How Photographer Olivia Locher Made Her Creative Career Happen
With a clever take on everyday life and serious love for color, Olivia Locher’s rainbow aesthetic is all your Tumblr dreams come to life. So it’s no surprise, then, that this 27-year-old NYC artist and photographer has won a massive following online for her surreal images of food, fashion, and tongue-in-cheek touches.
Whether it’s a melty ice cream cone in the pocket of white Levi’s or Bella Hadid smirking backstage at Fashion Week, Olivia’s bubbly style has landed her in New York Magazine, W, and even her own photo book (the brilliant I Fought the Law). But she’s the first to tell you that success hasn’t been easy. See how Olivia got to where she is—plus, see where she’s going!—below.
What were you like as a teen?
I grew up in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a small rust belt town near Pittsburgh. I was such a shy girl. I was a total space cadet who lived in my own head; I was homeschooled and enjoyed spending a lot of time alone. I was obsessed with fashion, films, and music, so I absorbed a lot of content. My timidness didn’t hold me back from trying very bold things. I got my first tattoos at 13 years old and stopped getting them completely by 16. Needless to say, these tattoos are large and all those people who told me “They won’t wash off” were right.
As an adult, what do you wish you could tell your teenage self now?
Often times I still feel a lot like that teenage girl, like time has just passed and progressed. I would tell myself that people are not as scary as you think they are. I’d also tell her that following her dreams and being honest to herself is always the answer.
How exactly did you get to where you are now, professionally?
As a teen I found a true love for photography, so I obsessively kept making work and practicing. I applied to universities in NYC, and to my surprise, SVA awarded me with a scholarship. I received my BFA and developed my style and voice there. I’ve gotten to where I am professionally by staying consistent and always trusting my ideas. After time, editors started to notice my personal work and commissioned me to photograph stories for magazines, fashion companies, etc. I’ve found that when I’m making a lot of work for my own projects, it leads to more commercial work.
What's one thing you wish had known then that you know now about having a career?
I wish I would have known that freelancing is not easy and it’s always an uphill battle. A career in the arts is a very slow climb that doesn’t pay well or consistently. However, I’m doing the thing I truly love so it makes any hardships all worth it. My job is to wake up and create whatever it is I want, and that’s a dream come true.
Rejection and failure is often part of early success. What’s your advice for dealing?
Don't be afraid of your failures. They will feel terrible at the time, but you’ll learn the absolute most from them. Meditate on the things in your career and life that didn’t go well. I’ve learned the very most from these experiences. After the emotions of failure settle down, you can evaluate what went wrong. It allows you to discover who you are as a person and what you believe in.
What's one popular misconception about making a living as an artist/photographer that you want to point out?
That it’s not a glamorous lifestyle! There can be moments of unbelievable glamour, but these occasions are not a day-to-day occurrence.