Simon spent his childhood fishing, drawing, and painting (usually creatures with sharp teeth). His first experience with clay was at the age of nine, throwing on the wheel under the guiding hands of Tessa Oates at Chipstead Craft Studios, later sculpting and modelling. He entered the world of graphic design and illustration, working in London design studios for a decade and then from his home in Kent. With the increasing use of computers, he felt the call back to clay and the need to express himself in more tangible forms.
Simon is fascinated by the relationship that develops between man and man’s best friend. His work combines illustration and sgraffito to depict and celebrate the exciting (sometimes imaginary) life of his Labrador Retriever (the least demanding of supermodels) in permanent, everlasting ceramic form – so much easier to keep clean than the real thing! Around half his output is commissions created for customers worldwide, often based on owners’ favourite four-legged friends.
“The pose of the dogs are matched to the piece, illustrated and carved by hand. Never tracing or using stencils or decals or anything like that. I have nothing against other methods, I just like to paint/scratch quickly and freely with as little as possible to slow me down or get between my brushes and tools and the damp clay.” – Simon Olley