In Conversation: Zoe Davey, Artist, Actor, Workshop Leader

We are very excited to have our first In Conversation with an extremely talented young woman, Zoe Davey. Zoe is an actor, artist (on many platforms), photographer, workshop leader and runs the company Zoe Davey Art & Photography.


Conceptual Acrylic Painting by Zoe Davey

Hi Zoe, thanks for talking to Underlines Ink today. Could you start off by telling us what your different job roles are?

As an Actor I create my own performances, perform and do a lot of rehearsing. I love creating new and interesting characters. I’m an Artist and photographer and created the company Zoe Davey Art and Photography, where I take peoples photos and ideas and develop them into pieces of art. I don’t limit myself to one art form, I use paints, drawings, computers, photography and art installations and anything can be a canvas.  Finally, as a workshop leader I create workshops for young people from scratch, whether its art or performance.

We’re going to focus on the art side of your life to begin with. Let’s take it back, how did you find your love for art?

From my parents, my dad is a graphics designer, my mum used to make cards and whatever was left over I used to scribble on. Art was my favourite lesson in school and I’ve always drawn on anything I could. If I had a pen in my hand and some paper, I was settled for the day. I’ve drawn since I could hold a pen.

‘You don’t need anything special to create, it’s all available to everyone because you have imaginations.’

Do you have any artwork from your childhood that is particularly memorable?

harry potter
The Harry Potter film characters by Zoe Davey aged 8

I used to draw book characters before it came the film, I’ve always enjoyed doing that. I specifically remember drawing the Harry Potter Characters. I also used to write my own stories and make my own characters and turned them into little books.  I used to do a lot of fashion design when I was little, but I was never any good of it. I used to cut out faces from magazines and draw my own bodies for them and then cut out bodies and design heads.

What was your favourite way to create art and does that differ from now?

I’ve always got images and ideas appearing in my head that suddenly comes to me and then I find any pen and paper or napkin and scribble it down and then go back to it and look at references to create a finished product. When I was younger I used to copy more and try and get it close to the original as I could to see if I could do it. Chunky Pencil Crayons were my go to medium when I was younger but now I use watercolour for on the go and acrylic for big scale paintings.

What advice would you give to young people who want to be an artist when they grow up?

Practise. It doesn’t matter if it’s all the time and it doesn’t matter if it’s perfect. Then keep it so you can see how you improve. I used to fill books and books worth of art. Also try and get people who can give you guidance, so if your parents are good at drawing or your art teacher is good, see what advice you can get. If you’re getting frustrated with one drawing, leave it, do something else and come back to it later with a fresh mind set and it won’t seem as tough. If you really struggle with a certain type of thing (for me its realistic drawing of  cats and people ), try and grid out your picture that you’re drawing from. (see picture) But if you’re going for your own style, just go for it.

Mural by Zoe Davey for a local nursery school.

Moving on to the performance side of your job, how did you start performing? 

School plays. I wanted to be Mary in the Christmas Brownies performance but I was cast as the second donkey, for some reason, the ears I was wearing was twice as big as the other girls and I looked like a rabbit.  Which probably moves nicely into the first Shakespeare part I was cast as which was Bottom from Midsummer Nights Dream who gets turned into a donkey. From the age of 12 to 18 I got involved with amateur Musical Theatre which was the local youth theatre.

What’s been your favourite performance you’ve done?

Before studying acting at University i was The White Witch of Narnia in a youth theatre operetta. I had a song about Turkish Delight. I’m terrified of singing but I did it anyway. In university I had some amazing chances to play some sturdy female parts such as Lady Macbeth.

Obviously you chose acting as a career but how has performing helped you in the personal side of your life?

Confidence. I was quite quiet in college and the plays were my favourite because they were a release and I think because I really loved the research it’s also made me into a more intelligent and intuitive person giving me an awareness of people and the world.

You lead a lot of workshops for young people, what are your favourite things about being a workshop leader?

Going from being the craziest person in the room to getting everyone on board with you. It’s a great feeling when you get to watch children leave their insecurities and worries behind and really get into something.

From your experience do you have any advice on getting creativity more into the home?
It can stem from anything. You could all watch a film together and then afterwards draw the characters or you could read a book and put it on it’s feet as a little play. My sister and I used to make little films and stuff- and now you can do it on a phone, you don’t even need a video camera. But you don’t need anything special to create, it’s all available to everyone because you have imaginations. Grab some paper and a pen or  you can make capes out of pillowcases- you don’t need anything special.

That’s brilliant because that is all the kind of creativity we love. Finally, Underlines and Underlines Ink believes in giving children space for creativity and imagination, as a performer and an artist, why do you think this is important?

It makes you a more rounded human being. I don’t want to sound cliché but it’s true. It helps you find beauty and joy in things that may seem mundane. It changes the way you look at the world.

Octopus by a young Zoe Davey
Watercolour painting by Zoe Davey



Author: Antonia Underwood

I am an actor, writer, workshop leader and the founder of Underlines, a company that creates active and exciting platforms for writing.

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