Forging a surreal, unique path: Olivia Bezett
A year or so ago I stumbled across a piece of artwork on Pinterest that I fell in love with. Unfortunately it was something that was not posted by the actual artist, so the pin didn't send me through to a website where I could purchase the piece. The image was a drawing of a bunny with butterfly wings for ears, and I was left on the hunt for the beautiful piece.
Then one day I was roaming Coatesville Market, and as I was waiting for my coffee, I turned around and saw this stall filled with beautiful works of art, all featuring critters and birds, and, you guessed it, the bunny with butterfly wings for ears was staring right at me. I'd found artist Olivia Bezett!
Since then I've added a tui to my collection, and also purchased a pig with a flower crown for my mum, so you could say I'm quite a fan. So it was an absolute honour to be able to interview Bezett about her artwork, and how she's managed to create a full-time job around her love for drawing.
Yarns: First of all, can you give us a rundown of who you are, where you grew up, etc?
Olivia Bezett: My name is Olivia Bezett, and I'm a 19-year-old full-time artist from Orewa, Auckland! I've lived here my whole life, but did spend a lot of my time as a kid at our family farm in Gisborne. Probably where my love for animals was discovered in my early years! I'm a very happy outgoing person. I love experiences, socialising, cooking and baking, I LOVE to travel, and absolutely love animals ... although I'm seriously allergic to them!
Your pieces of art are so unique and stunning; how did it all begin? what made you pick up a pencil and start creating?
I first picked up a pencil probably when I was about two years old! I didn't draw too often, though. My brother was the artist at the time! I tried and failed, up until I was about 14 and started taking art as a subject in school. Even then I didn't have much of an interest in art, though I was getting high marks and art awards — my parents are both artists, and at the time my brother was too! I was trying hard to break the tradition and do something different. I only really fell in love with artwork when my dad gave me a set of Derwent colouring pencils for my 17th birthday. And I was hooked! I left school before my final year, which would have been year 13 in college, and became, to everyone's shock, including mine, a full-time artist. I left my job at a local restaurant, and devoted myself completely to producing artwork and posting it on my Facebook page. I've never looked back!
Where do you get your ideas from — the bunnies with butterfly ears for example?
After making my Facebook page, I was noticing people took to the surreal works more than the usual. Also, there are so many artists drawing animals that it's hard to stand out from the crowd, and doing this full time, I felt I really needed to make my artwork different. I did a stag with multi-coloured antlers, and they sold like crazy. So I decided to push the boundaries and try something crazy — a rabbit with butterfly-wing ears! Truthfully, I was embarrassed to put it up online as it was so wacky and different. It was inspired by my pet rabbits that I've had over the years, and my mum's beautiful woodland garden which has butterflies visiting often. But the embarrassment didn't last long. I was pleasantly surprised at the reaction I got! My following sky-rocketed and I felt inspired to try new things. And thus the surrealism began. I had found my uniqueness!
You said recently you're booked up for two years with commissions! Is that exciting or terrifying?
Two years of commission work is a daunting thought for a 19 year old, in that awkward stage in life where I'm organising moving out, am in and out of the country travelling, and wanting to be out with friends making the most of seeing them when I get to! But, honestly, I am excited to get started on these. Every pet I get asked to draw, or another requested animal, are all so different, and each hold their own unique personalities and expressions. More than anything, though, I love receiving excited emails from my customers after sending them progress photos of their commission piece. I love that my artwork has the ability to make people smile. It really is the best feeling to do that for someone!
You're always out and about at markets — how do you find out about them all, what is the market experience like?
I LOVE markets! I think they're one of the best parts of my job. I started doing them about two years ago, and I find out about new ones from word of mouth from the stallholders. Everyone is so friendly, and they all have such positive and uplifting attitudes. It makes the early mornings so much easier. I also love meeting my followers in person! The General Collective Market is my absolute favourite!
What's in your kit? Do you have preferred artistic tools and canvases to use?
I have a set of over 300 Derwent pencils, some Fabriano acid-free drawing paper, and my desk easel. That's all i need. I can't get enough of sitting down at that easel every day with a blank piece of beautiful paper and my always-trusty Derwent pencils for ‘work’. It's incredible!
Do you have a favourite creation at all? Or do you find yourself falling in love with every single one?
I do fall pretty hard for my bunnies. All of them. I just adore rabbits; I've grown up with them and have one at the moment — Cashew, a mini lop who is just the most amazing pet with such attitude. She's like a small dog; comes to her name, jumps around and does flips when she's happy, and thrives on attention. She even has her own Facebook page because my art fans requested it! That's why I keep drawing them! I'll always have a special thing for my rabbit drawings.
And finally, if people are wanting to find out more about you and your work, where would you direct them?
I'd definitely say my Facebook page is my current main database until I finally get a website. I post very often, but if you can't find it on my page, and if anyone has any questions at all about originals available, how to get on my commissions' waiting list, or where to buy prints, etc., I'm just a message or email away!
- Cats or dogs? Fun fact, I'm allergic to all animals, but it won't stop me! Dog ... a sausage dog to be exact!
- Summer or winter? Wint ... summ ... winter because of the cozy fires and hot chocolates!
- Pizza or burgers? Burgers!
- Wine or beer (or other!)? Not a fan of any type of alcohol ... can I say Cranberry juice?
- Pen or pencil? Pencil of course!
- Physical book or e-book? Physical book for sure! They smell nice.
- Friday or Saturday? Friday! That's date night for me!