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Meet San Fernando Valley Graphic Artist: Olivia Kowalczyk

Today we’d like to introduce you to Olivia Kowalczyk.

Olivia, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Growing up I was heavily involved in the arts. My parents enrolled me in adult painting classes in second grade and I naturally grasped how to apply paint to the canvas. I started out with landscapes, learning perspective, light, and texture. As I grew older I broke away from traditional art and started to develop my own style. During this time I immersed myself deep into the skate scene and became obsessed with skateboard companies and their logos. I would recreate their logos and come up with my own. When I entered high school that’s when I knew what I wanted to do. I had some of the most inspiring art teachers who guided me for 4 years. Within those years I took painting classes along with graphic design. I learning to use Illustrator and Photoshop. From there a light bulb hit. I knew this is what I wanted to do with my life. I begged my parents for a laptop for Christmas and I saved up for the design programs. From there I practiced at home daily and the pen tool became my best friend. After high school, I started doing small freelance design around my town and enrolled into community college. I hated community college because the design courses just felt too basic and I already knew so much going in from high school. I started looking up universities and found that Full Sail University in Florida worked for me. In 2009 I said my goodbyes to my family and started my journey leading towards my professional design career. I finished up school with amazing memories and so much much knowledge. At school, I learned videography and editing. That became my second love. With everything I learned, I decided to pack up everything and move straight to California. Many told me it was a bold mood, not having much of a savings and nowhere to live. But something drew me there and I ignored people’s warnings. I made it to Cali with my dog and I did encounter many hardships. But it all drove me to work hard and keep myself in Los Angeles. I struggled tons, but art kept me going. I didn’t give up and I didn’t move back home. Couple years went by and now since my move and I’m beyond proud of myself. I’ve made many amazing connections and worked some great jobs. My favorite experience was working for Funny Or Die. There I really honed my skills and met some very talented individuals. Everything I ever done was a learning experience and will continue leading me down the right path. Currently, I freelance because it’s fun working different jobs and different people. I’m continuing reaching my goals and refuse to loose my drive. Apart from design, I still paint and work on personal art pieces. I love posting my work in progress on social media and sharing with the world my passion for art.

Has it been a smooth road?
It has not been a smooth road. When I moved out on my own to Cali I was like a lost puppy. I didn’t know how to put myself out there or my art. I had trouble finding work and surrounded myself with not the best people and got told a lot of false promises when networking and ran into so many dead ends. I got scammed a few times too.

What are your plans for the future?
I have so many plans! But one of my biggest goals is to start a brand. Start small with shirts and expand to all kinds of clothes. That is in the works right now but won’t be available to release for a while. I have a lot of research to do. Currently, I’ve been making more moves with contacting clothing brands, other artists, and photographers to collab with. I love working with fresh new minds and creating rad things.

Let’s go backward a bit – can you tell us about the most trying time in your career?
The hardest time for me was a few years ago. Me and a roommate decided to move and live separately. I decided at that time to move out of LA and go further out to Upland California. There I thought I could start fresh and perhaps focus on myself more as an artist/get work. Well, boy was I wrong. I couldn’t find work anywhere and 3 months living by myself struggling to pay rent, bills, and food I had to break my lease and find a new place. Thankfully I have great friends and I was able to have a roof over my head and be back in LA. It took months after moving to get back on my feet with work and all that but I stuck it out. That whole rest of the year was a struggle. I remember applying to design jobs and hearing nothing back. I finally got an interview one time and after my meeting with that particular company, I was told that I was over experienced for the job and they went with someone with less capabilities. My mind was blown! I was so bummed out and just wanted a job in my field. I remember telling them I’d do anything they needed and to never overstep boundaries with my experience. All they told me was sorry and good luck. Eventually, I got hired at small firms and just really pushed at my freelance to get to where I’m at now.

Are there days when you feel like you’ve done everything you wanted to, careerwise – the “I’ve made it” kind of moments?
My all time moment where I felt that I made it was working for Funny Or Die. I really thought there I would grow and be with a successful company for once. I was on contract for 8 months ish and then was let go because the creative director told me the company was changing and didn’t need my services any longer. I really thought I’d be hired for long-term after my contract ended cause I really gave it my all and met crazy deadlines always on time and just really showed off my skills in photoshop and Illustrator. But things happen and I moved on a stronger designer. That experience opened a few doors after and I’m always grateful. My career is def on a positive path now more than ever and I know it will continue to grow.

Contact Info:

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1 Comment

  1. Linda E. Miller

    November 16, 2016 at 17:23

    I am so happy that you were able to follow your goals and as they evolve, I hope you will expand and create more of your designs. I am very happy that my son, Douglas Miller, was able to be part of your early journey. I feel the same about the artists/ teachers that guided me in my art and my life. Joy & Peace, Linda Miller

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