If you haven't yet come across her work, then let this be your introduction to one of my favorite artists, Charmaine Olivia. She is able to use many medias: oil paint, drawings with watercolor, photography - not only is her work charming, seductive, and chimerical - some of it is just plain funny. The "A Deer Wearing Gym Socks" was my introduction to Charmaine Olivia quite some time again; and I absolutely adored the color, the style - and the gym socks! I had no idea of the versatility behind the artist of that funny little painting until recently...
1. I can not believe that you have had no formal training (your work is exceptional)?! Please tell us more about your transition from soy sauce and napkins to oil paint and canvas?
I feel like the soy sauce "paintings" that I used to make when I was little were an important part of my development as an artist. I think that some parents may have considered this inappropriate behavior, but I am so grateful that my parents never told me to "stop that nonsense", even when in a public restaurant. They've always been supportive of me as an artist, which I am super grateful for. Then when I was a little older, around 8 or so, my aunt taught me how to use oil paints. We used to go down to the beach and paint the waves and sky. Since then, I have definitely branched away from the traditional way of painting that my aunt taught me, but she gave me the confidence to do it on my own. However, it wasn't until a few years ago that I really started taking myself seriously as an artist. I ultimately decided against going to art school and took some time to really figure out if pursuing art was what I wanted. It was.
The artist, at 8, painting Plein Air on the Beach.
2. You came on the scene only a little over a year ago - at least at Etsy. You have gained massive exposure elsewhere - Envelop, Pingg, etcetera. Do you spend a lot of time marketing yourself?
I don't spend a ton of time marketing myself. I first started posting my work online through deviantArt and eventually I was able to gain a little following and some momentum. Since then I've started a blog, twitter and facebook fanpage. All these tools are extremely helpful for anyone trying to get their word out. Then I had my first big break last year when I started a contract with the Scandinavian design company Bolia and had my first solo show in San Francisco last October. It's all about getting noticed by the right people, and every little mention helps. I am so thankful for all you bloggers and art-lovers :) And now I'm proud to say Urban Outfitters is selling one of my prints as of last week! (Which has been my dream for a while now).
3. You use elements of the natural world in your artwork - aspects of your art have an aboriginal or tribal quality to it. Can you talk about the natural world as influence on your art?
I think my fascination for tribal and natural elements stems from my mother. She's always been interested in archaeology and history and we love watching documentaries together. We used to love flipping through National Geographic and looking at vibrant people and animals from other parts of the world. Now that I live in San Francisco, there isn't a ton of nature around me (at least where I live) so I sort of make up for that by including it in my work.
4. Honestly, you're just so intriguing - there's more I'd love to know...but I can't think which question to ask. If you want to tell us something else - feel free: (or, if like me you're equally intrigued about the multi-talented Charmaine Olivia, just follow her blog to learn more)
I really, really love tea. I'm kind of a tea fiend. Drinking peppermint tea with honey and doing crossword puzzles with my boyfriend Joe is probably one of my favorite things ever!
Ms. Charmaine Olivia, currently
I hope you all have enjoyed learning more about the strikingly talented artist and all-around nice gal, Charmaine Olivia. I will see you all next week!