Chapter 1 / Collective Features
Tom Abbiss Smith
Words and Interview by: Courtney Chew
Images provided by: Tom Abbiss Smith
We want to inspire everyone to feel their most open, free and positively impactful self. And so we surround ourselves with things we find beautiful, creative, and expressive. We aim to work with a new artist every collection, to set the tone and mood for the next Chapter of our story together.
For Chapter I, we collaborated with UK contemporary designer, Tom Abbiss Smith. We first discovered Smith’s work just over a year ago. And now he has grown to have an influence on his community of over 21k followers, has worked with multiple art collectives and brands to create unique pieces to his own, and has recently launched his own Homeware and clothing brand - Paper Plant Studio.
We are humbled and honored to have the chance to work with such an amazing talent. His work can be found on our OCIN Versatex™ - a Japanese inspired Furoshiki - that comes with every e-commerce order, as well as on a collectible postcard piece and a beautiful enamel pin.
OCIN: Let us get to know you a bit. What are five facts about yourself including where you’re based, what let you to become the artist that you are, and what inspires your work?
TAS: I am based in Norwich, United Kingdom! I got interested in art when I went to college after studying completely the wrong subjects at 6th form and dropping out. I was lucky enough to actually discover that I loved art there! I only started to explore abstract design in the last three years as I really wanted to explore as many avenues at University first. It was Polish poster design that inspired everything I do now. There's now countless artist that inspire me every day! The number one inspiration is nature, however - I never get bored of it, it's so refreshing and timeless.
OCIN: Your style is very unique and signature to you - how did you evolve into this form and aesthetic?
TAS: I just kept exploring lots of different techniques until I was happy with my outcomes. I still always like to try new stuff, but there are definitely certain things that I incorporate frequently into my work, such as certain textures or shapes. I recall seeing scrap paper and things like that at Uni and thinking they made really interesting shapes, usually by accident - I think this made me want to explore it as a technique.
OCIN: I remember we had a conversation when we were first discussing our collaboration, about how hard it is to sometimes open yourself up and get inspired to create. What has helped you overcome these creative road blocks and obstacles to keep
doing what you were made to do?
TAS: To actually not force myself to make art if I'm not feeling it. You need to have a balance of research/chilling/making to allow the best stuff to happen.
OCIN: Tell us a bit about the piece that we collaborated on. The process, the inspiration, the final piece, what it represents for you as the artist.
TAS: To me it was all about freedom and being carefree! All my work, (including this design) is done intuitively, so I just roll with it, usually just taking shapes that catch my eye that day!
OCIN: What do you hope that your fans take away from looking at your work.
TAS: I want people to have the opportunity to see what they desire to see in my work. Life has so many rules and regulations that can really drain you - I want to break that through ambiguity.
OCIN: What impact do you want to create on your community?
TAS: A positive one that encourages others to be creative in their thinking and doing.
OCIN: What does being your most open, free and positively impactful self mean to you? And how do you feel that this feeling can help change or shift or shape our collective future?
TAS: Being kind and compassionate to others. There's too much judgement and misunderstanding in the world! If this was different, so many social issues would go!
"Life has so many rules and regulations that can really drain you - I want to break that through ambiguity."
OCIN: Now some rapid-fire: What's a song or artist that gets you feeling like this? We'll add it to our playlist.
TAS: Nujabes - Letter From Yokosuka
OCIN: What's a place (in or outside the UK) that takes you to feeling most at peace and free.
TAS: I don't have a specific place, but sunny woodlands with ponds/water!
OCIN: What's your favourite thing to do at home or in your city that takes you to feeling like your most open, free and positively impactful self.
TAS: Listening to records!
OCIN: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned on your journey as an artist so far?
TAS: Don't give up when you feel like you can't to it anymore.