Octavia Tomyn is a Melbourne based artist who initially began her career as a designer in the fashion industry. After working for some of Australia's biggest retailers and international designers such as Marc Jacobs and Christopher Kane in both New York and London, Octavia returned to the creative expression and art form she has practised since her school years.
Octavia's current work is inspired by her life as a mother, women and extrovert. We caught up with Octavia for a lovely chat and she shared a bit about her professional journey, her career highlights and how she juggles creating art whilst navigating motherhood.
Tell us a little bit about yourself - who are you and how would you describe yourself?
In order, I am a Christian, wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. I have my own art business where I create minimalist line art from my home studio in Melbourne. I have two young girls whom I adore and who keep me extremely busy on top of running a small business! I am an extrovert, foodie, city girl who loves dressing up and eating out.
Can you share a little bit about your professional journey so far - from beginning your career in the fashion industry as a designer to now working as an independent artist?
I began my career in the fashion industry, as a buyers assistant with Honours in Design and a goal to design for large Australian retailers. I moved through positions within the product teams until I took a big step to gain some international experience. I worked on two Fashion Week collections with Marc Jacobs in New York and Christopher Kane in London. When I returned to Australia I started immediately designing for Forever New which is where I stayed until I had my first daughter. I was in my third year of maternity leave from my job and had made the decision to stay at home with my two young girls for the foreseeable future – treasuring this time while they are so little. Having just moved into a new home, I decided to create some art for our bare walls. I returned to the abstract line style I adopted back in school and university, covering the walls with whatever paper I could find just to get my hand moving again. After sharing a few pictures of my process on Instagram, I had a flood of encouragement and requests to create something similar for friends! I was surprised and excited and so satisfied to be creating again. Based on demand and enthusiasm from others, I decided to give this a shot for real and have not looked back! It's been the best work I have ever done. My background in the fashion industry heavily influences my work as an artist in that I am still watching and analysing design trends and still gathering inspiration in moodboard form. It also helps me structure a collection of works and allows me to think commercially as well as creatively, which is important when you have your own business.
You are a mother of two beautiful daughters - How do you juggle creating art and navigate motherhood?
My work as an artist with a fast growing small business and a full time, stay-at-home mum runs alongside each other for most of the day. I have scheduled ‘creating’ time in the middle of the day when my youngest naps and I move in and out of admin, packing, emails and correspondence throughout the day when I have the chance. A lot of this is done before they wake and after bedtime. It’s non-stop and I never take a break during the day, but I love both jobs and am passionate and motivated about them which keeps me going!
Since becoming a mother, how has your outlook on fashion and style evolved?
Comfort, practicality and sensible colours now need to be factored in alongside style and trend. I haven’t converted entirely to active or lounge wear and still feel more myself when I can dress up a bit or create a put together look. High waisted, loose fitting or tapered pants have become a bit of a staple for me, alongside slouchy knits, quality basics and shirts.
You are often commissioned to create family portraits - what does family mean to you?
Family is the most important thing to anybody. The closeness of these relationships is what we are made for and how we thrive. I believe it reflects our Maker who shows us how to love. our closest connections have the ability to grow and strengthen us through challenge and truth. There are times when this proves difficult, and others when there is no greater joy.
What has been a highlight of your career journey so far?
Having my work chosen for this year's season of The Block was really exciting and I have been asked to work on some cool collaborations with brands and creators worldwide. But the true highlights are creating really personal, unique pieces that capture the people or story that is so important to a client. It is a great honour to be trusted with such a thing.
How and/or what do you do to get into a creative mindset and stay motivated?
I listen to podcasts that explore my faith. I find my ‘creating’ time very meditative and I am able to slow down and contemplate things at a level that my normally busy life does not allow for. Also, having work to get on with, such as my commission waitlist is hugely motivating for me, I can’t wait to get stuck into the next project and story. I find it so inspiring.
You are based in Melbourne just as Lois Hazel - What are you most looking forward to this Summer in Melbourne?
Freedom! After a long year of restrictions and lockdown, I am most excited to enjoy the warm weather with friends and family, while appreciating some of the smaller thing we took for once granted.