Dave Osmand (1964-2017)

We’ve learnt today, with great sadness, of the sudden death of Dave Osmand a long-time and hugely admired member of the animation community in Bristol and especially here at Aardman.

Dave worked on an incredible range of projects in different roles, but most memorably as a brilliant animator. He brought life, magic and comedy to Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep, Creature Comforts, Chicken Run, Morph and to dozens of TV commercials and other projects. It’s impossible to exaggerate how crucial he has been to the success of the company over the years, or how highly valued his work always was. As a result of this incredible career, Dave was known and loved by just about everyone who worked on the studio floor over the last twenty-five years or so.

But loyal as he was, and fiercely dedicated to animating to the highest possible level, determined to go the extra mile in his pursuit of excellence – Dave was never simply a company man. He was emphatically independent, determined to take on life on his own terms. His love – in fact his need – to ride fast, powerful bikes was one symptom of his independence. Another was his choice in the last couple of years to step away from animation altogether. Many of us were amazed, but strangely delighted by his decision to become a postman – a choice which apparently brought him great happiness – and a job where, once again, he made a great impression on his work-mates.

There have been countless tributes, from those who knew him as a colleague, friend and mentor. Many have written about his kindness and support which went hand-in-hand with rigorous criticism – Dave’s complete determination to ‘get it right’ and help others to do so too is legendary. And there was nothing ‘vanilla’ about Dave, the way he lived his life and followed his art. If he was opinionated, passionate and provocative (and he was) it was because he cared more deeply about his work and the workplace than anyone I’ve ever met.

Nick Park writes: “On all the projects we’ve worked on together Dave was a star animator. He brought so much charm and humour to characters like Rocky, in Chicken Run, and Piella Bakewell in A Matter of Loaf and Death. As an animator he was a perfectionist, self-critical, and a highly creative artist. Dave was always pleasure to work with and direct, a friendly, lovely, untameable maverick of a guy.”

And Sergio Delfino, a colleague from Chicken Run days, summed up his spectacular character like this: “Antagonist, charmer, philosopher, raconteur; provocative, short tempered, big hearted, creative, intimidating, disarming, and unrelenting; a balls-out bike-riding hell-raiser. Dave O will always be treasured in my memory.”

Dave was an honest, funny, straight-talker, who earned respect, admiration and love from those around him. He was also one of the most talented and inspiring animators we’ve ever worked with. He will be long-remembered and much missed and our thoughts go out to his family and his great many friends.

Peter Lord & David Sproxton

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