Olivia Twist unpacks the colorful layers of her community-driven illustration practice

First to take the stage at April’s Nicer Tuesdays was Olivia Twist, who was an absolute delight as she humorously walked us through her journey and style development as a designer. Beginning with a quip to the audience – “yeah yeah” – as she said she was from East London (where Nicer Tuesdays take place), she then began to delve into her inspirational philosophy as a illustrator. “I aim to shock the familiar,” she explained, emphasizing the importance of turning the mundane into something special through her work. From colorful scenes of people on buses to trainers – many trainers – she showed that there are many ways to tell a story, and it doesn’t have to be derived from something spectacular. “As an illustrator, I want to capture social history as it unfolds; I want to help fill in the missing chapters; I want to make it easier for marginalized communities to look back,” she said. “I use drawing as a conversation tool.”

Above all, Olivia explained how she wants to encourage “seating”. Achieved through extensive research and a passion for her subject, she takes a human-centered approach to her practice – collecting, listening and becoming part of the furnishings. We’ve seen this come to life through a collection of eye-catching, conversation-initiating designs, which included work for The Guardian, Sports Direct, St Christopher’s Hospice and a powerful project responding to Don’t Zap The Zip, a campaign against government plans to end free travel for 16-18 year olds. Olivia’s work has a clear motivation and mission, and we couldn’t have asked for a more energetic and motivational talk to start the evening’s events, which you can enjoy now!