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Artist Olivia Locher: Somewhere Between Dreamlands and Consciousness

by Topher Kelly
featured, photo & video

A portrait of the artist.

A portrait of the artist.

Every one of these things is illegal: putting cheese on pie in Wisconsin, ice cream in your back pocket in Alabama, bicycles in pools in California, “unusual” children’s haircuts in the great state of Texas, and more that make us laugh so hard we can’t even write them down. Without  22-year-old Manhattan-based artist Olivia Locher‘s I Fought The Law Project, most of us wouldn’t have known about any of these ludicrous laws. In an effort to learn more about this up-and-coming artist, we asked her a few questions about her creative vision, how she got started, and more.

cL: We don’t want to be super formal here, but could you tell us how you got started?  What drove you to photography and to express yourself from behind the lens?
Olivia: My story is a bit odd. As a young lady (about 14 or 15 years old) I made casual snapshots of friends and things I found interesting and posted them on a public blog. One day, a mysterious box arrived at my house from Fed Ex containing a Nikkormat FT2 and several lenses, it was sent from a stranger and follower of my blog-life. My work really took off from there, I was home schooled so I put aside a lot of time for making photographs. When I turned 18 I decided to study photography at SVA in NYC. I graduated from art school last May.

How would you define your style?
It seems to sit somewhere between dreamlands and consciousness. I am very keen on color and I seem to have a way of seeing that mixes concept with humor.

Where do you normally work?
I mostly work in my Manhattan studio, but I also spend time working at my families home in Pennsylvania.

Where do you go for inspiration?
I am a huge collector of art books. I also really enjoy music and avant garde cinema.

What everyone really wants to know is how did you come up with the I Fought the Law Project? And how did you find those laws?
After hearing about some of these laws, I instantly knew they would translate well into a photographic set of images. I have found most of them through doing web research. The hardest part of the project has been tracking the laws’ origins.

Besides creating powerful, hilarious images, what was the motivation behind the project?
It just felt like something I had to do, I started the project pretty impulsively. I quickly came to the realization that I need to make one image per state. Upon the completion of the project I’d love for it to become a book project.

How about your other projects? “How To” takes such simple ideas and puts a really creative spin on it that I love.
Thanks! I am still working on the “How To” project. It is a lot of fun putting together all of the pieces and seeing the ideas come to life. Currently my main creative focus has been the law project, and I’m also working on my first feature-length film titled, “The Sun in My Mouth.”

From your point of view, what’s the key to putting together a portfolio that defines your style?
I believe that it is crucial to be constantly producing while also conditioning technique. I’m always working on something (or multiple projects). I believe imagery can have a conversation and relate even if the images are unrelated, but I think editing becomes crucial. I consider each photograph to be like building sculpture, the works already existing help you decide what move to make next. I spend a lot of time living with my work and a clarity seems to form on what to place together.

Where can we find out more about you and your work?
I can tell you a bit about myself  right now! I was born 22 years ago in Johnstown, Pennsylvania I spent my life there until I moved to Manhattan. I am going on my fifth year living in NYC. You can see more of my work at my website.

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Topher Kelly

Topher Kelly is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and editor at CreativeLive. Follow Topher on Twitter@Topher_LIVE.