Olivia Harrison is a self-taught tattoo artist at Black Medicine Tattoo in Chinatown. She also dabbles in illustration and ink paintings. Her work focuses on the beauty of forms found in everyday places from your kitchen spice cabinet to your backyard garden. We recently caught up with her (and her beautiful hair) in Gastown to hear about what she loves about this rad city of ours. Say hello to…
What are three things about your neighbourhood that make you want to live there? I live in North Van. I love how I’m right in the mountains, and hiking spots are really accessible. There are great restaurants popping up all around the Lower Lonsdale area; Il Castello being my favourite. North Van is also really accessible by the SeaBus, so that’s handy.
Favourite place to grub in the city? Bestie, which I seem to be eating every day for dinner lately. Also, MeeT has delicious vegan/vegetarian dishes. They opened a Gastown location not long ago which is convenient for me.
Name three places you would have to take someone new visiting the city: I walk around the city quite a bit, so I would probably take them on a walk through Gastown to look at clothing shops, get lunch at The Ramen Butcher in Chinatown, and then wander down to Crab Park for a picnic.
Is there a Vancouver event you look forward to attending or participating in? I always look forward to The Eastside Flea. There are always so many great people and vendors. Also, we hold flash events at Black Medicine that I participate in where all the artists in our shop have a sheet of flash available to tattoo. People lineup and pick what piece they want from a sheet. It can get pretty hectic but worth it, they’re a lot of fun.
Is there a local artist that you admire? I really admire my friend Katie So who I work with at Black Medicine. She’s a very humble, talented illustrator and tattoo artist.
Why do you think Vancouver is such a good city for independent design? I think because we’re a smaller city; it feels close knit. Thanks to social media, I’ve met a bunch of very talented artists and creators from Vancouver. It’s great to see so many small businesses blossoming here.
Describe your aesthetic: I’ve gravitated towards doing more delicate work with lots of florals and wildlife. My work ends up having a whimsical nature to it.
What music do you listen to while you work? Lately I’ve been listening to Porches, Frankie Cosmos, and Alex G. I listen to a lot of ambient music when I work as well, which keeps me relaxed and focused.
Your instagram name is FearBear? What’s that about? First of all, I really like the way the words looked together. There was a photo of a painting I saw on Flickr years ago and it looked really cool. The caption was FearBear. But really it was the look of the words; the pairing reminded me of “Cellar Door” from the movie Donnie Darko.
Is there a skill you would like to acquire that would improve your craft? I would love to learn how to use oil paints. It’s something my dad used to do a lot of when I was growing up, but I never got around to trying them out.
If you could tattoo anything right now what would it be? I would draw a dog surrounded by wild flowers and grasses. I drew a stylized portrait of Jeff Goldblum a little while ago, which I would also love to tattoo.