Libby Olson is an up and coming artist from BC who has the unique ability to turn everyday life into something bright, beautiful and even a little bit mind boggling. Learn more about her influences, experience shooting TAIKAN, and more in the exclusive interview below.
Tell us a bit about yourself first. Where are you from? What was your journey towards a creative field?
I grew up in a small lake town in the Shuswap. It’s the type of small town that gives you the freedom to run around, explore for hours, and never see a soul. Ozark vibes. We were constantly outside in the forest, down by the lake, or riding our bikes somewhere. Finally, when I was 15 I saved enough money to buy a go-pro and treated that camera like my first born child. I filmed and edited all the kinda cool, but mostly pointless stuff my friends and I would get up to. By highschool I was really intrigued by the filmmaking process, always watching behind the scenes footage of big Hollywood sets. I was obsessed. The farm style upbringing really pushed me to leave the moment I graduated. I moved to Vancouver, went to film school, and fell in love with all my cinematography classes. From there I became really inspired to constantly be creating.
How did you get into photography specifically and what are your creative goals.In university my mum gave me her old 35mm Canon film camera that she used when my brother and I were growing up. She was great at documenting our childhood and keeping the photos in beautiful photo albums. As an adult looking back at the albums, I’m so appreciative of the effort she put into preserving so many memories. It really pushed me to start exploring film photography. I fell in love with shooting film first, and then once I was learning more in depth about the camera process in school, the rest fell into place. Creatively, I would really love to start exploring different styles of photography. I find myself often shooting more posed, editorial type shoots. Although I still want to continue growing within that style, this year I’d really love to start exploring street and sport photography.
You often work with film/video projects, tell us about your practice capturing motion and how it informs the rest of your work.
Film really inspires and pushes my photography boundaries. I first fell in love with cinematography because I was obsessed with studying colours. With motion picture, you can become so in awe of a film’s colour palette that it really immerses you even further into its world. That is the type of feeling that I want to attempt to bring into my photography. Capturing colours that remind me of beautiful landscapes, or memories, even smells; to me, that’s really what it’s all about!
What/who has been an inspiration for your work lately?
Lots of times, the things that influence my photography are often specific objects or vignettes that evoke a sort of emotion. For example, right now, as the season is changing, dinner parties, campfire sparks, that deep turquoise colour after the sun has set, warm breezes, a six pack of Coronas. All the things that hit you with a wave of summer nostalgia, that type of nostalgia is what I strive to elicit through film and photography. Also a shout out to my little bro! My brother is an architecture student, so lately it’s been really interesting to learn from him about the different branches of design. I’ve been following a lot of architecture pages on instagram lately. The way a lot of these designers are able to bring in beautiful colours and textures to create cohesive spaces is super inspiring.
You’ve spent a good chunk of time in Europe, what do you think the art scene is like out there on the tail end of the pandemic?
Europe just always seems one step ahead. It’s so interesting because I find you never hear the term “starving artist” over there. They have such a community and progressive appreciation for artists that it’s extremely refreshing to be engulfed in that atmosphere. I’ve spent the majority of my time in London, and it’s one of my favourite places because everywhere you look there is some sense of creativity. From the street art, to the billboards, the buildings, and even the advertising posters throughout the tube stations. There is such thought and artistic value in even the most mundane things. It makes you feel like you’re surrounded in a culture that genuinely appreciates aesthetic visuals. I think now, coming hopefully to the tail end of the pandemic, the art scene in Europe has even more of a drive and a hustle to create!
Where did the concept of this TAIKAN collaboration come from? Talk about the concept and energy behind this shoot.For this collaboration I really wanted to focus on a couple elements, movement and colour. The past two years I think have called for so many of us to flow and adapt to new situations that were completely out of our control. I really wanted to capture an editorial that demonstrates that feeling of adaptation. I think the models did a great job of expressing this movement and growth through the guidance of the Taikan Twister board! Colour is also one of my main sources of inspiration, especially for this concept, so I also really wanted to create different colour palettes that would remind people of a specific moment. Whatever that may be for them. The colour palette that takes over the sky in summer right after the sun has set is one of the most comforting sights in my opinion. The beautiful pinks, purples, and blues that develop, instantly releases some sort of serotonin. The combination of those tones is associated with some of my favourite memories. I really wanted people looking at the photos to connect with the colour palette and associate their own favourite summer memory or place.
What is the most rewarding and most difficult part about being a multi-media artist?
One of the most rewarding parts of being a multimedia artist is that because you have multiple tools in your toolbox, you're able to combine different techniques, and draw from different inspirations to capture your end vision. Maybe a film I’ve watched will help inspire the narrative for an editorial photoshoot, or a photograph might inspire the framing for a film I want to shoot. Being able to feed from both forces of inspiration is really rewarding. The most difficult part can be juggling the two mediums. Although they do have lots of similarities, I’ll go through waves of only wanting to shoot film photography, sometimes digital, sometimes I only want to record motion pictures. I often feel pressure to always be in the loop with both film and photography’s own separate worlds. I’ve realized that isn't necessarily sustainable for me personally. There’s times where I need to remind myself to not spiral into a content hole, but instead to be mindful that at the end of the day, for me, it’s just about having fun and capturing meaningful moments.
What’s next? What do you have coming up for the rest of 2022?
Coming up I’ll be starting my Master's and working towards becoming a Therapist. I have so many ideas on ways that we can combine storytelling and mental health, I think a lot of this year will be focused on working towards those goals. In the creative world, I feel extremely fortunate that I’ve got some short films and other editorial collection shoots coming up that will fuel that creative drive. Life’s good!
Check out the all new TAIKAN Spotify playlist custom curated by Libby: