Interview with Octavia Bromell
We are thrilled to welcome Octavia Bromell as a 2020 Big Draw Festival Ambassador! She is currently the Adobe Creative Resident for the UK as well as an innovative creator, mental health ambassador and Etsy shop extraordinnaire. Her commitment to sustainable practice and positive protest make her an ideal creative to represent our 2020 Big Draw Festival theme, The Big Green Draw, A Climate of Change.
Get to know Octavia better below - be sure to follow her to see her bright and uplifting illustrations!
Interview: Devon Turner in conversation with Octavia Bromell.
We appreciate you taking the time to share a bit about yourself and your practice with us. Your mental health advocacy, digital engagement experience and all-around fabulous illustrations make you an ideal person to represent The Big Green Draw: A Climate of Change and inspire organisers with great ways to create art digitally! Can you share with us how you first became familiar with The Big Draw?
I gave a Today At Apple session at the Covent Garden store last October, as part of a collaboration with Adobe, Apple, and The Big Draw. As part of the planning I got a bit more involved with the festival, and ended up going to the awards in Manchester, which was so great. I got to talk to these incredibly talented kids who were getting an award for their creativity, and of course meet the lovely Big Draw team!
As the 2019 Adobe Creative Resident from the UK, you’ve been creating illustrations related to the theme of The Joyful Everyday — the idea that happiness can be found in the minutiae of daily life. Can you share more about this project with us? We need some joy especially during these uncertain times.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how my project feels more relevant now than ever. The Joyful Everyday to me is the act of slowing down enough to appreciate the life that you have right now, and it stems from my personal experiences with anxiety and depression. I started drawing as therapy, and have been fortunate enough to build up a career as an illustrator, so I wanted to use my year as an Adobe Creative Resident to create work on the theme of appreciating the little things in life! I started with a 100 day drawing challenge, where every day I picked something small that brought me joy and drew that, and shared it and the process with people. It’s been wonderful dedicating a year to making work on a theme that’s so meaningful for me, and even more amazing has been the response, and the connections I’ve made with people all over the world because of our shared experiences!
You’ve been sharing your beautiful works and process videos through blog posts and social media. Do you have any advice for budding artists and illustrators that are digitally looking to share their practice?
Perfection really is the enemy of success. Try to post things even if you aren’t happy with them. For starters, you’ll almost definitely find that some people will like the things that you don’t (which is the wonderful thing about art being so subjective) but more importantly, I think you have to be in it for the long haul. I give a lot of workshops on business skills for creatives, and I think people get put off if they don’t get 1000 followers and bunch of work overnight. The good news is that people are as interested in your growth and your progress as they are in the final thing, in my experience! So get stuck in, and share your wonderful work with the world!
Art has consistently been a vehicle for you to positivity and happiness during struggles with anxiety and depression. Can you share with us how you first began creating as a means of coping?
I had a nervous breakdown a few years ago and had a fundamental shift in my life. I moved from London, where I studied for 5 years, back to my childhood home in Dorset, in the middle of nowhere. I went from living a 3 minute walk from a 24hr tube, to my tiny village, with no street lights, no public transport, and hardly any people. As I gradually started on the road to recovery, I began drawing as a way of passing the time. I was quickly hooked, finding it engrossing, relaxing and really fulfilling, at a time of my life where I didn’t really have a purpose. I feel unbelievably privileged to be able to call my therapy my job, and it brings me joy every day, which I guess is why it’s so important to me to share that with people where possible!
How does our 2020 theme, “The Big Green Draw: A Climate of Change” resonate with you personally? What kind of opportunities do you think there might be for festival organisers to digitally engage doodlers and drawers internationally?
I think that the impact we’re having on the environment has never been more clear, or important to recognise. I have really simplified my life in recent years, living in the relatively untouched countryside I feel so lucky. We compost everything, have local veg delivered, milk on the doorstep in glass bottles, basically do everything we can to limit our impact on the environment. Nature has become so important to me, and to my wellbeing, that I think it’s also really important to me to protect it where I can. I think a simple thing everyone could do would be to take some paper outside and just draw leaf shapes, or do bark rubbings, or count the number of bees that buzz past you. I think the more we notice what’s going on around us, the more it will matter to us. Again, it’s the act of slowing down enough to see it in the first place!
What’s next for you Octavia? Where can our hordes of doodle-enthusiasts find you and your illustrations?
I’m working on my first book currently, and am continuing to do workshops (mainly online), running my Etsy shop, and trying to paint as much as I can! There’s a lot of really exciting things in the pipeline that I can’t really talk about yet. It’s a busy life, but I love it! You can find me on Instagram @tinkoutsidethebox, Twitter @octaviabromell or my website is tinkoutsidethebox.com
Thank you Octavia!