A young Welsh artist from Anglesey has risen to frame across the country for his educational 2D animations that paint Welsh history and culture in a new light, thanks to support from the Welsh Government’s Big Ideas Wales service.
23-year-old Osian Roberts, who recently graduated with a Masters in animation from the University of South Wales, has already collaborated with Golwg and Y Lolfa on Welsh history and cultural projects designed to change the way we remember our Wales to-date.
Having drawn the attention of leading organisations across Wales, Osian is now planning to extend his animated business into still, Welsh language art and posters with the support of Big Ideas Wales, literally pressing pause on his prized educational videos.
Celf Osian, which launched this month, is an online Etsy shop featuring a gallery of Osian’s art. His current designs include ‘Cariad Nid Casindeb’, translating to ‘love not hate’, and a series of prints inspired by the early folklore and literature of the Mabinogion featuring the characters of Gwragedd Annwn and Branwen.
By selling his art, Osian hopes to spur important conversations and educate audiences on Welsh culture and history from within the homes of his buyers.
Osian’s Welsh prints range from £6 for an A5 print to £40 for larger, limited-edition designs. Osian also continues to welcome commissioned animation work, which varies in price from £30-£100 depending on the design, time frame and size.
Osian first began specialising in Welsh-medium art while studying an undergraduate degree in animation at Manchester Metropolitan University. It was here that Osian, a proud Welshman with a passion for the language, began expressing his heritage through moving sketches.
Osian said: “It was during my second year of studying in Manchester that I became unsure of what I wanted to do within my degree. As soon as I began sketching Welsh art, I thoroughly enjoyed the creative process. Animation is a great way of sharing important stories and history with any age group as the language of animation is universal, I feel. When I realised this, I felt this overwhelming duty to turn my passion for Welsh history into an educational platform.
“As soon as I set my sights on Welsh art, I knew I wanted history to be the focus of my work moving forward. The very first thing that sprung to mind was the drowning of Tryweryn in the 1960’s, which happened just 23 minutes from my home. I took my ipad and pen and began re-drawing history.”
To date, ‘Tryweryn’, Osian’s 2D animated film developed as his final major project in June 2021, has been viewed 8.8k times on Youtube and captured the attention of BBC Radio Wales alongside film festivals like Cardiff Animation Festival, Cardiff International Film Festival and Brittany International Film Festival. ‘Tryweryn’ even reached audiences in Serbia, as part of the Wicked Wales International Film Festival in 2022.
After graduating Osian moved to Cardiff to complete a masters in animation and created his second film ‘Rhannwch y Baich’, a 4-minute animation educating audiences on the rising suicide rates of farmers in North Wales.
Alongside working with the DPJ Foundation to gather information on the mental health of the male farming community, Osian also had the chance to collaborate with Isla Jasmine Blake, a music student at Manchester University who composed the track for Osian’s first short film, ‘Tryweryn’.
‘Rhannwch Y Baich’, which features voiceovers of Welsh farmers discussing mental wellbeing, was awarded the Wicked Wales International Film Festival Jury Prize and best animation in 2022.
Osian has had the privilege of bringing his animated art into his work with Menter Iaith Rhondda Cynon Taf by travelling among schools in Wales to create new projects that educate children on everything from hate crime to the importance of the Welsh language.
Aside from his own popular short films and ongoing work with Menter Iaith, Osian has worked on a range of commission-based art, including the artwork for two books in partnership with Welsh publisher Y Lolfa, and a special collaboration with Golwg on a Christmas cover feature. Osian hopes to continue to collaborate with Welsh organisations to spread important messages through the streets of Cymru.
Osian launched his business with the support of Big Ideas Wales, a Welsh Government funded service that, as part of Business Wales, aims to support anyone between the age of 5 and 25 to develop a business idea, including students and graduates, as part of its commitment to the Young Person’s Guarantee.
Osian found out about Big Ideas Wales after applying for Universal Credit, having found difficulty in finding work as a young creative in Anglesey. After reaching out to Big Ideas Wales last year, Osian was partnered with business advisor Niamh Ferron who he had regular weekly online calls with to sketch out the future of his business.
Discussing the support provided by Big Ideas Wales, Osian said: “I have worked with a range of different organisations and businesses throughout my degree, but when it came to setting up a business of my own, I was completely stumped. I didn’t even have a shop for my art.
“For me, the Celf Osian Etsy shop is a vessel that allows me to share my work with people across the world. In the coming months I hope to build a website too, where people can reach out to collaborate on everything from commissioned work to workshops. It will also act as a gallery for my work as well as another site to sell my art.”
During their weekly one-on-one calls, Niamh supported Osian to draft a business plan, register as a business and set up an Etsy shop. Niamh also encouraged Osian to apply for the Young Person’s Start Up Grant of £2,000, which he did in November 2022.
Successful in his application, Osian put the funding towards new equipment that will help Osian polish and print his designs and build a professional website. Osian was grateful to utilise his grant straight after securing it in December 2022 while working on a project with Menter Mon, a collaboration that led Osian to secure a role with Menter Rhondda Cynon Taff in January this year.
Discussing Osian’s success, business advisor Niamh said: “Osian is a great example of someone utilising all of the support that is available to him. He is proving that you can work in whatever industry you like and still come back to Wales to do it, filling a gap in Wales’ animated art scene. His work is bringing important topics to our attention and I can’t wait to see what conversations arise from Osian’s work in the future.”
In the coming months Osian hopes to secure funding for his third film which will shed light on Welsh culture outside of Wales. He also has a number of exciting commissioned projects which will be unveiled in the coming months. Keep an eye on Celf Osian’s social media channels for more information.