Owen Duncan
Creative Assistance

Photography

(click on a thumbnail to see a gallery of related images)

I love taking photos of nature. I'm constantly learning from both the activity of photography and interaction with my subjects. Animals are great subjects, naturally fascinating and charismatic. While I occasionally photograph human-centered events, I find that it's much more natural for me to do wildlife photography, where being shy is an asset and not a difficulty to be overcome. If you are patient and unobtrusive, opportunities arise. It's always great to go to a zoo or museum, where the appearance of visually exciting subjects is guaranteed, but sometimes it's more satisfying to just take a really nice photograph of something small and common which you encounter by chance, a photograph you can study later to see things you couldn't see in that fleeting moment.

Graphic Design

My family raised me to think visually, and to constantly see opportunities for creative expression. I grew up drawing, painting, and using collage to express myself and communicate with others.

live eat and sleep organic or die

Above, some "early work" drawn in Mac Paint and colored with Crayola markers. It's a testament to the childhood origin of my interest in protecting our environment. This piece is a bit discolored, due to the fact that it was proudly displayed on our family refrigerator for at least a decade.

My interests have endured, but my techniques have become a little more sophisticated.

don't frack up our water

In school, my teachers learned that my constant doodling actually helped me to concentrate and remember class material.

drawings of speakers and students in college

As you can see from the map below (designed as a promotional card for sale at the Buttonwood Farm tasting room) my drawing style remains simple. The resulting images are accessible and economically communicative.

map of Buttonwood farm winery and vineyard

Designing logos takes the challenge of simplicity to another level.

logo for sbcc permaculture garden

While I do my coloring and manipulation of images in Photoshop and Illustrator, I value the texture that comes from handmade sources. Sometimes I can get the texture I want just from drawing with a particular pen, but other times I want something more unique, like the rough, unevenly-inked texture of a blockprint. I used this combination of techniques to create the design for the Santa Barbara Summer Solstice in 2016 (for the theme "Legends"). It made a very bold poster and t-shirt.

Duncan poster santa barbara summer solstice legends

I reworked the poster images into a variety of advertisements and publicity materials, including this performer lineup:

solstice lineup

If I keep submitting my flaming cassette tape design to their annual contest, someday maybe the KCSB people will put it on a t-shirt. I REALLY want to wear this on a shirt!

flaming cassette tape looks awesome

I'm comfortable designing publicity and suiting my style to the event, like this breezy summer reading:

Gerald DiPego tales for a summer afternoon

I drew this cheeky flowchart to find an apartmentmate. It worked! Now I live with a wonderful woman who fits all these criteria and shares my sense of humor.

flowchart for finding roommates

My 2017 holiday card was another digitally colored blockprint.

Donald Trump being crapped on by a dove of peace

I've designed and painted sets for community theater, like this one for The Arabian Nights at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School.

arabian nights set design and photo

These digitally colored sketches are a selection of many I drew for Toad Hall in Santa Ynez. This musical version of The Wind in the Willows has an unusual number of settings (many of which are seen at different times of year and therefore must present different aspects), so instead of creating many traditional painted backdrops, the producers projected these illustrations onto a scrim behind the stage.

illustrations for a musical version of wind in the willows

Drought Piano (fall 2016) was part of the annual installation put on by Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative and other local sponsors. The idea behind the piece was to trick people into thinking about and visualizing the dramatic decline of Lake Cachuma, something very pertinent to the community, but easy for people who don't see the lake often to avoid seriously contemplating.

lake cachuma in a diminished condition

I often drive over the San Marcos Pass and see the lake on my way to work, and I wanted a way to get people to visualize the situation without immediately invoking the feelings of fear and guilt which cause us to shut down and delay action.

drought piano side view shows lake capacity as diminishing percentages over time

The piano as an object is fun and approachable, and the colors are bright and inviting. Natural human curiosity stimulates us to think about what the terse information on the front and side signify.

drought piano front view shows brand of piano is cachuma

The piece was exhibited in October 2016, so the final figure of 7% lake capacity represented what was then the real condition of our water source.