Q&A With Rosa O'Mara

Rosa O'Mara is a 23 year old Illustrator, born raised and kicking in South-West London. She dubbed her Illustrator alter-ego as Boy Saveloy recently because shes trying to be a bit more proper (in her own words)

What are your current inspirations right now? 

I got a bit down on illustration at one point during my studies, but recently it’s like I’ve opened pandora’s inky box and been made aware of so many cool current creatives. It makes it more inspiring to be playing for the same team!*  

I’ve also begun to strike up a working relationship with music which I think is really what I’ve always wanted. I cant play an instrument, and I’ve never made music, but its always been a big driving force, like my biggest emotional outlet, in-let, all-around-let.  

I’m really enthralled by rave culture at the moment. I keep finding myself seeking out more info and documentation, especially since we’ve been in quarantine those big sweaty loved up parties are the polar opposite of social distancing. The rave memorabilia groups on facebook are perfect sources of people sharing all their old flyers, posters, and tickets, with designs from the likes of Pez. You might also get a first-hand recount of Gaz-from-Newport’s favourite Dreamscape and how he can remember his first eccie like it was last weekendWhat’s not to like!? 

*To name a few: James Lacey (@pointless_illustrations_james), Maite García Argul (@maitaimai), Percy Mingle (@percymingle), Dr Banana (@drbananana), Jamie Wolfe (@jamikwolfe), Taylor Cheverall (@headlockkkk), Taylor Silk (@taylor_silk), PJ Harper (@pig.malion),  Le Zeste (@le_zeste), Dylan Hall (@dylan_hall_), Sarah Mazetti (@sarahmazzetti), Laura Jayne Hodkin (@laurajaneyh#NotAnAd


How did you initially get into illustration? 

I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I finished school except that I needed a break from London, so I went to Brighton (<3) for a year to study an art foundation at the city college. There came a time after lots of cellotape and string that we had to decide which skill we wanted to work in – fine art, pd, textiles, graphics, illustration. 

It was the only one that made sense, not so much of a eurekamoment. To be honest, I’m still getting into illustration and discovering how multifaceted it isI took some time out of studying this yearremoving illustration from the confines of education has definitely helped me discover what I love about it and where I can place myself within it. 

Saying that I know there are parts of it that I’ve always just thought was hands-down cool. Ralph Steadman was my first love in illustration – his stuff transports you into this grim, scratchy, little world and that pulled me into the artform. Emory Douglas was another early one – he was the illustrator for the Black Panther Party publications, his work taught me how political drawing can be.  

More than anything, when you find something impressive you just want a piece! 

Your five favourite books/magazines right now?

Right now it is particularly important that we educate and organise ourselves, meaning we need particular texts in our arsenal. I’ve made up the following list, some I’ve read and some I’m committed to reading:

1 – Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race, Reni Eddo-Lodge

The best intro for a young radical mind. I’ve not met anyone with a bad word to say about it. Eddo-Lodge significantly examines the institutional and systematic racism alive in the UK and gives you the history lesson your school never did!

2 – Women, Race & Class, Angela Davis

Currently reading. Angela Yvonne Davis is a legendary political activist, educator, and notable member of the Black Panther Party as well as an all-black branch of the Communist Party. This particular text studies women’s liberation in the US.

3 – Are Prisons Obsolete, Angela Davis

A study into the catastrophic criminal justice system and its inherent politicisms, arguing for ‘decarceration’

4 – The End of Policing, Alex. S. Vitale

A close study and critique of the US justice system, particularly the police force, and call to reform. 

5 – Talking Back, Bell Hooks

The subtitle for this book is ‘Thinking Feminist – Thinking Black’. The voice, speech, making noise. The blurb says ‘Bell Hooks made language her birthright’

You have a really specific style in your work, how did it come about? 

I struggle to see a constant in my style, but maybe I’m standing too close to the mirror. Drawing is all just codes really, and I most like being taken aback by a clever way of illustrating x, y or z. Sometimes it’s good to be a magpie – so if I see something I like on a poster or in an old book I try to emulate it from my own hand, which naturally produces something new. Balancing on the shoulders of giants. Same goes with subverting recognisable imagery.  

 The best bits always happen when there’s no pressure. Sometimes there’s a brainwave, it’s never ever the same as last time. I’m still feeling pretty rough around the edges so there’s definitely room for tidying up! 

What is your creative process like?  

Long and gruelling. Unrefined. About 50% is coming over a battle with my confidence in my work – lots of drawing, redrawing, redrawing. My lightbox is either my best friend or my worst enemy. A lot of time is also spent just staring at a photoshop document or leaving it for a few hours in the hopes that something might’ve changed, like when you’ve got an empty fridge (in both cases, sometimes it works). Lets just say I’m working on it! 

What are your plans for the future with your work? 

I’ve always had print somewhere in the back of my mind. I can find my working process quite stagnant – maybe it doesn’t end up like I’d hoped, or if it does its just a matter of exporting a file and posting it somewhere: MASSIVE anti-climax!! Printmaking is a tasty way of rounding it all off, cherry on top with sprinkles. really enjoy how one way or another there’s always a finished physical real thing you can hold and marvel at. Even the mistakes look good!  

I very briefly worked with Jumbo Press helping to set up their Barcelona riso-studio and store right before lockdown locked down – even that short stint fed an excitement to work in and around illustration that I think is easy to lose along the way. I’ll be finishing my degree at Kingston this year so life’s on hold a little longer at least!  

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