takes inspiration from the mundane and the moments between moments and is always trying to document the nonsensical humour that is found in the everyday, the colour within the seemingly drab, the noise within the quiet and the quiet within the noise.

In conversation with Ollie about the year that was:

How has this year been for you?

This year has been very strange, tiring, painful, and infuriating as I’m sure almost everyone would agree. A full on rollercoaster. I’ve had more time with myself than I ever have, moving into a new house where I knew no-one a week prior to the UK lockdown was a bit of a jump into nothing and I’ve learned a lot about myself but also a lot about what I have to be grateful for, what I need and what I don’t and strangely a new found confidence in how I express myself.

Did you learn anything new this year?

Yes! Quite a lot actually. I taught myself how to animate which was a big thing. It was perfect for the situation as it was extremely time consuming and very enjoyable to really dive into a process like that and very satisfying to se a new way of expressing ideas through images coming to life. I learned a lot about my needs for non-screen based ways to pass the time, so I read lots more than I ever have and went on a long walk nearly everyday, falling in love with my music library all over again in the process. I learned that Bristol has incredible sunsets and that there is a man that walks bare foot on the same walking route as me at the same time everyday.

What was your routine like during the pandemic?

Up and down! My routine was pretty rubbish to start with. Wrestling with what was happening and the backlash from any on next to no attempt to control it, I struggled to find a way to occupy my mind in a way that wasn’t filled with terror or great sadness. But as I became more understanding of the situation and worked out ways to retain my mental health at a steady level of fine, I began to jump into my work as a way to digest the passing of time and found myself being very productive. Obviously I still had days that were not great, But I tried my hardest to maintain a steady day of getting up and dressed in the morning, eating three proper meals and giving myself things to do, not always tasks but something to fill the day in a way that could be seen as satisfying. One of the best things I did was to remove any pressure to create from my day. I let myself be creative when the desire and inspiration came and do other things when it didn’t.

What dish did you cook the most in 2020?

I did a lot of cooking, but the thing I ate the most was undoubtedly Marmite on toast.

What's the biggest obstacle you've overcome this year?

To be quite honest it was probably just being able to stay motivated and creative and generally sane during this absolute whirlwind of a year.

What was one of the moments you were most proud of this year?

Probably getting signed as A model hahah! Good for the ego.

Who really enriched your life this year in a big way?

All of my friends and family have played such a huge part in keeping me going this year. I’ve spoken to more people on the phone than I ever have! I am so lucky to have a tight knit group of wonderful close friends and beautiful siblings and other family members that really give me so much life and energy. I honestly can’t imagine how I would have been this year if I didn’t have the support of just having all of these amazing people to chat to, laugh with and open up to. I’m sure a lot of people have found that the Isolation of this year has really shown us what is important and to keep out cherished relationships as close to our chests as possible, because without the people you love, what is there when everything else is gone?

The nicest thing you did for someone in 2020?

I wouldn’t like to pin it down to single events because that feels odd to me, but I would like too think I’ve been a very good friend to everyone I hold dear to me this year.

The book that helped you the most in 2020?

Definitely The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I’ve read many books (for me) this year but that one really stands out. It’s incredible.

The song you heard on loop this year?

Spotify told me it was You and Me Together Song by The 1975, which I do love (I’m a absolute fangirl). But in my mind I would say it was probably Garden Song by Phoebe Bridgers. I’m a huge fan of her and that song absolutely floored me when it came out and I still think its incredible. I even did a drawing about it which I think is one of my best personal pieces of the year.

Favorite film/TV show of 2020?

I’m such a fuzzy brain when it comes to remembering what I’ve watched. I’ve watched A LOT of good stuff this year. I loved Shirkers By Sandi Tan and I absolutely adored POSE.

What's a lesson that this lockdown has taught you?

To be kind to yourself in the smallest ways. Cook proper food, go outside as much as possible and appreciate the beauty of the world. Tell your loved ones that you really do love them. Talk to people when you think about them. Don’t be afraid of the things you like and be who you want to be!

What is one question that you found yourself asking over and over again this year?

When will I be able to hug my friends again? came up quite a bit

A recent epiphany you've had?

You’ve just got to be loud to bee seen, because no-one os going to shout for you.

What’s your number one bucket list item for 2021?

I’d like to say something profound but its definitely to get drunk and dance (mainly the Macarena as a synchronised group to any and every song) with all of my friends to 80’s bangers at The Mothers Ruin (our regular sticky floored horribly beautiful venue for dancing and being idiots)

Check out Ollie's amazing illustrations on Instagram and his website for constant loveliness.


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