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Fresh, quirky and fun: this is Ohh Deer, a one-of-a-kind start-up that sells illustrated gifts online.

Ohh Deer is an online shop founded in 2011 by Jamie Mitchell and Mark Callaby, both with backgrounds in creative industries. Living by the motto ‘illustrated for life’, they decided to take the work of exceptional illustrators and create something extraordinary.

Today this fast growing creative company is a collective of some of the brightest contemporary artists and makers.

We talked about it with Jamie.

Ohh Deer is a very innovative project and it’s a great incentive for all the creative minds who want to live out of their art… How do you choose the illustrators?
Mark and I have always maintained that everything we work on, feature or aspire to do, has to be something we love, or there’s not a lot of point in doing it. For starters that guarantees at least 2 people are going to like what you’re doing, so you’re safe already, phew – It also means that it’s more likely to connect with others too!

We select Illustrators to work with because their creative exploits have caught our attention for one reason or another, there’s always something extra sparkly about their work. It’s difficult to explain. We find people from all over the place, often we don’t realise we want to work with them until we post their work on our Facebook page and the hits go crazy, not that we don’t love what we’re posting – otherwise we wouldn’t be posting it. Sometimes it takes that moment to realise what that piece might become.

Even if we don’t work with people, we just post their work, it has to have a certain feel, either because it’s quirky, funny or just bizarre. We’re called Ohh Deer after all…

It’s also the reason we host regular open submission competitions, which encourage EVERYONE to enter, it gives us an opportunity to support new talent and spot things we might have missed elsewhere.

On your website you state that “illustration breaks the ice”. What do you mean exactly and why did you choose just this form of art?
It’s unpretentious, it doesn’t pretend to be more than it is, so you always know where you are with it. It’s the area that I felt most comfortable which is why I chose to take it full time. It basically just allows me to put the crazy things that happen in my head (namely animals wearing clothing) onto paper in some way, shape or form.

When you choose an illustrator you like, do you pick objects he has already created or do you also commission specific objects according to the market needs?
A combination of both, we’ll often be attracted to their back catalogue and go from there.

What are the articles that people like and buy the most?
Artemis everything, Heroes and Villains cushions by Jack Teagle and Gemma Correll greeting cards.

What future do you see for this kind of projects that combine illustration/art and work? Do you think it’s something that could work well also outside the UK?
It’s going worldwide this year and onward. We should be headed over to the States in the coming months and we have designs on France and Germany this year too.

Where do you sell the most and who do you think is the most sensitive and receptive target of these works?
London, the bigger cities in the UK and Paris, our work is reasonably forward thinking and it requires someone with similar sensibilities to contemporary Illustration to fully appreciate what it is we’re trying to do.

What’s the promotion channel that you think is more efficient (social media, word of mouth..)?
Facebook and word of mouth, we have a rapidly growing audience on Twitter too, which has taken a while to heat up, but we see that as the way forward.

What do you like the most about this project and what are you more proud of?
The ability to help liberate Illustrators and other visual artists and allow them to live through their work.

2014 has just began… Can you tell us something about some projects or objectives of Ohh Deer for this year?
Our web store is going to have a lot of new Ohh Deer additions to it this year, as well as lots of other creative brands. We’re hoping to make it THE place to go if you’re looking for contemporary Illustration and quirky gifts. We’re keen to see the brand in other countries too, so like I said, USA, France and Germany will have to watch out for us, we’re coming! And helping more and more creative types out as we go along, as that’s what it’s all about.