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Octavia Tomyn.

Octavia Tomyn has lived a life most of us would dream about. A creative, energetic and restless extrovert, she began her career as a designer in the fashion industry in Australia.  She then spent the next 12 years traveling the world to places like New York and London as a fashion buyer, working for high end global fashion labels like Marc Jacobs and Christopher Kane.

But Octavia has always been an artist at heart, ever since she was a teenager with a paintbrush in high school. It was motherhood which eventually brought her back to her artistic roots and which now inspires much of her creative expression. Based in Melbourne and the mother of two girls, Octavia draws on her roles as mother, woman and extrovert to inform and inspire her art, channelling her emotions and relationships into a single, continuous bare line. It may sound simple, but her work is full of colour, movement and human connection, and her paintings have graced the walls of The Block contestant rooms, galleries, fashion collaborations and now we at Land. offer her art as textiles to adorn your furniture!

Octavia has been a dream to collaborate with. She created a gorgeously unique piece of art that we have turned into a textile design, in three colour ways. It comes in the classic ink on ivory linen, a rich cedar colour on a textured oatmeal linen and in a textured, dusty pink with cream linework. Octavia is generous, kind and professional to work with. We connected (and commiserated!) over having two young children throughout lockdowns. Whilst we were never able to meet in person, Octavia has played a very supportive role in helping me with my third child (Land.) and I cannot wait to hug and thank her in person.

Below, I chat with Octavia about balancing motherhood and work, womanhood, her inspirations and motivations and the business of art.

Firstly, how would you describe your artwork?

I create minimalist art built from continuous line techniques. I love capturing relationships and connections between people and telling their story through abstract shape and pattern symbolism.

Have you always been an artist? Did you always want to be an artist? 

I guess I should answer yes to this! But only upon reflection would I dare to do that! It took me a long time to tell people that I am 'an artist'. I have been creating and drawing constantly since I could hold a pencil. It has always been a basic need for me, and I knew I would make it part of every season of life. I did multiple art subjects in school and university and chose to pursue a career in fashion design. After having children, I returned to practicing the line art style I had built folios on in high school and it has led me to now becoming an 'official' professional artist! 

Was there a defining moment that inspired you to follow your passion and start your own business? 

Upon sharing some doodles on my personal Instagram, I was encouraged by friends and requests to create my first commissions. Until then, I was just having fun and getting my creativity flowing again. Once I decided to set up a dedicated account and website, I began to take it one step at a time to follow the growth of this new business. I am very grateful to those who encouraged me in this. Without that I would never have dreamed of making a living this way! I urge all creatives to put themselves out there and listen to feedback. When other people are involved you become accountable and motivated.

Where do you seek inspiration? What is inspiring you right now? 

Aesthetically, I have always been drawn to artists like Picasso, Matisse and Le Corbusier but my career in fashion and design has also had a huge impact on how I collect and process ideas. I am inspired by women, relationships and emotions, history, other creators and trends but my greatest inspiration is my faith and my desire to share God's love in my work and interactions. I am also lucky to be so inspired by the stories I receive for each commissioned piece and where I get a PICTURED: FACES BY OCTAVIA TOMLYN IN CLAY    glimpse into the personal journeys and inspiration of others.

Could you talk us through your creative process?

My creative process always begins with a spontaneous, continuous line drawing. For me, this is a direct expression of my thoughts or feeling in that moment. Sometimes I just leave the piece as a bare, black line and other times I develop the work further, deriving shapes, layering, adding patterns and colour. Each time, I am trying to capture something raw, familiar and fundamental to humanity or tell a story through the line and symbolism.

Running your own business is no joke. What have you found most challenging about creating your own business as an artist? 

Yes, it is a huge amount of responsibility, effort and time. For me the most challenging thing has been balancing my workload with my other job as full time stay-at-home mum! My girls are young and still need a lot from me while my business has grown quickly and needs a lot of attention also. It has taken a bit of trial and error and time to find the right amount of work to take on and how to prioritise it. I am lucky that I can be in control of the workload in that way and am still learning on the job, as the needs of both jobs change.  I guess it will always be like that! I have a pie in the sky goal to have a clearer balance and more defined hours when both of the girls are at school.

What advice would you give anyone who is inspired by you to enter a similar line of work?

Jump in and just begin! These things always start as a side hustle so just get creating and see where it takes you. Even if it’s not very good to begin with, keep creating and you will get better. When you share your work you can use the feedback to hone your skill. Social media is an incredible, free opportunity to share your creativity with the world. Engage with an audience, mentors and peers. Connect with them. Listen to them. Research the platform and other creators to see how it's done well but find your own voice amongst the noise.  It’s scary sharing part of yourself in this way, but if you are honest and authentic, you will find people are very encouraging and gravitate to your originality.

Many of us are now working from home and struggling with productivity. How do you stay productive and motivated working at home?

It's really tough, and I find that as the lockdowns continue to tally up in Melbourne, it is getting harder. I especially empathise with those that are home schooling or who have others to care for while trying to work from home. For me, I feel good if I make some small goals for each day. Something manageable that will chip away at my workload. I set out to draft that artwork, start on ideas for the next commission or paint the first layer of a painting. Small steps that help me move forward but without too much pressure. I think we are all doing our best and its ok to just be surviving through these tricky times. Taking the pressure off where you can is the first step!


Land. is all about focusing on and supporting women. Women juggle so many roles and wear so many hats and we want to highlight this fact, celebrate it and respect it.  Can you please tell us about you, the different roles you play and any secrets you have discovered surviving as both a mother and business owner?

Thank you for lifting up women through your business. I am constantly inspired by the abilities and strength of women. My work as both an artist with a fast growing small business and as a full time, stay-at-home mum runs alongside each other for most of the day. I have scheduled ‘creating’ time in the middle of the day when my youngest has 'quiet time' and I move in and out of both jobs throughout the rest of the day when I have the chance. Admin, packing, emails and correspondence weaves in amongst meal prep, cleaning, activities, shopping, school drop off and play. A lot of my business work is done before my children wake and after bedtime. It’s non-stop and I don't often take a break during the day, but I love both jobs and am passionate and motivated about them, which keeps me going! While mum and business owner are the main roles I play each day, like many other women, I am also a wife/friend/community and church member/volunteer, all which come with their own responsibilities and commitments.

The mental load is real! To manage some of this, I like to involve the girls in my work. I get them painting alongside me, help with packing orders, taking pictures, cleaning the studio etc. This way I'm keeping them busy, spending time with them but also getting some work done.

Octavia Tomyn

Often when one becomes a mother, they reassess who they are and what they want in life to be happy. Did you experience this identity shift and if so, what did you learn about yourself?

Yes, for me it didn't feel right going back into the fast paced, demanding world of fashion while my children were so young. I knew I wanted to be home with them, but there also came a time that my own creative needs and career goals started to shift back into my life. My priorities have reshuffled, circumstances change, but I am still the same person who enjoys the same things so there is a constant redefining of identity and lifestyle. I think that continues to change through the different stages of motherhood too and it is important to adapt and grow with it. Just like in business.

Now to home, what does home mean to you?

I actually contemplate this a lot in my work and for me, home is your safe space, where you can be you. It is your family and loved ones, wherever you are together. It is where you are free to express yourself and be honest, where the pretenses and performances are shed. It is a space where you can rest and recharge, surrounding yourself with the things you love.

How would you describe the style of your home?

I have an old Edwardian home. I'm absolutely obsessed with period features and combining them with an eclectic mix of furniture and art. It is a work in progress that grows with us.

Please name some interior designers that you love? 

I love Richard Shapiro, Kelly Wearstler, Arent & Pyke, Steve Cordony, to name a few. 

Are you currently swooning over any home décor or furniture pieces for your home?

I'm on the hunt for the perfect bedhead, and I am constantly obsessed with all things bedding. I also always keep an eye out for interesting sculptural pieces and rugs that can instantly transform a space.

And finally, what is one thing that might surprise us about you?

I'm a history nerd and I'll watch/read anything about the Titanic, ancient Rome/Greece/Israel, Cherynobyl, local Aboriginal history and the history of my suburb, the last Tsar to name a few.

If you’d like to see more of Octavia’s work, you can find her here: @octavia_tomyn_art