Alumni Spotlight: Oglesby Finlay

Oglesby Finlay

Oglesby Finlay is an artist currently focusing on Surreal and Fantasy work. Before receiving a bachelor’s degree in Illustration, Oglesby was primarily self taught. Since graduating in 2016, they have been working as a freelancer, and have recently been creating coloring books and activity materials for local businesses in the Iowa Corridor. While mostly working in a digital medium, they also have experience with oil painting, traditional illustration and screen-printing.

Oglesby identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns.

Find Oglesby on social media!
Instagram: @oglesbyfinlay
Twitter: @oglesbyfinlay

What is your artist name?

Oglesby Finlay is the name I chose to represent myself as an artist. I think having a unique name is a good call if you want to be memorable! Oglesby is a given name, and I chose Finlay from the Scottish sect that I’m descended from.

Which city are you currently working from?

I’m currently in Cedar Rapids, although I will most likely be moving somewhere else in eastern iowa come spring to start a farm with my spouse.

What is your education, professional experience, awards, etc.

I have a B.S. in Illustrstion (why not a B.A.? I have no clue. My school was weird) and I worked professionally as an illustrator for indie video game companies during highschool and college.

What is your personal creative background? (When did you start, what did you do? Where did it go from there?)

I was encouraged to pursue art from a young age, although sometimes I wonder if I should have pursued conservation science, since the video game and media industry sort of collapsed in terms of hiring artists after I graduated school. But that has sort of forced me to re-evaluate my vision for myself as an artist, and what I feel is important to me.

Who are your main influences?

I’m highly inspired by surrealists like M.C Escher and Rene Magritte, as well as traditional and modern tattoo styles. Thematically, I follow the philosophy of “Memento Mori”, which emphasizes the brevity of life and the unavoidable reality of death. I also draw inspiration from my struggle with mental and physical illness, and the feeling of “monstrosity” that comes with that.

What type of artist would you call yourself primarily? 

I’ve played with a lot of genres, but I think I would call myself casually surrealist/macabre

What other types of art do you enjoy?

As for doing: i’m getting into linocut, which I think suits my style. I also have a history in classical and folk music, so I enjoy dabbling in that. Photography is also something i greatly enjoy consuming, although my own skill in it is debatable.

When you joined Art Office, what did your creative practice look like? (What were you working on, how often, how well?)

Honestly it did not look like much. I was (and still am to an extent) experimenting with style and motivation.

What are some challenges and strengths that you had at that time?

The main source of struggle was breaking through a sense of inadequacy. I have dealt with physical and mental handicaps for a long time, which caused fatigue and lack of inspiration. I think telling myself that it’s ok that I don’t work at the same rate as others was a big thing.

How did Art Office play a role in addressing those challenges and strengths?

Having other people hold me accountable to my goals was a huge help, even if those goals were small. Getting to show someone something I did that week was a huge motivator.

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