s t e e l e . creatives: Octavia Tomyn

We spent the morning with Melbourne-based artist Octavia Tomyn and learnt more about how fashion and colour influences her life and art...


What did you want to be when you grew up?

It would have been an artist for sure. I drew constantly from the moment I could hold a pencil. It was a basic life need for me along with eating and sleeping. I now see that same need in my girls, they are always drawing as a way to process, relax and create.


How does colour influence your world?

I think I was a little bit synaesthetic when I was younger, which is where you see colours and shapes when you hear words or music. So I understand the importance of colour and its ability to evoke so much thought and feeling on a deep, subconscious level. This is powerful when you get to work with colour and make choices on how to use it. I think I am only just understanding the complexity of colour in art and life, recently exploring how colour can be used in painting to create light, depth and mood.


When and how did you launch your creative business?

I did not have an action plan to begin with, it grew organically from rediscovering a passion and sharing it through social media. I began painting and drawing again on maternity leave with my second daughter in 2018. I shared a little on my personal instagram account and was hugely encouraged by the feedback from my friends and family. I had a couple of requests to commission work so I decided to set up an art account and it grew from there. Back when it was easier to grow organically on instagram, I quickly found I was sending work all around the world! I have grown with my business, improved websites, communications and systems and enjoyed working collaboratively with other creatives.

How does your love of art influence your approach to fashion?

I have always loved fashion and was a designer before kids came along, so I actually think on the flip side, fashion has a huge influence on my art! I have always loved drawing the female form, only now, the figures are a little more nude...

Art influences my fashion choices in that I love shape and form. I'm a big fan of sculptural tailoring and interesting silhouettes.


Describe your ideal holiday. 

It's got to be travelling around Italy drinking wine and eating incredible food through old Tuscan towns, along the clifftop seaside villages, strolling amongst the ancient ruins in Rome, taking in the majestic views of Lake Como, perusing world famous art. For a tiny country it offers an incredible amount of beauty, romance and culture. I can't wait to get back there.


What is the most treasured piece in your wardrobe?

I have this vintage, coral coloured Chloe gown from when Karl Lagerfeld was designing there. My mum gave it to me when I was young, (I think she found it at an op-shop!) and I still have it. It's timeless and elegant and beautifully made. A true special occasion dress.


What role do community and connections play in your creative process?

Community and human connection is the defining subject matter for most of my work. I am inspired by how we relate, love, support and care for one another despite and in celebration of our differences. I am intrigued that our relationships are the most precious thing in our lives and I love to help people honour that.

 What’s on your s t e e l e . wishlist this season?

Umm... everything! But some of my absolute favourites are the Felicia dress to feel super feminine with a nod to old world glamour and a touch of Beth from Yellowstone. IYKYK. Also the sculptural statement sleeves of the Gianna dress and the effortless cool of the Kinsley jacket.


What is your favourite painting, or piece of art in the world? 

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon by Pablo Picasso. It's always been my favourite and when I saw it in real life at MoMA in NYC my heart skipped a beat and it took my breath away.



Restaurant: Lillian is my current favourite. Set up among the skyscrapers, I can imagine I'm in New York again.

Gallery: Got to be the NGV. It's truly world class, we are so lucky to have it and most of the collections are free!

Shopping: I do it all online now. But I don't mind the occasional trip to Chaddy or Doncaster with my mum!

Coffee: I don't actually drink coffee but I do like going out for 'coffee'. Often at Barton, our neighbourhood milk bar turned cafe.

Bar: Eau de Vie because we love creative cocktails.

View: Pretty much any winery in the Yarra Valley. I'm always floored by the stunning scenery and beautiful food - only an hour's drive away.

Florist: I go to Van Gogh in Hawthorn which is actually a florist wholesaler. Huge range and super local.



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