Cover profile: Owen Gildersleeve & Stephen Lenthall

Cover profile: Owen Gildersleeve & Stephen Lenthall

This month it was a real honour to have Owen Gildersleeve and Stephen Lenthall create a series of three-dimensional white paper sets of our logomark for our cover image. Inspired by their Shadow Spaces, which examined the relationship between space, form, light and shadow, the duo created three individual images that look almost too perfect to be real.

I wanted to find out more about their collaborative approach and managed to ask them a few questions.


Tell us a little about yourself and how you work together.

Stephen: I’ve been a still life photographer for about 15 years. I often work on projects on my own – simple, graphic work where I can be in control of everything, but I love a proper collaboration where I can add something to the work of another artist (and vice versa). With Owen, he shoots quite a bit of his own work (his illustration work in particular), so I think he really values the input of another pair of eyes at that stage of the process, and I love the novelty of someone turning up at the studio with a beautifully crafted subject!

Owen: Cheers Lenny! Yes as mentioned I’m an artist who moves between working by myself at my studio on intricate handcrafted illustrations to collaborating with large teams on set design projects and installations. So for a project like this, which has some interesting and quite graphic dimensions, it’s really nice to work with someone like Stephen who has a real eye for what’s needed to make the most out of an image.

Do you think it’s important to find time for personal projects?

Stephen: It’s essential – to show potential clients what you want to do in order to do what you want to do!

Owen: Yes it’s also very good for the soul too – To get to work on a project totally of your own choosing, where you can take it in any direction you desire. It helps to keep the brain fresh and allows you to look at client work in a different way.

How do you approach a new project together?

Stephen: We’ve only worked together a couple of times, but we seem to find a mutually interesting subject, then Owen keeps me in the loop as he builds his work so I can think about the lighting/composition as we approach the shoot.

Do you try to get feedback from the client at this early stage?

Owen: I think it’s important to keep communication up with clients throughout a project, to treat it more like a collaboration. So we will often share early sketches and ideas so everyone can chat through the direction of the project. Then once a direction is chosen we’ll send lots of making-of images as we go to keep everyone in the loop and make sure people are happy.

Do you focus on one project at a time or are you multi-taskers?

Owen: I’m a big multi-tasker. There’s always a bunch of bits bubbling away at the same time and I kind of like it that way – It allows you to have breaks away from projects whilst you deal with other tasks and then come back with a fresh perspective.


What do you two listen to while you work?

Stephen: I am a radiohead – Radio 4 in the morning, 6 in the afternoon. Too much dithering on Spotify otherwise!

Owen: I like BBC 6 too, but I’m more of a fan of their evening and weekend scheduling, so will spend the week catching up on Mark Riley, Giles Peterson, Mary Anne Hobbs, Cerys Matthews and stuff like that. We do listen to a lot of playlists too, but keep it quite mellow as I’m in a shared studio – So lots of world music. We’ve been busting through the Soundway Records collections recently which are amazing!

What would be your dream project?

Owen: Stephen and I are planning on experimenting with some moving-image work together. It would be nice to explore this realm more and maybe work on some visuals for a band or artist.

What do you do to switch off?

Stephen: Run. No music, just slightly delirious thoughts looping round my head.

Owen: Drumming. I play in various bands and it’s a really great release and a good way to switch my brain away from work stresses for a bit.

Finishing off with a classic but always useful question, what’s the most important piece of advice anyone has given to you about your work?

Owen: I was once told ‘Only do the things only you can do’. It’s helped me over time to learn to delegate to assistants so I can focus on the parts of a project I need or want to do.

Stephen: The one tip that springs to mind most often is for lighting – ‘there’s only one sun’. It’s a great rule, although it is there to be broken too…

Glenn Garriock

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