Psychedelic artist Olivia D’Orazi is a California native who attended art school at the University of the Arts in London. She makes use of still and moving images to bring her otherworldly visions to life, including live visual performances at rock and roll shows. Her images and prints view nature through a psychedelic lens originally belonging to the counterculture of the 60s and 70s, but distinct in its appeal to modern, bohemian taste. Read on to discover the magic and inspiration behind Olivia’s groovy artwork.
Can you describe the path you took from your small hometown of Paradise, California to pursuing psychedelic visuals and landscapes as an art form? What is the story behind the inspiration?
Growing up I didn’t really view myself as an artist because I wasn’t the best at traditional art forms like drawing. However, I was always surrounded by creativity, beautiful landscapes and creative people. Both my parents are musicians and my mom is also a fashion designer. They were raised in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1960’s /70’s and were/are total hippies which has heavily influenced me and my work.
I moved from Paradise to Long Beach when I was 17 to study and earned a BA in Fashion Merchandising from California State University, Long Beach. While I was attending school there I did a study abroad program in London which I fell in love with. I had a very intense obsession with London and it’s culture. I knew I needed to live there full-time so when I graduated from Long Beach in 2012, I moved straight to London and started studying at the University of the Arts, London on their Creative Direction course. It was never my plan to attend art school and when I was accepted at this world-renowned university I was rather shocked and incredibly excited! In my second term at University of the Arts our project was to create a moving image piece. It was while working on this project I created my first liquid light show and discovered my own psychedelic art form. Within that year I experimented with and made more psychedelic films and a music video for the band Night Beats and started working in projections, which then led to other musicians contacting me and wanting to work with me.
“Once I have created my liquid light shows I then mix them with footage of landscapes from my life and travels to create something colorful, dreamy and otherworldly.”
All fans of live psychedelic music have wondered how one goes about creating the dreamy visuals that accompany the music. Are you self-taught? Can you give us a little insight into your technique and materials?
When I set out to create my first liquid light show I did extensive research on the original artists from the 60’s who were working in San Francisco, London and New York. Each city had its own techniques and tricks of the trade. Traditional liquid light shows involve heating up oils and dyes in glass clock-faces on top of overhead projectors, which then project on to the performers. I did not have access to an overhead projector so I started developing my own techniques and using what I had, it’s all about improvising. My visuals mix the traditional liquid light show with new technology. I start out by making my own traditional liquid light shows in my home and filming them on my iPhone. Everything I make is filmed/photographed on my iPhone and manipulated with different lenses and tools. Once I have created my liquid light shows I then mix them with footage of landscapes from my life and travels to create something colorful, dreamy and otherworldly.
When you say you are inspired by the counterculture of the 60s and 70s, are there any particular events or people involved in those eras who you find particularly inspiring or who helped shape your vision the most? What is it about them that rocks your world?
My inspiration comes from my parents and their stories from those eras. They were there, they lived it and I have an incredibly close relationship with my parents. I am basically my mom’s flowerchild. My parents raised me listening to music of the 60’s and 70’s, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jefferson Airplane, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Donovan, the list goes on & on. My mom has the most amazing record collection and I remember looking at all of the album covers from a young age being very intrigued by not only the sounds but the artwork. What really resonates with me about the hippie and psychedelic counterculture is not only the music, art and fashion but the strong beliefs of peace and love. Who doesn’t want to live in a world immersed in peace and love being shown through the arts? They started a movement that changed the post-modern world forever. I’d also just like to add that aside from my parents, Keith Richards, Bob Dylan & George Harrison truly rock my world!
“Countercultures emerge because individuals form groups with like-minded people in hopes to either promote change or to create an experience they feel has been missing from their lives.”
There is a huge resurgence in the art and ideals of the 60s and 70s counterculture. In your opinion, what is it about that time period that makes it so relevant to today’s artists and people in general?
I did my entire dissertation at University of the Arts on the resurgence of the psychedelic counterculture in this day and age. Countercultures emerge because individuals form groups with like-minded people in hopes to either promote change or to create an experience they feel has been missing from their lives. I think people today have felt a lack of real depth and closeness with others from the emergence of social media, which ironically is supposed to bring us closer. I believe people are looking to the 60’s and 70’s for inspiration because it was a time of new creativity, experimentation and freedom. People and artists alike want to feel free to express themselves in whatever form they so chose and that is what those eras embodied. Also, like me, the generation of today has been raised by those of the original counterculture, influencing them in not only their ideals but also their art.
You seem to work mainly within the realm of music and musicians. What is it about working with music and musicians that you love?
Well, I wanted to be a rock star from a young age, so this is my way of being one through my art. Music has been one of my strongest influences in my life. I started working as a visual artist because of music, and like I stated before, I originally started out making films/music videos and always wanted to do live visuals for bands but hadn’t had the right opportunity yet. One night in London at a Growlers concert I met a musician who loved my art and wanted to start a psychedelic event production company, a couples months later we had our first show and I did my visuals for the first time. Since music inspires my life, it only seemed right to work within the musical realm, and, luckily for me, bands dig my art and contact me to collaborate.
Who is your favorite band, past or present?
That’s really hard to say, but my favorite band of the past would be Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. I absolutely adore them! You can’t go wrong with their music; it’s magic. Favorite band of the present would probably be Animal Collective, because they have not only kick-ass music but groovy artwork!
You grew up in an area of Northern California that abounds with natural beauty and now reside in sunny, sandy, Southern California. Since much of your art has its foundation in nature, is there a particular type of landscape or place in the world that you find most inspiring & what is it that captures your heart?
Along with art and music, traveling is my other love. I’ve been lucky enough to live, travel and tour all over the world at a young age. I must say Big Sur is definitely a place that has captured my heart. I’ve only visited once but it was one of the most magical beautiful experiences of my life. I stayed in a colorful cabin in the woods on top of a mountain with one of my best friends, who is also an artist. Waking up in the fog of the mountains, immersed in the trees with a view of the ocean was indescribable. I got a lot of new footage and work from that trip which still inspires me to this day. I’m going back later this year and can’t wait to explore more.
What is your favorite art project of your own thus far, and why?
I have two. One was creating liquid light shows for the Royal Academy of Art in London in collaboration with a Dennis Hopper photography exhibit. I was selected by my school to exhibit and it was the biggest honor to showcase my work alongside a counterculture icon. My other favorite are the live visuals I did for a European tour with a band called Leave The Planet. It was the perfect combination of art, music and travel. I made all brand new content for the tour in my flat in London and live mixed the films each night for their show.
Do you have any projects in the works? What are your future plans for your art? Any upcoming events?
Recently, I’ve created an online store in which to purchase prints of my art, which has been really exciting! I’m currently brainstorming on some new ideas with my mom for a home décor, clothing line with my art as the prints. We have already created some groovy eco-friendly tote bags from my art but want to expand. I’m also hoping to have an exhibit in LA sometime this year showcasing my photography and projections. And as always, I will be working alongside bands at their shows doing their visuals. You can follow my Instagram and check my website to keep up to date on all the groovy happenings.
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