Stronger Together with Olivia Axson

 STRONGER TOGETHER: <High Five Emoji> 

Olivia Axson is inspiring. A freelance illustrator and artist Team Doris ADORES. An individual you must follow on Instagram, wonder at her work and lap up that attitude of GIRLS CAN DO ANYTHING.  

Keen to collaborate, we invited Olivia to our SS22 photoshoot. Olivia joined us in the studio with five beautifully bright pieces of her bespoke artwork - everything we needed to bring our campaign mood board to life. The campaign - The Bright Side - launches online next month; there is a sneak preview available online for pre-order here. We cannot wait to show it all off.

But for now, it's all about our girl, Olivia. Below, she shares more about her uplifting world of art, glitter and girl power.

Olivia, you rock.  

Q: Tell us a little about your background, Liv:

So, I graduated from Manchester Art School back in 2018, with an honours degree in Illustration & Animation. Left University and started working in the summer as a Social Media Manager/Onsite Artist for a Spa Hotel in the Lake District. It was a great job with lots of freedom to design what I wanted from funky door hangers to menus and key cards – it was a real experience.

From there I decided I wanted to go freelance, start my own business and expand my client base! My 'eureka' moment to fly solo happened after multiple dinner table conversations and cups of tea with my Mama, she gave me the confidence to take the plunge into the design world. 

Q: Describe your style of art: 
A: I've never really thought of myself having a signature style, it's one of those things we are taught to find when studying in High school through to Uni - I have to say I struggled with the phrase. I think once I stopped trying to force a style I thought I wanted, my own style started to develop. I guess from my line work, colour use and what I chose to draw. What some people don't realise is that it can take some years of trial and error to find what works. I remember once only drawing with black inky biros as I thought it was the cool thing to do, oh how wrong I was.

Since then my style has evolved into lots of glitter and digital portraits, now I draw the faces of powerful females, bold florals and technicolour doodles. It seems I always lean towards a certain colour palette when drawing - I like to use aqua, pale blues, hot cerise, mustard and peach in contrast with one another. Maybe this is my style?
In just three words: Personal. Powerful. Pink. 

Q: Day to day, what inspires you?
A: Songs always seem to inspire me, I am constantly listening to music. I find inspiration from the song lyrics to the artist, their stage costumes, performances and attitudes. I take lots of inspiration from Stevie Nicks, Madonna, Cher, Donna Summer – so many fabulous women from the 70s/80s/90s, not forgetting Bowie, Nirvana and Boy George. I have to thank my Pops for educating me in the world of music. There are times when I would often wake up to the thud of Blondie playing downstairs on full volume. Current female artists also inspire my work, artists such as Mirra May, Bree Runway, Little Sims and Joy Crookes.

Otherwise it is usually colour combinations. Often when scrolling Instagram I will flick past hundreds of photos all using different colour combos, most of the time it is interior shots that grab my attention most. A red painted chair in a pale pink kitchen has made me stop scrolling before and start drawing. 

Q: Talk us through the glitter process: 
A: So, each piece I digitally scribe on my iPad. I then use photoshop to edit and choose my background colour, I usually like to go for a lighter background when glittering, although I am planning on experimenting more with darker tones.

Once I've decided on a colour scheme I then send across the artwork to my faithful printers and wait.

After a few hours of flattening under a stack of heavy ass books I start glittering. There is no extravagance with tools, just a simple slim paint brush and a little pva glue. A single colour glitter piece usually takes me an hour or so to glitter, others can involve individual colour schemes and therefore take a lot longer.

However I find it therapeutic - sit in a sunny window and play Amy Winehouse on loud and you can sit there for hours.

Behind the scenes

Q: Favourite brief you've worked on recently?
A: Ooo this is a hard one. The blessing I have with my job is that every client is different and therefore so is every brief. I have a couple of favourites, at the very top of my list has to be designing the cover wrap for a London Black Cab - this was a project for a very special client and Pretty Woman the Musical. I am yet to have a ride in it but I hope to spot it soon ferrying folks across London Town.

Second would have to be the latest work I've been doing with a client and friend Lia, together we have designed an extreme floral for her brand to be printed as wallpapers and tufted into wide rugs. Vogue if you're reading this, get it on the front cover ;) 

Q: Who you admire creatively/personally?
Oh goodness, there are so many! To list them I’d have to say, Iris Apfel, Benjamin Reynaert, Marianne Theodorsen, Grace Jones, Yayoi Kusama, Little Sims, Frida Kahlo, Twiggy, Wes Anderson and Dave Buonaguidi.

In my opinion they are all creative geniuses.

Q: Quote you live by:
Has to be Cher .. "Mom, I am a rich man.”

Q: Ahead of Women’s International Day – share your girl crush/female hero?
A: My girl crush at the moment has to be Barbie Ferreira, she's known for playing Kat in the HBO series Euphoria... killing the game, literally. I'm obsessed with her style, the art she creates in her photographs and her character Kat is just too cool. Euphoria has made a huge impact and I'm here for it. As for my female hero... that I have to give to all the powerful females in my family - there is a lot of them!

Q: Will you tell us your guilty pleasure?
A: Haha this can change from day to day, but at the moment it has to be between The Great Pottery Throw down (as it's filmed close to where I grew up and who doesn't love a Keith Brymer cry, it's basically a Hollywood handshake) and ordering enough takeaway to feed a small family... currently the go-to is a local Lebanese restaurant - which I shall keep a secret because they are just too good to share! 

Q: What’s top of your interior wish list, Liv?
I have discovered an unhealthy obsession with decorative lighting, especially lamps, standing lamps and enormous chandeliers (I blame Pinterest). My flatmates are going crazy for the excessive amount of low light lamps we have in our living room... whoops! So I'd have to say if I could pick anything it'd have to be the floral Murano glass giant chandelier I am currently manifesting. One day, one day!

Q: Advice to anyone who’s thinking about taking the freelance plunge?
A: It sounds cliché, but hard work pays off! I promise. Some days you may have one commission, others you're swamped with four clients and the deadline was yesterday. But! That is the life of a freelancer and at times it is stressful but overall it is so rewarding to know you are doing something you really love to do. My advice is to keep cool, keep going and NEVER undersell yourself! Ever! 

Q: What are your favourite Doris pieces: 
A: I tell ya what definitely is going straight into my basket - the Amazonite Starburst Cocktail Ring! My fave colour and I'm a sucker for sparkles. I also have my eye on the Harlequin Silk Cushion, fabulous!

Q: What’s exciting for the year ahead?
Who knows what 2022 has install for me! I do hope it's going to be another crazy year of amazing projects, clients and even more glitter. I am currently working on my own project, soon to be releasing my 3rd Collection of handmade cushions! These will be available on my website in March! Shout out to Lynn who makes all my cushion dreams come true! 

Thank you for having me My Doris. 
Big love,
Olivia X