Currently based in Grand Rapids, Octavia grew up in Chicago and studied Fine Arts at DePaul University, earning a BFA majoring in Graphic Design with a minor in Interactive and Social Media. From her Afro to her artwork, she’s influenced by her African roots, and loves old school Dizzy Gillespie and Muddy Waters posters. She’s also inspired by Art Nouveau and Pop Art, and political ideas.
Octavia thrives in Procreate and Adobe Illustrator, but often grounds her work with physical-world elements. She is an expert print maker, carving blocks, inking and printing images before taking them into Photoshop to clean up the artwork. Her digital art is usually colour, while her prints are black and white.
While her work is always bold and impactful, Octavia pushes her style in three directions. First, she likes to use long, continuous lines that vary in weight, with the ink bleeding into the page. Second, she offsets things with imperfect colour fills, bringing life to the moment. Third, she applies pencil effects, with quick, short strokes giving depth to the image.
Question: What led you to become an illustrator? Juno: I’ve always had a soft spot for illustration. I graduated college with a degree in graphic design but wanted more expressive creativity. I started to practice illustration on and off until I landed my first big illustration job and realized this is something I love to do. I also didn’t see many illustrations representing women who looked like me and I set out to bring more diversity to the industry.Question: Did you study illustration in college? Juno: I studied Graphic Design at DePaul University. The major does require studio art classes so I was familiar with the basics when I started illustrating more. Question: Where did you grow up? Juno: I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and the city when I was younger. Question: Do you have a childhood memory relating to drawing/art that you hold dear? Juno: When I was younger I wanted to be a fashion designer and I remember always falling asleep with a sketchbook and pencil. Question: Where do you live now and what drew you there? Juno: I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I was chasing love and I found it! Question: Describe your studio for us Juno: Currently my studio consists of our large loft space living room. Question: Do you have a studio pet? Juno: Do my two cats count? They love to help in the studio or get in the way! Which is when I take the cue to wrap up for the day and cuddle with them.Question: Describe the view from your window Juno: Our view consists of most shrubbery from the front part of the property. We rent! But hopefully soon our view with me a nice sized field in the countryside! Question: Who or What is your biggest inspiration? Juno: My biggest inspiration would have to be Black women like myself. They’re so strong and yet so soft. We shine bright and exude creativity and beauty. Question: How do you get your ideas? Juno: I have tons of art books, along with poetry books. Sometimes an illustration or printmaking idea will come from a small poet I’ve read or an emotion. I also use Pinterest with ideas or stock photo websites! Question: Do you collect anything? Juno: I collect washi tape! I love it! It can be used on paper and even the walls. I love the different designs and practicality of it. Question: What are your interests outside of illustration? Juno: Printmaking! Though I use illustration to prep different block print designs so I guess illustration is woven into all of my art somehow. Question: Juno: What is the first record you bought? Question: A Seat at the Table by Solange Knowles Juno: What was your favourite assignment ever? Question: My current favorite assignment would have to be illustrating an entire book for Macmillan. It’s a book about 30 women in STEM who changed the world; Science Superstars! Juno: What would be your dream commission? Question: My dream commission would be to create a stationery collection centered around strong Black women! Juno: What is the best use of illustration you have ever seen? Question: Infographics about social justice! Its easy ways of sharing complex information. Juno: What makes a good client brief? Question: Everyone being on the same page and open to taking a risk! Juno: How much of your work is hand drawn? Question: I digitally hand draw everything. I use my sketchbook when I’m tired of my iPad and staring at screens and when I’m on the go and an idea hits me! Juno: How do you envisage illustration evolving? Question: I would like to let the illustration guide me. If an idea isn’t working I move on instead of dwelling on how to fix it. I want to keep momentum going when I’m feeling creative. Sometimes I will have an idea that just isn’t working that I save for a later day that ends up inspiring a different illustration or print. Juno: Who is your art hero? Question: Keith Haring! He’s my favorite artist. His art was colorful and vibrant and filled with movement and emphasis even when he fought for social justice and the community. It was concise and head-on! Juno: Who is your design hero? Question: Paula Scher ! Her work is so inspiring and her process! Juno: Who is your music hero? Question: Beyoncé! I love her ability to sing with her heart, her creativity of pushing the boundaries and her constant evolving art being able to within over 20 years and counting! She’s always perfecting her craft and growing. Juno: If you were not an illustrator, what would you be? Question: My other love; A printmaker! A ballet dancer! Juno: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? Question: Don’t be afraid to throw the first punch Juno: If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? Question: The pyramids! Or the Nile Juno: Have you any hidden talents? Question: I can chop an onion without crying! Juno: How would someone who knows you well describe you? Question: Eclectic, Bubbly, Vibrant and Passionate Juno: If you could live anywhere, where would it be? Question: Germany or The Netherlands! Juno: If you could travel back in time, who would be the one person you would want to meet and why? Question: Hatshepsut to discuss culture and strength. Juno: What themes or content in the world inspires you? Question: Growth! Rest! Juno: How do you keep on trend and up to date in our quickly changing industry? Question: I stay true to the things that matter to me. I follow my gut and trust my process. Juno: What is your go-to comfort food? Question: Gluten free donuts, glazed Juno: What is the last show you binged? Question: Bridgerton! Juno: What was the last exhibition you saw and loved? Question: Art in Bloom at the GRAM in Grand Rapids! Juno: What was the last concert you went to? Question: Ari Lennox, she has such an amazing voice. Juno: What is your favourite book? Question: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs! And Mind of Mine. Juno: What do you do when you have creative block? Question: Rest and play Animal Crossings New Horizon! Juno: What is your go-to karaoke song? Question: Ain’t Nobody by Chaka Khan Juno: What is your favourite quote? Question: And still I rise. - Maya Angelou Juno: What is your favourite ice cream flavour? Question: Caramel and Sea Salt coconut milk ice cream! Juno: Is there any random thing you consider yourself an expert on? Question: Knowing random information! And identifying typefaces while drivin Juno: