Entering the world of Rory Dobner is a little like falling through the looking glass. Dreamlike and surreal, the artist’s intricate pen-and-ink illustrations – often featuring quirkily anthropomorphised animals and natural-world motifs – have a Victoriana-inspired flourish that has captivated numerous fans since the launch of his drawings and decorative homewares range for Liberty in 2011.
The Central Saint Martins alumnus has since built up an impressive list of private clients, from Kate Moss and Robert Downey Jr to Soho House, Agent Provocateur and the Natural History Museum, who request bespoke commissions (from £250). Eclectic projects have ranged from an inked illustration to mark Moss’s nuptials, to a huge drawing that covered Fortnum & Mason’s façade during the store’s restoration works, and images of Stephen Webster’s jewellery that have recently been printed onto wallpaper for the designer’s stores in London and LA.
Clients looking for unique pieces can opt for customised versions of his existing designs – such as personalised takes on his iconic illustrated letters – or entirely original artworks that interweave personal motifs and objects. Wedding invitations and commemorative designs (first picture) are a perennial favourite, as are coats of arms (second picture), illustrations of beloved pets (third picture) and tattoo designs.
Clients can choose from a variety of media, including pen and ink, pencil, sculpture, steel etchings, wall murals and designs on ceramics, homewares and soft furnishings – the sky’s the limit. Dobner’s dream projects range from “tiny illustrations disguised in the linings of suits or the inside of people’s shoes” to “drawings that travel to unusual places – maybe even decorating a rocket or a submarine”.