Julian Opie was born in London and raised in Oxford. He is a graduate of Goldsmiths College (1979-1982) and achieved some early gallery success.
His highly stylised work involves the reduction of photographs (or short films) into figurative reproductions created using computer software. In his portraiture, the human face is characterised by black outlines with flat areas of colour and minimalised detail to the extent that an eye can become just the black circle of the pupil and a head, a circle with a space where the neck would be. In this way, Opie tries to present the complexities of the human form by reducing it to it’s mere fundamentals. His famous “Imagine you are...” series, demonstrates how activities such as driving, walking and climbing can be represented by simple reductions and still be recognisable. He is quoted as having said “I am simply using that which is available to describe that which is experienced.”
Opie's style was brought into the public eye when he was asked to design the cover for the British band Blur's “Best Of” album. On the cover, the band members are transformed in Opie's individual style. As one of the leading figures in computerised art he implements computer technology by cutting out the outlines and coloured shapes, sometimes on vinyl, as in the large display banners at Tate Britain. He himself has been the subject of a film by ‘Illuminations’ in their ‘The EYE series’, in which they profile contemporary visual artists in Britain. Mary Horlock also published a book on Opie by Tate Publishing as part of their Modern Artist series. Recently, he has been met with controversy due to his more daring subject matter - pole dancers.
Opie is a former trustee of the Tate Gallery and exhibits with Lisson Gallery and Alan Cristea Gallery in London. His studio and workshop is based in Shoreditch, London. In 2010 he also exhibited in a group show at David Krut Projects alongside Boo Ritson and Howard Hodgkin.