If you don’t hail from one of the big cities, it can be challenging for an artist to graduate from hometown hero status and be widely recognized in the broader world.
Somewhere like Portland, Oregon, for example, can be difficult to decipher creatively when you’re not a resident. While visiting a few years back, I felt curious about what spawned in PDX, so I texted a friend and asked for suggestions about local artists.
She was silent for a minute or two and then replied, “Check out Olivia Bee.
At the time, Bee had already graduated from hometown hero, but not from the local high school. Through early internet exposure, Bee had amassed a huge following, earning a campaign shoot for Converse at age 16 and publishing work on the cover of the New York Times the following year.
She exhibited in multiple European cities and even spoke at a TEDx conference in Amsterdam, all before turning 18. No need for a career counselor!
Her insanely successful trajectory working with both editorial and commercial clients on countless campaigns for some of the most recognizable name brands runs parallel to a veteran photographer.
Her work is distinctly personal. Saturated in cinematic color, it captures the nostalgia of romance, intimacy and the emotion of burgeoning adulthood.
Now 22 and living in Brooklyn, Bee recently published her first monograph through Aperture.