Olivia Twist on how she landed on the sketchy illustration style we all know and love

Olivia Twist on how she landed on the sketchy illustration style we all know and love

When it comes to the process behind making one of her illustrations, Olivia doesn’t need anything fancy. Rather, she utilises found materials such as odd bits of coloured cards plus pretty much anything else she can get her hands on. Black marker pens are the most visited tool, chosen for its permanence and boldness. “I love how the pen bleeds and how when the pen is running out you can use it for shading,” she says. “The different ink levels help me make black colourful in my work.” It also takes time for Olivia to make her pieces, as she’ll often work up a sketch, take some moments away from it and return to finish off the final elements such as the texture and personal details of her characters. “I love doing detail on the cheekbones, lips and hair, of course. You almost feel like a hairdresser, making sure the fade is flowing smoothly.”

Pointing us in the direction of a few of her recent (and favoured) pieces, first there’s Baking for mum, an illustration made just before lockdown. Awash in a vibrant tone of mustard yellow, the image details her brother – kitted out in sports training gear – baking a cake for Mother’s Day. It was a period filled with uncertainty, where society turned towards simple pleasures like kneading bread and cooking up sweet treats. Meanwhile The party don’t stop is a piece crafted in response to a “shoddy” landlord, she says, who’d left Olivia and her housemates with unwanted furniture piled in the living room for the entirety of their tenancy. “We hated it but then got used to having a bed base in the sitting room. I made this to talk about the difficulties of renting in London – communal living is rewarding but also challenging.”

This picture, much like the rest of her portfolio, pinpoints the illustrator’s drive to address important topics prevailing among society – including uprisings, protests and the housing crisis. “The housing market is really difficult for millennials,” she says, “we aspire to buy but the process of renting and saving is long. But may as well have fun while you’re in it.”

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