By Ally Oberrotman
LA, 2016: An overcrowded city filled with overwhelming dreamers and underrated artists. Somehow we've all ended up here and don’t feel like crawling out of --- or don’t know how to. It’s the rabbit hole we’ve fallen down and are taking up residence in. For now, at least.
Meet Olivia Accardo – ambitious, interesting, funny. It’s hard to not describe her as beautifully alluring, so I will.
We met after the opening of First Kiss, a multimedia showcase presented by Girl on Girl at Junior High and curated by Accardo. Girl on Girl is “an experiment aimed at creating an environment for female artists to create, learn and collaborate with one another."
So I liked her from the moment I saw her. Post-interview, I like her more. Some people you know you want to know, you know?
Ally Oberrotman: Let’s dive in. When did you find your appreciate for art?
Olivia Accardo: Both my parents went to Parsons and are Art Directors and Art Producers, so I kind of came into it by default. Every time I showed my mom any interest in drawing or something she’d put me in a class, so it was just super, super encouraging.
A: That sounds like a dream. Did you grow up wanting to be an artist?
O: I grew up wanting to be a cartoon animator, actually.
A: You definitely ended up going to art school.
O: I got into Savannah College of Art and Design and went there. But it was so shitty. So after two years, I dropped out and moved to LA and didn’t tell my parents. I was 19. Literally had no money.
A: The quintessential LA story. You’re kick-ass. What did it teach you?
O: I became wildly more independent. I found out that you need to be secure enough in yourself to go through with your decisions, even if others don’t necessarily support them.
I found out that you need to be secure enough in yourself to go through with your decisions, even if others don’t necessarily support them.
A: An incredible lesson most people learn too late. What happened next?
O: I transferred to Syracuse but I ignored all the art students for the first year because SCAD had been so bad. But then I ended up studying abroad in Prague and got introduced to a bunch of art kids, which was incredible.
A: How did studying abroad shape your art?
O: It gave me more focus. We got to shoot a film in 35mm, which is when I bonded with a few other Olivia’s, all art driven. I found people who didn’t tell you your ideas were stupid and take things out of your hands but instead are like “Fuck yeah, do it!!” And that’s sometimes really what you need.
A: How’d you find Girl on Girl?
O: They started in 2012 in Syracuse, and I ended up getting involved my senior year. Everyone had already graduated.
A: So when you got done with ‘Cuse, you ended up back in LA – why not New York?
O: Well I was like “I didn’t conquer this before, so now’s my time.” I was also kinda over New York City and it didn’t feel cool and interesting anymore and I wanted to get out of my comfort zone.
A: No magic when you’re from there! Does LA influence your art?
O: When I first moved out here I was trying to get my shit together and wasn’t making any of my own work. I wanted to make films but that’s so much, so I was like maybe I’ll do art videos?
A: Where in LA are you?
O: I’m in Downtown LA. The environment definitely influences my work. Now I intentionally make my room cute.
A: What’s LA taught you so far – anything noteworthy?
O: I’ve definitely learned which people I should associate with and which ones I shouldn’t. I ended up getting a full-time job animating and everyone there is so talented. Their personal shit is blowing up and it’s incredible. I was like “Dang, that’s what I should be doing.”
A: Surrounding yourself with good people. Did you end up finding good people for First Kiss?
O: I reached out to a bunch of people that I have Instagram crushes on and I was like “I wanna put your art in a place, I like what you do…” and people were super enthusiastic about it and following up with me and it was so exciting to just put things out there and expect no answer. But then you find people who not only have this huge following that you look up to but they’re also psyched about it.
A: When you for art, especially when curating, what do you look for?
O: Cute and weird absolutely.
A: If you had to give first time curators some advice, what would it be.
O: Invite 10 artists that you know and trust, especially if you’re going to do open submissions – that way you’ll at least have some substantial pieces that you know are good. Invite people whose work you really like, invite people that have a decent following and who’ll talk about it and are excited. Shameless brag on social media. Self promote.
A: Next time what would you do differently?
O: I’d have a more organized way of deciding what goes into the show and what doesn’t, like a vote.
O: Everyone needs to have a solid understanding of what the mission is and I need to be smarter about delegating who does what. As the event got closer people became more sure of what they had to do, but next time, I want it to start that way.
A: You already killed it this time. We can’t wait to see what’s next.
O: Girl, neither can I.