“I made a bunch of maps for the United Airlines inflight magazine. They are all geographically accurate”
Oliver Jeffers was born in Australia in 1977 and grew up in Northern Ireland. Perhaps most popularly known as an award-winning creator of picture books for children, Jeffers has also maintained a vigorous career in the fine arts. He has exhibited internationally, from London to Berlin, from Belfast to New York. From figurative painting and installation to illustration and picture-book making, Oliver’s work takes many forms. Otherwise his versatility as an artist can’t hide his particular, distinctive characteristics: simple drawing and irony.
Jeffer’s illustrations are different for their simple line, like a pencil stroke that can be found in all his paintings and works. With his style he tell the observer lots of different stories in a few lines, sometimes helped with collages and colors. His drawings remember the one of a child, not for they are simplistic or unsophisticated. On the contrary he can perfectly manage lots of different instruments he use to express.
Another essential characteristic of his art is the irony. Adding up his simple pencil to a few word and a brilliant idea, Oliver Jeffers has the power to astonish and amuse the reader. The most interesting part of his poetry is the simplicity. Or better, a simplicity that hide a complex, clever and difficult work.
“One city, Five hours”
In 2009 Oliver Jeffers was hired to created a work for United Airlines called “One city, Five Hours” project. This illustrations landed him a regular spot in the company magazine, Hemisphere, pairing his drawings with various travel writers’ five hour guides to common layover city stops. The thoughtful guides allow the traveler to take in the city’s major sites and beautiful views en route to its best-kept secrets, historical oddities and food havens. He’s good at summing up all the most important spot of a city, and at the same time catch in a map its mood and atmosphere.
His recapitulatory maps don’t loose the artist’s typical irony. It often happens to see a tourist or an inhabitant saying something funny. Such as the artist himself introduce the observer his illustrations: “They are all geographically accurate”.
This kind of maps add value to the content. He underscores the main characteristic of a place, like most touristic guides do, but he has the skills to do it in a single drawing. Also the media he uses talks about travel. The notebook is the most comfortable object to use for sketching while you are travelling. It seems like he’s been there, in every city he mapped, choosing for everyone the best places and trip around them.
Here some other works Oliver Jeffers’ has done about maps and map-art. They don’t need any explanation, these drawings talk by themselves.