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What Makes You Feel Alive? by Ollie

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Ollie's Instagram: @olliemakesart

A Conversation With The Artist

We interviewed Ollie about their views and artistic journey.


The Full Conversation:


The Abridged Version:

Timestamps next to each interview question correspond with the audio version. If there are certain parts of the conversation you'd like to listen to in full detail, feel free to skip around. ​


So starting off, what inspired you to join the zine? [0:59]


I don't know. I just saw it on TikTok. I saw it on the for you page. And it sounded really exciting. And awesome. Yeah. I didn't know. I just wanted to be a part of a project for a while. So it sounded fun. 


That's so cool that TikTok was the one that brought it to your attention. 


I'm so glad it came to my for you page.


So with your zine entry, what was the creative process like making it? Was there a specific approach you took or obstacles you faced in the process? [2:02]


So when I saw the theme, a breath of fresh air, the first thing that popped into my mind was me shaving my hair off because I did that in January for the first time. I had always had long hair, but, I was just chilling with my friends one night and one of them said “hey, let’s shave your hair,” and then I said, “Sure!” I didn't know it at the time, but like, it kind of changed my life; I don't know how to describe it. 


It felt liberating in a sense, like, very freeing?


Yeah, exactly. I'm nonbinary, I go by they/them pronouns, but I didn't know that at the time. I had an idea about that, I guess I have always known that, deep inside, but I didn't realize yet. And I think like, having long hair, and people perceiving me differently, as they have always done, like, started, made me start to think about it. And I ended up realizing it. And it helped me know what I was going through because I had not felt so good for a few months, right. And it just felt like a breath of fresh air. The theme is also just like- because it was January, and it's pretty cold in Iceland. So, when you go outside, and you have almost no hair, it's like, that's really that.


It is a breath of fresh air on your head.


Yeah! exactly haha

 Both the literal and, I guess, a metaphorical sense. That's awesome. It's like a small moment. You didn't realize it was going to be so life changing until after the fact.


It helped my dysphoria before I even knew I had dysphoria, gender dysphoria. Yeah. So, one of the best decisions I have made. 


So, this next question is something I think about a lot. I’m not sure about you, but I’ve always associated specific music or songs with pieces of artwork. I was wondering if you ever connect music with art, and if so how? [5:09]


Oh, that's interesting. Well, I guess sometimes- I don't think it's particularly just associated with music but more like the feelings themselves. When I look at my artwork for example, I can hear the buzzing, you know?


Right. Okay, that's cool. I feel like emotions definitely is something that's more common, but sounds I've heard no one say a specific noise before. That's pretty cool.


Speaking more broadly about your art, are there particular artists, concepts, or colour palettes that inspire your work? [6:15]


That's a good question. I guess there are no artists in particular. I have a really hard time remembering, like, artists' names.


Oh yeah, me too. 


But I went to Spain, because I'm half Spanish. I went to Spain, like, two months ago, and I bought a lettering book in a graffiti shop. So, lettering and stuff really inspired me. And I wanted to put words on my artwork. You know, I thought of what I could write. First, honestly, I started with another painting. It was just me, sitting in a chair, shaving my hair off. And then I wanted to have a closeup and show the hair falling off and stuff. Then it didn't have a background. I wanted to add some bright colors and filled it with letters. That's what I did. 


Do you do graffiti?


I own graffiti brushes. I've never done a mural. I paint on big card boards, like boxes and stuff that I find at home Also on just canvases. Sometimes I paint something and do the background in graffiti and then add something with pens and stuff like that. I really like mixing mediums like graffiti and something else.


I feel like mixed media paintings, or just in general, mixed media works are so cool, because you can get a lot of different textures and stuff going on. And they're just super fun too!


In terms of your art, do you ever explore mediums other than visual art? (Music, writing, etc) [9:08]


I think, yeah, I think visual art is like my primary outlet. I like music, I used to play piano and stuff, but I don't anymore. I enjoy listening to music while I make art. Oh yeah, I think I enjoy lettering and painting and stuff. I don't think there are more types of art.


I also- I stopped playing piano, I want to say a couple months ago. And it was actually because I wanted to make more time for my art. But yeah, I mean, for me, it was a good decision. But, you know I still appreciate piano. 


For sure. I started like, a year ago, I feel that. 


What are your earliest memories involving creative expression? [11:01]


I guess I've always really enjoyed drawing. My grandma is always telling this story from when she came to visit us in Spain, because I grew up in Spain. And always after I had a shower, when I was little, there were drawings of the evaporated water on the glass. I was just really little and yeah; I don't remember it. Yeah, I think it's funny, because it's really strange haha.


I love that. Like the little- when the water steams up, and then you draw little doodles. 


Yeah! Yeah. But other than that, I'm just- I've always been drawing. I've always been in some type of art course, or doing art in school. 


Have these early memories or your childhood in general influenced your artwork? [12:27]


I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about that.

Dovetailing into more of, I guess, expectations? Or you mentioned your grandma. How have people in your personal life influenced your art journey? [13:09]




Um, I really like drawing my friends. Like, my sketchbook is just portraits of my friends over and over. And I take a picture too because, again, I want to draw this, I want to remember that moment. And I feel like it's better to have a drawing of something than just a photograph, because I spend more time on it. And like it's more engraved in my brain, you know?


All the hours of working on it?


Yeah, exactly.


Also, you can add your own interpretation in paintings versus a photo. I mean obviously you can add your own interpretations in the way you take a photograph, but with paintings and drawings, like you said, you can really add your own flair, or whatever you want to do. 


Yeah, I agree. It's more customizable. 


In general, are there any specific themes or topics you like to address in your artwork? [14:40]


Yes, it's just mainly about discovering yourself, you know, because cutting my hair and stuff and just helped in discovering I'm nonbinary and like how it felt. And sometimes my paintings are a little bit harder because even though it was nice to discover it, it's not always nice to be different. Do you mean like in this artwork or just in general?


In general, in general.


Yeah, sometimes my art doesn't have any meaning at all. Just like this morning, I was thinking about crying crocodiles, and it just means nothing. It's just- crocodile tears. I just think it's funny. Sometimes my art has a meaning. Sometimes it's just random things I thought up.


Do you ever feel obligated for your work to have a “deeper,” or more profound, meaning? Do you think that “deeper” meaning makes artwork more valuable? [16:07]


Oh, that's a great question. I really thought about it recently. Because all those- do you have- ever seen those videos about AP art on your TikTok that have a super deep meaning? And if it doesn't have a meaning, if it's a painting of a tree, it got one or something even though it's pretty?


Yes. Yes.


I feel like sometimes it's too much of “it should have a deep meaning.” Sometimes art should be just, whatever. it doesn't have to be something sad or something monumental. It's just creating something. It doesn't have to be deep. Sometimes it's just funny or silly, and it isn’t less of art because of that.


Like crocodile tears! That's an awesome way to answer that question. And I agree. Do you ever feel hesitant to tell people about what the meaning of your artwork is?


Yeah, for sure. Sometimes it’s too personal. But I still want to share the painting on social media, like hey I made this. But it's maybe too personal to explain the whole story behind it. And I think it's fine to just put art out there and not feel obligated to explain what it means. Sometimes, It just can stay between you and your artwork, what it really means. But, people can still look at it and be like “oh, that's pretty,” regardless of that. 


How much do you think creative ability is an innate talent? Versus a skill you can work at over time? [18:45]


Hm, that’s interesting. It always annoys me when people say, “oh, you're so talented. How did you get those artistic genes?” Because it's implying that I haven't ever practiced drawing. In reality I have spent tons of hours drawing, painting, and trying to get better because I enjoy it. Sure, some kids are better at drawing than others. But it is really- if you have a passion for it, you will automatically paint and stuff. And then it will get better. But I don't think someone is just born a talented artist. It just doesn't make any sense to me.


Yeah. I agree. 


Going back to your creative process, what role do you think emotions play in it? [20:06]


I guess sometimes I just draw how I feel. If I feel overwhelmed, I paint something dark or dreadful.


I think a lot of artists can relate to that.


Our last question that we had for you is a little bit more lighthearted— what’s something that’s made you smile this week? [21:31]


 Two days ago, I saw it was really pretty outside, like the sunsets. and I live right by the beach. So I first called my friend, but he was busy. So, I just took my book, my sketchbook, went down to the beach, sat on a stone and just drew until the sun went down. 


Oh my god, that's beautiful. 


That really made me smile. I just listened to my favorite music and drew. Even though all my friends were busy, I wanted to do something myself, to have fun. And that really made me happy. Because I think some months ago, I wouldn't have been if all my friends were busy, and couldn't meet me. And I would just go to bed and be sad. I went out then, and painted on the beach, and I really liked that.

Ollie's interviewABFA Zine
00:00 / 24:06
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