Q&A with Olivia Bonilla

One of our favorite parts of working with artists is learning what exactly makes them tick. As we anticipate Olivia Bonilla’s upcoming online release (January 30 at 10am EST), we thought you’d enjoy the inside scoop, too! 

Tell us about your work and your process.

I consider myself a pop artist working primarily in sculpture. I draw inspiration from popular culture; retro toys, cinematic reference to 80s’ 90’s color pallets. Color is a large part of the language of Pop Art, communicating on an emotional level. Diving into nostalgia for my content has been both personal and socially driven. Sensitive to color ways that are being reintroduced into today's marketing and advertisements, along with revisiting my childhood of Super Soakers and Hotwheels. I have always been fascinated with consumerism. Recently I have been sourcing my imagery from recycled plastic packaging that I then use for casting. This idea stems from Duchamp’s idea of the Readymade. 

Readymade: “A term coined by Marcel Duchamp in 1916 to describe prefabricated, often mass-produced objects isolated from their intended use and elevated to the status of art by the artist choosing and designating them as such.” - Moma 

The Cowboy Candy series originated from this idea. I took plastic packaging from a dollar store cap gun (a nostalgic novelty of childhood toys) and paired it, in context, with references to popular culture.

In regards to my materials, I love working with both cement and resin. These opposing materials offer a range of applications. My work has always had a sugar-high, confectionary appeal. The appearance plays on soft and fluffy to wet and shiny, in a solid sculptural form.


If you had to pick, what is your favorite tool to use in the studio?

For years I’ve hand mixed my cement, since the pigments are mixed in each layer you can imagine the amount of buckets I go through. Well, just recently I’ve invested a whole $10 into a cement mixer attachment for my drill, it's been magic. Second to that I would say my angle grinder. My power and the strength needed to shave pieces off of sculpture is satisfying. 

Where do you find inspiration?

I get a lot of my inspiration from toy culture, classic cars and  80s/ 90s cartoon stills. It's as if they were all born in the same color world and remain timeless. There’s something to the psychology of color in the way toys are marketed. I've always been interested in toy design. Particularly the way the packaging around a toy translates to a version of the original, yet simplified to a rudimentary variation of the form. These forms remind me of primitive wooden toys made before mass production. 

I am also a sucker for the irresistible shimmer and sculptural body lines of a classic car. The color choices were always bold. And how bout that automotive shimmer on a hot summer's day?  

Who are your favorite artists? 

My favorite artists and their bodies of work would be Will Cotton’s cotton candy clouds, Jeff Koons’ sculptural work, and James Rosenquist’s large scale paintings. Also, Andy Warhol and Basquiat collaborations - to name a few.

What is your
dream project? 

I'd love to show at the Museum of Ice Cream in NYC or LA.  I’d enjoy working collaboratively on a project as a concept creator with Mattel; the infamous toy company responsible for brands such as Barbie and Hot Wheels.  

To be able to work alongside creatives in the toy industry and create an art show specific to this idea would be a great experience. I envision a show where families can congregate, sparking imagination for all walks of life.