Olivia was born in Philadelphia, PA and raised Hartford, CT with her older brother and younger sister. Her parents are originally from Saigon, Vietnam, as she described her upbringing as very traditional and structured for cultural reasons. “They always had the game plan of go to school, graduate, get a successful job, and take care of them at the end of the day,” she said. Art wasn’t always a top career choice for her parents, but Olivia’s success has changed their minds and afforded her the opportunity to relocate to Atlanta. It’s become apparent that art will indeed be that successful job that helps Olivia provide for her family.
Olivia and I sat down in Atlanta in the living room of her home studio. As I entered I was immediately captivated by the creative environment she was living in. The colorful paintings on the walls and ascending up the staircase were impressive to say the least. I was primed up for a good conversation! Olivia is a graduate of Central Connecticut State University where she studied Art and Marketing. Currently, Olivia is a full time Pop Artist earnestly surviving off the fruits of her own labor. With Olivia hosting galleries in DC, NYC, LA, Miami, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, her clientele and popularity has sky rocketed! Accounting for over 13,000 followers on Instagram, Olivia uses her massive influence to inspire the youth and empower women. The passion and authenticity in Olivia’s work has captured the interest and support of rap moguls Big Sean, 50 cent, & Rick Ross. Her creative marketing and presentation is simply icing on the cake. Olivia describes her move to Atlanta as “only the beginning” and I believe her! We present a brilliant artistic talent in this week’s #ShineHard Conversation.
Watch the Interview!
Who did you look up to as a kid?
Olivia: I feel like I looked up to a lot of people. When you’re going to school and you meet upper classmen that you think are so cool. You start looking up to people you see on TV and all that. But I have to say one of my truest role models, that has impacted my work as an artist and how I do things is Kanye West. I just think he’s a genius in a lot of things that he does. He doesn’t care what people think of him and he makes remarkable material that influences us all.
How did you get started as an artist?
Olivia: I started art when I was really young. It was something to easily get into. You give a child crayons and a sketch book, they’ll sit in the corner and stay there for hours. When I was younger I used to watch a lot of shows that involved art. I’m not sure if people can remember Bob Ross on CBS, but yeah haha, he used to paint happy trees. When he died I was devastated as a child. I went to my dad one day, “I was wondering if you can get me the more expensive art materials.” and he did and my mom was so mad at him. She was like, “We have bills to pay.” Then he enrolled me in art camps at local museums and then he would show his friends like, “Hey my daughter can draw!” He was so proud. Art became a daily thing for me in middle school and high school. I did OK in academic art and I was offered an art scholarship to go to college.
Tell me about your brand FiyaBomb & why you consider yourself a Pop Artist.
Olivia: I like to think of myself as a well-rounded, universal, renaissance artist. I don’t only paint. I do different things and use my creativity to activate everything that I do. I don’t like to stay in one lane. I like to do everything. I consider myself a pop artist because a lot of the work I do is very vibrant and colorful. It’s bright! I find colors like black, white, and gray to be very classic and powerful, but at the same time, when I go downtown Connecticut I don’t see a lot of color. But as soon as I turn the corner and see a mural it brings such life to you! It literally changes everyone’s attitudes and mood. I’m such a huge fan of color.
Do you have any art mentors?
Olivia: Umm it’s so crazy, but I actually don’t. I was self taught. I was one of those children where you look at someone else do something and when you’re younger you grab so much more of that information in your mind. It’s like, “Wow I remember it!” and even when you get older you’ll never forget that first time you fell in love with something. I’ve always done things my own way and even when I was in college I would bump heads with my professors. It’s one of my pet peeves to be told what to do with art. You can’t tell somebody how to do them. I feel like as artist we shouldn’t be taught how to do things just one way.
What is your passion and when did you know?
Olivia: My passion, I’ve always loved art. I didn’t take it as seriously as I did three years ago. When you go through college you go through a stand still point where you don’t know what going to happen after college. You don’t know if you’re going to find that job. When I was a junior I wanted to drop out. I was told by so many professors, “It’s too hard, artists are starving.” It was very discouraging to hear this because I was looking for encouragement. They told me to be a teacher or change my major to nursing! I was so disappointed in my art adviser. I was going through a lot before graduation just to get the degree, but I found my art to be a huge escape. It took me to a place where I felt like nothing could stop me.
Whats been your biggest challenge?
Olivia: I think my biggest challenge has been to keep it going. Keeping the inspiration alive. A lot of writer’s have writers block, artists have artists block. There are some days when I literally can’t think of what to paint, or creating things that will keep my audience allured.
What are the three attributes of a great artist?
Olivia: Oh! I like this question. One is definitely creativity. Two is originality. Then three, I want to say, to be truthful with oneself. You gotta be true to yourself. You can’t lie to yourself.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Olivia: It’s so crazy. I find my inspiration in quotes. I find my inspiration in women. I find my inspiration in a lot of the things I go through as a female entrepreneur. Honestly, they tell you it’s a “man’s world,” and I will say it’s intimidating when you go inside a room full of men who do the same thing too. When you walk in, they’ll do anything to discourage you or break you down just because you’re a girl. I’m inspired by those people that underestimate me.
What is your biggest fear?/span>
Olivia: One of my biggest fears is being stopped, but I would never let that happen. I really really don’t like feeling like I wasn’t productive in my days. I make sure I paint and create every single day. I mail out pieces to clients, go through all my emails & messages, or just go to the gym. I try to do something every single day that is going to thank Fiyabomb later.
What would you say is the #1 factor to your success?
Olivia: I want to say the number one factor to my success is me being consistent with my art. Me just letting my art flow through what I feel and my creative marketing.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Olivia: Before when someone asked me that it was doing work for the celebrities that I’ve met, but now my answer has changed. I think the biggest accomplishment I ever did was relocate. I was raised in Connecticut where a lot of people are not familiar with what we do. I would have never thought I could relocate 1000 miles away to a major city to expand my brand with art money. If you would have asked me about Atlanta three years ago, I might have still been at the nail salon. It took a lot of courage and it’s scary but because of this move I know there are no limits.
What is your end goal professionally?
Olivia: A lot of artists are usually unknown until they die, and the things is, I don’t want to be one of those artists. I want to be an icon artist. I want someone to speak about Fiyabomb in the same sentence as Andy Warhol or Basquiat and this is before I die. That’s my end goal. If I made that impact alive or dead, I did it.
What advice do you have for aspiring pop artists
Olivia: You have to be consistent! You have to take yourself THAT seriously. You owe this to yourself. No one is gonna hand you anything, you actually want to be the one who is handing stuff out. Life is short and you don’t know what to expect from it. You want to end this life knowing you did everything you could to better yourself as an individual. You owe it to yourself.
Johnny: Right on! Only one life to live. Olivia, we’re very excited to welcome you into The @ShineHardFamily!
Interested in learning more or connecting with Olivia?