I remember my 19 yrs old self – not sure whether I’d better go into sports or fashion journalism and if I’m even capable to become a good journalist with all my fears and lack of self-esteem. Saying nothing about close to zero real job experience. And now I meet Olivia. She is 19 and she is a full-time artist for the last three years with her pictures being sold everywhere from New Zealand to, my God, Alaska. That’s what I call an inspiration!
Olivia Bezett draws cutest surreal animals. And in her case her art is a 100% reflection of her personality. When she enters Heather’s Garden, where we are doing this photoshoot, she looks a bit shy, but still positive and smiling. Can’t stop myself from comparing Olivia with the characters she creates on paper.
Surprisingly, she wasn’t drawing them all her life. She even wasn’t planing to become an artist a few years ago! Olivia was about to enter her last year at school and become qualified chef, when a week before the studies she astonished everyone with the decision to become full-time artist. Right now! "Nothing to do with the fact that I didn’t want to go to school, because I did. And I found it hard to leave all my friends. So it was a really crazy snap decision".
Of course, the first question I ask is about those unusual creatures. How were they created? "I started drawing normal animals, just how they are. But I found that a lot of people were doing the same thing, – says Olivia. – And I wanted my art to stand out for itself. I knew I had to invent something really special". The famous rabbit with the butterfly wings ears was the first experiment and people absolutely loved it.
Generally, looks like people love everything this young lady has to do with. For example, her first solo exhibition at the Endemic World Gallery was a huge success! "I thought only my friends and family would come, but it went really good. I sold a lot of pieces and I was really overwhelmed by how well it went".
From that point her career rocketed. Dealers from Australia, France, Switzerland and even Alaska wanted to sell Olivia Bezett Art. Besides working on the prints for all the stores, Olivia continued to do her commission work. And for those of you wondering what exactly that is, imagine you send a photo of your much beloved pet dog and ask the artist to draw it with, let’s say, the butterfly wings ears (because, why not?). Your dog is a model now and you’re – the owner of the one and only unique piece by Olivia Bezett. Oh yes, and the most patient person on Earth, cause the waiting list for those exclusive paintings is now 3,5 years! Sorry, Hermes Birkin, your time to shine has gone:)
By the way, Olivia also has a pet. And that’s, surprise, a rabbit! If you’re not following rabbit’s own Facebook page yet, make sure you will shortly. "She is hilarious!" – laughs Olivia. I’m not missing the perfect moment and ask Olivia the same question you, guys, were answering a while ago – if she had a chance to have any animal as a pet, who would it be? "Panda! It’s my favorite!" – was an immediate answer.
As our conversation continues, I find out that elephants are Olivia’s newest passion. She has just returned from an inspirational trip to Thailand and Combodia: "The main thing we went to do was an elephant volunteering. We spent a day caring about them. It just makes you feel a lot closer to that subject and I learned a lot". So she is planning a whole elephant series now!
Ironically, with all her love to animals and her favorite art topic, Olivia is badly allergic to any animal! "But I don’t think it might stop me from having pets"
Neither can it stop her from growing her business. She’s been focused on that for the last three years and came to the point, where she literally has no free time – she is either drawing or doing the admin part of work like updating social media or answering the e-mails. Luckily for Olivia, she is not alone – her parents were really supportive and involved all the time. "My dad is an art dealer and a gallery owner, so he’s been helping me with the business side. And my mum is giving me advice with the artistic side. I don’t think I could have done it without them".
As you can see, Olivia comes from a very artistic family. As soon as she starts to speak about her mum, I understand what a huge role she plays in the life of her daughter. She is not only loving mum or reliable business partner, she is an inspiration. Now I know whom she got her talent from: "Her painting are about fairy tales. She calls them "fairy paintings". She can include up to 60 characters in each work. Harry Potter, Mary Poppins – everything we grew up with as a kids – everything in one painting. She was even mentioned in a book about New Zealand famous artists! She is very modest, but she is very good".
We spend some more time chatting about different things and enjoying the beautiful Heather’s Garden. Finally, I ask what brought a girl from Auckland to Tauranga. "I went camping here as a kid. We used to stop at Mount Maunganui. It’s a really nice place with lots of nice shops and restaurants".
Nowadays you can frequently find Olivia Bezett at The Little Big Markets – a popular local event. Or at the Postbank Restaurant&Bar, where she is having dinner after the market. "You never know if you’re in a restaurant or a library there. It’s really beautiful! And they have nice cocktails".