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Using anime art-ivism to provoke island conversations

Using anime art-ivism to provoke island conversations

Sunday 29 August 2021

Using anime art-ivism to provoke island conversations


A 24-year-old ‘art-ivist’ in Jersey is using her distinctive anime style to start conversations on issues ranging from racism to sexism, body dysmorphia and even the Island Plan.

Princess Mononoke has inspired the imaginations of many around the world but, for Olivia Garcia, viewing Hayao Miyazaki’s film stimulated a life-long passion for illustration and animation.

Aged only 10 at the time, Olivia's mind was blown. She knew little of anime at the time, other than the Powerpuff Girls and Pokemon (which she admits is still a big source of inspiration, saying: “I just love how silly and crazy it is, they are so dramatic.").

“I love Studio Ghibli, the imagination and how it talks about such big issues to children in a way they can understand, it’s not trivial topics,” she explains. “That’s what drew me in.”

Olivia’s mum, Manuela, was also a big influence in her budding career

“Art was always just my thing, but my mum writes poetry,” she says.

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Pictured: Olivia says she channels "all of my angst into my art."

I was always around different ideologies and people growing up, it was pretty cool. My mum was always introducing me to different cultures and open mindedness. She would take me to the Alliance Francaise on a Friday, and we would watch international films - my love for films and big concepts and philosophy comes from there. She introduced me to that young.”

Although she was always drawing and taught herself the technique through YouTube videos and a lot of trial and error, Olivia was "in denial about being an artist" for a long time.

After a stint reading Politics at Sussex University, where she would often find herself drawing whilst in lectures, she returned to the island, trying to fit in with a career in finance. Still, she refused to pursue her creative endeavours.

"I didn’t want to be an artist,” she said. "At JCG [her secondary school], they really pushed us to be academic. I didn’t realise what I was doing but I was suppressing my artistic side. It actually made my art better because I was channelling all my angst into my art.”

Again, Olivia refused to embrace drawing as a career. She went to Saudi Arabia to work on a super yacht and save some money.

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Pictured: It was a long time before Olivia accepted she wanted to properly pursue her art.

Again, I was just putting off drawing, I was putting it off and off,” she admits.

During this time, she realised she wanted to go back to university and applied to study Philosophy at King’s College in London, which eventually led her to realise she had been in denial about her art all this time. 

Next month, Olivia will be starting a new degree in film and animation at Bournemouth Arts.

It’s been a long and complicated journey… I just cannot wait,” she says.

“Animation for meit’s the ultimate creativity - they are drawing so many aspects together, they do not have to worry about real life limitations."

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Pictured: Animation is the "ultimate creativity", Olivia says, because there are no "real life limitations".

"Do you know ‘Rick and Morty’?" she continues. "It’s silly but then it talks about something so important, it’s like slipping vegetables into your meal without realising like parents do.

In this sense, Olivia’s drawings are similar.

Some are inspired by specific news stories - her recent 'protest' on La Gigoulande quarry aimed to inspire young people to engage with the Island Plan, for example - while others explore themes of depression, anxiety, body dysmorphia as well as sexuality and the oppression of women.

She explains she wants her art to bring to light issues that are not talked about enough.

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Pictured: Olivia's Island Plan-inspired creation.

I struggle with my words, and I found I could explore the sexism I was experiencing growing up and my views of feminism through the art without experiencing the backlash,” Olivia says.

She also places an emphasis on diversity in her work.

I try to always use multi-coloured skin tones and a lot more coloured people because growing up in Jersey, it’s better now, but I think I was the only Portuguese kid in schooland I still get racially profiled.”

Through her work, she also helps to create images that “help young people to be themselves”.

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Pictured: Ensuring diversity in her images is important to Olivia, who remembers being the "only Portuguese kid in school".

I had no one to look up to in Jerseythere just was not a scene growing up,” she says. “Now it’s pretty good, there’s the skate scene. I just really want to help others and be able to speak my truth.”

To draw and illustrate is one goal but we all have that one dream you think you will never achieve, for me that is making animated films, music videos,” she adds thinking of the future.

I want to work with inspiring artists and directors, that would be my ultimate goal.

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