ELIZABETH OLWEN, A CANADIAN DREAMWEAVER
Elizabeth resides where the Portuguese sun kisses the earth, her artistry dances in the realm of petals and patterns, a canvas for her heart's song; with each stroke, she conjures beauty, a symphony of colors that serenades the soul, weaving joy into the fabric of existence. Her muse? The world unfolds before her, an endless tapestry of inspiration. In the vibrant streets of Lisbon, she finds colors that defy gravity, whispered secrets of azure skies, and the rhythmic dance of seaweed in ocean depths. For Elizabeth, beauty is a serendipitous companion, forever intertwined with her gaze. But she is more than an artist; she is a maestro of creative liberation. With gentle guidance and a generous spirit, she unfurls the wings of creativity, inviting others to soar alongside her. Through her digital brush, she shares wisdom and wonder, leading a choir of kindred spirits in the symposium of imagination. And as the sun dips below the horizon, painting the sky with its final strokes, Elizabeth Olwen continues her journey, harmonizing with the world, and beckoning us all to follow along with her on Instagram (elizabetholwen).
1 — Could you share with us the story of what inspired your move from Toronto to Lisbon? How has the change in location influenced your work as a print & pattern designer?
"It’s always fun to reminisce about moving to Lisbon — I’ve just celebrated 6 years here and I couldn’t be happier about the move. I’d visited on vacation and was completely spellbound by the city… as a pattern designer, I felt so seen (and embraced) by the city with all of its patterns and colors. It was like finding a kindred spirit in the form of a city. My life was calling for a change, and I had a golden opportunity in my pocket: my mum is Irish so I have an EU passport. So I decided to pretend to live there for a little while, and something in my soul just said YES. So, I went back home and sold all of my belongings and took the leap… and I couldn’t be happier with the decision".
"I feel like I really grew into a new chapter of life here. My life and my creative work have expanded in tandem, and have become inextricably entwined. Walking through the colorful streets inspired me to be bolder with color. And as my relationship to color became bolder, I felt able to take more risks in my life. Which in turn inspired deeper creative work. It’s like a dance and I love its flow. It’s been such a positive change for me. I love this place more and more".
2 — Transitioning to a new country can be challenging. Could you tell us about some of the cultural or lifestyle differences you've experienced between Toronto and Lisbon and how they've influenced your daily life and work?
"Toronto is a big, bustling, ambitious city. You definitely feel an intense energy there, which can be really inspiring and exciting. Things really feel like they’re happening there. Moving to Lisbon was a change of pace, quite literally. Things simply don’t happen as quickly and efficiently here as they do in Toronto. It took a little while to adjust, but I learned to slow down and to go with the flow a lot more. It’s been a very positive impact on my life! I work less and I play more, and I enjoy and savour life in new ways. And living by the ocean and so close to nature in so many different forms is such a gift. I can’t say it enough, Portugal has my heart".
3 — Lisbon is known for its rich history and artistic community. Are there any local artists or cultural influences that have had a significant impact on your design style since moving there?
"The azulejos! When I first moved to Lisbon I was so curious about why the tiles had become so prevalent and went to a tile painting workshop where the wonderful teacher explained that after the big earthquake, it was a cost-efficient way to ‘glam up’ the city. Something about that story inspired me so much — as a designer, I love when form and function come together so harmoniously. I love that it was driven by a functional need, but became this iconic, charming and beautiful esthetic that defines the city. And yes, the color. I love walking down the street and seeing neighbours homes juxtaposed to create new and unexpected color palettes. One neighbour’s pink and blue home, paired with another neighbour’s yellow and grey. To me, it just feels so playful and delightful".
4 — Now that you have been in contact with the culture, how would you describe the Portuguese Lifestyle?
"From my perspective, I’d say the Portuguese lifestyle is relaxed, that life away from work is prioritized. There are so many more holidays and people generally get way more vacation time. We get so much amazing weather and sunshine here, and it feels like there is a sincere appreciation of that by most people — life is best lived at the beach. I love that, at this point, the beach feels like it’s for everyone, and to me, that has a great unifying effect on culture. We all belong at the beach"!
5 — Now, a little different question about our brand... hih. If you could choose one product of ours to offer to yourself, what would it be? Take a look at our website if you need.
I’ve always loved your beautiful pendant lights! The lovely fluted edges in beautiful ceramic in soft earthy colors — they’re so tasteful and I just want to eat them! But I also love your candle collab with Companhia Portugueza do Chá — that place is one of my favourite spots in Lisbon and my cupboard is full of their amazing teas! What a wonderful and perfectly Portuguese collaboration".
Thank you for inspiring us, Elizabeth!
See more of her work on her site: elizabetholwen.com
All images are courtesy of our artist Elizabeth.