We had the good fortune of connecting with Olivia Yuen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Olivia, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
My small art business, Liv Makes Prints, began as a way for me to reconnect with my creative self. After working for a few years as an art educator and planning art lessons and experiences for my students, I wasn’t dedicating any time to my own personal art practice. Though painting and drawing were my art mediums of choice at the time, I found that exploring something new could help to reignite my creative passion. I delved into learning about linocut block printing and soon after began Liv Makes Prints as a way for me to share my work and connect with the creative community here in Phoenix. As someone who thrives in having set goals or deadlines, merging my artistic practice with a small business became a natural step for me to take. I was also further inspired to do this after experiencing such positive interactions surrounding my creative work.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I create linocut prints which originate from drawings, then carved onto linoleum blocks, inked, and then finally hand-printed on paper. My work reflects a multitude of subject matter and my inspiration comes from a variety of sources. A topic that I my work often conveys is my biracial heritage and experience of being Mexican and Chinese. My art is as much a visual communication to others as it is to my inner self. Above all, I try to stay true to what I genuinely want to create, without letting style or print sales influence a design for a new print. As I am self-taught in the art of printmaking, there have definitely been learning curves when it comes to the art itself and challenges which manifested as self-doubt and imposter syndrome. Finding excitement in a bit of unfamiliarity and in learning something new have helped me overcome these foes to creativity.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
In Phoenix, there are so many gems that I’ve frequented on several occasions. Many of my favorite activities and places to visit are outside in nature, including the Desert Botanical Garden and the Japanese Friendship Garden. These places cater to both my mental and creative well-being. When it comes to food, the list is long! If it were a day trip, morning fuel would be picked up at FUTURO, early afternoon dim sum at The Great Wall restaurant, dinner at Ocotillo, and finally (if you’re still hungry) boba at Milk Run. When I’m not vending at market events, they are also some of my most favorite places to visit and show some local love.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There have been a great handful of people who have pushed me over the years to pursue the arts. I especially appreciate the first few individuals who stopped to view my work or purchase a print from me when I was just starting out. These people influenced me to keep going and creating art, whether they realized it or not. I find comfort in knowing that there is almost always at least one person who will resonate with what you are making.