Olivier Leger

"I love that my job allows me to learn about the weird and wonderful creatures that live in our oceans and share the message about the vital importance of conserving and protecting our marine environments"

What do you do?

I create elaborate, imaginative drawings of wildlife. I explore an animal’s environment, the function that the animal has is in its ecosystem, and the interconnectedness of ecosystems and all life on Earth. A keen scuba diver, my artwork draws upon my experiences underwater and my fascination with marine life.

I create my intricate drawings using with fine tipped pens (0.03mm>) on paper. My largest projects take 6-8 months to complete, my smaller drawings take a couple of weeks. I work from my home studio in Leicestershire in the company of my house rabbit, who I adopted and creatively named ‘Rabbit’.

By celebrating the wonder of life on Earth, my artwork aims to highlight the importance of conserving the natural world in an era of human-driven environmental crisis.

How did you get to where you are?

It was my mum who first put a pen in my hand as a child and encouraged me to be creative. I’ve always found it more enjoyable to put my ideas in to pictures rather than words. I studied Fine Art at Norwich University of the Arts. I never really considered that art could be a full-time career.

After university, I worked in retail and doodled in my free time. I entered a drawing into the Open 25 at Leicester New Walk Museum, and was happily surprised when it won me the Attenborough Prize. That gave me the confidence to start showing my work at local art and craft fairs.

Eight years down the line, I have learnt a lot and am grateful for all the support that I’ve been given along the way. I’ve got so many ideas for drawings I want to create, sometimes the most difficult decision is choosing which one to tackle next!

Why do you love what you do?

I love that my job allows me to learn about the weird and wonderful creatures that live in our oceans and share the message about the vital importance of conserving and protecting our marine environments.

I love that I am able to work on one project for several months at a time so that I can achieve these huge, detailed drawings that offer something new to be discovered each time they are viewed and take the viewer on their own journey of discovery.

Why Leicester?

I was born in Canada, but moved to Loughborough as a young child.

The Leicestershire countryside is truly a hidden gem, I am in love with its beauty and charm. I enjoy going for long walks around Beacon Hill or the Outwoods and count myself very lucky.

I think there’s great opportunities locally for artists and creative businesses. Some of the art fairs and exhibitions I have most enjoyed taking part in have been local ones such as the Sock Open at Loughborough Town Hall and in 2016 I was honoured to have a solo show at Leicester New Walk Museum.

I’ve recently opened my own small gallery and shop in Loughborough and it feels good to add to the local independent business scene.

I’d love to see the art scene and creative and small independent businesses thrive and grow across Leicestershire, it’s a great all-round base.

What next?

I’ve recently opened a small gallery and shop ‘Whales & Waves’ in Loughborough! It’s open Thursday and Saturdays 10am - 4pm in the Carillon Court shopping centre. There’ll be a changing exhibition of my drawings along with my fine art prints, greetings cards and gifts available to browse. Please pop by to have a gander and a chat!

My current project is a huge drawing of a humpback whale, my drawing board measures 1.2 x 2.2m so I anticipate it’ll take me 6-8 months to complete! I’m sharing sneak peaks of it on my social channels so follow me over on Facebook or Instagram to see how the drawing is progressing.

Reader Recommendations?

Ooh this is a great question! So, I’d like to share one of my inspirations - go right now and check out the beautifully intricate and colourful work of Japanese artist Ikeda Manabu.

Next, I am going to be happily guilty of nepotism here by recommending to you the artwork of my brother Matthieu Leger! His work features bright, bold, glitchy paintings of birds, mountains and portraits. Find him on Instagram @matthieulegerartist

AND that’s not all… Matt is also an awesome tattoo artist (what a multi-talented man I hear you exclaim.. I know!) working from a studio in Loughborough - check out his tattoo designs on Instagram @alexander.thomas.tattoo

Something I’ve enjoyed over lockdown and would recommend are Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust’s online nature talks. I’ve learnt so much new about our local wildlife and environmental issues.. all from the comfort of my sofa! They’re free to book and you don’t need to be a member, however any donations will support their important work.


Instagram: @olivier_leger

Facebook: @olivierlegerart

Website: www.olivierleger.com

Subscribe to my artist newsletter: http://eepurl.com/dv1ni5