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Olivia Hicks is a lady with many strings to her bow. She's not only a talented artist, but also a full time vet. It's perhaps this understanding of animal anatomy which helps her produce such beautiful paintings, and it's easy to see why her striking animal portraits earned top votes in our Spring Competition this year. She took the time to answer our Wraptious interview questions, and talk a little about how she juggles these two very different aspects of her life.
How long have you been an artist?
I studied Veterinary Medicine at university, so there wasn’t a lot of time for art! Over the years since graduating I have dabbled in the odd pet portrait, but only really began doing more painting a couple of years ago. Other than a GCSE in art, I’m self taught.
How did your particular style develop?
I love animals and the countryside, so this seemed a natural area to concentrate on! When I design a composition I try to imagine a slightly different way of looking at my subject – aiming for something perhaps a little more contemporary than a traditional scene.
Which artists do you admire?
I haven’t spent much time studying artists I’m afraid! I’ve always rather loved the pre-Raphaelites but this really doesn’t have much influence on my work!
How did you take the step to start selling your art?
Not many people may realise how stressful and challenging it can be being a vet – and it can be rather all-consuming. About a year ago I realised I wanted to spend more time being creative as a way to maintain my sanity! Life really is too short to not use a talent you know you have, and I thought that perhaps if I could make a bit of a business out of it I could justify splitting my time between vet work and art.
How did you start promoting yourself?
I made a Facebook page and shared it with my friends! A local pub then kindly put some of my canvases up, and one of the veterinary practices I work at also let me put some of my work in their reception.
What's been the biggest challenge you've had to overcome as an artist?
Making time to paint?! It’s very hard to find the time and energy to be creative when I’m still working as a vet the majority of the week – but I need to have faith that putting effort into painting will (hopefully!) pay off, and as I said, I know it is good for me.
What's the best piece of advice you could give to emerging artists?
When I took my first painting to a printer to ask them if they might be able to make prints of it for me, I didn’t know how to transport my painting and I just took it in a Primark paper bag! I said to the printer ‘How do proper artists transport their paintings?’ and he said ‘In Primark bags. You’re a proper artist’. I don’t think he realised how happy that made me!
So my advice would be: ‘You’re an artist – never think you’re not good enough.’
Why did you decide to enter the competition? How have you found the process?
I saw Wraptious on Twitter last year and read about their competitions. I thought that my work would fit in with the kind of things they produced, so kept an eye on when they launched the next competition. I can’t quite believe I was one of the winners though – when so many great artists entered. I need to refer myself to my answer to number 7!
In an ideal world, what would you be doing?
Splitting my time between painting in my country cottage and travelling the world working in charity vet clinics where there is a lack of good veterinary care for the local animals.