Interview With OKE Art Founders: Amery and Imogen

What inspires you?

A&I: We both take inspiration from our surrounding environments, a combination of built and natural. However, in terms of our creative process, it’s quite spontaneous, where we take inspiration from each other as we collaborate on each piece. Each one of us takes turns plotting out a shape, which then in turn informs what we’ll do next. The end result is always a surprise!

How would others describe you?

A&I: As a couple, we’ve been told we come across a bit aloof (haha) but really, we are just quiet and shy introverts (with avoidant attachment styles, which is pretty comical). 

What do you do in your free time?

A&I: We love getting away and going on little adventures. During our holiday breaks, we’ll often be found camping with friends, road tripping and hanging out with our dogo, Tote.

What do you believe is your superpower?

A: Following your gut. I’ve always followed my intuition, listening to my heart rather than overthinking things or getting distracted by outside noise. I have the ability to instinctively feel what’s needed; it’s led me to great opportunities, kept me out of danger and has built both resilience and confidence within myself.

I: Unnatural good luck. I am lucky to have had the good fortune of many narrow escapes, from people breaking into a hotel room I was staying in, running out of petrol on a desert highway in the Northern Territory and fleeing a truck that caught fire are a few examples. 

What has been the most powerful piece of criticism you've received and how has it affected your career?

A&I: For both of us, we’ve experienced criticism that has implied constraints on what we are capable of and what we are able to achieve. For Amery, they were once told they could never be a designer (or an artist) and for Imogen she’s been critiqued in ways that made her question her skills. We’re both very aligned on the idea that you should never let another person’s critique of your capabilities limit what you are capable of, and if you feel passionate enough about something, always give it a go. It is better to have tried and failed rather than not having tried at all. 

Do you ever experience burnout and how do you handle it?

A&I: Of course! We’re only human!

A: Indeed, indeed. I find totally detaching from concept-centric creativity can be remarkably invigorating. I love dancing, cooking and OKE has been a wonderful way to enjoy creativity without the pressure.

I: As an art and design educator, which like any occupation can result in burn out from time to time, I find the process of producing our own work can help reinvigorate my teaching and counterbalance the experiences of burnout.

What motivated you to start your company? 

A&I: It was an opportunity for us to collaborate and work on little projects together. Our background and passion in both design and interiors led us to create prints for our own home. Weaving our joint preferences and understandings of color and composition, we began proudly producing Australian-designed artworks. We believe art and design can not only bring life to the spaces we inhabit but in part, play a role in reflecting our own wonderful idiosyncrasies.

What excites you most about being in Showfields Williamsburg?

A&I: What excites us most about being a part of Showfields Williamsburg is participating in an innovative approach to retail that fosters discovery, and to also have our work sit alongside some really interesting and contemporary brands is both exciting and rewarding.