Lyz Olko, Everything is Going to Be Fine
So, being from New Jersey, did you come to the city growing up?
Growing up, I made friends with a bunch of guys who were older than me and my best friend, who taught us how to skate. We would travel to new skate spots all over the tri-state area, including the LES, and before I could drive, we took the bus.
What was your first memory of the LES?
I have a lot of great memories, but I think the thing that really was the most important was the sense of freedom my friends and I experienced once arriving in Manhattan. It was so different from what we knew back in our small town. No parents. No need for a car. Everything was within our reach, whether it was legal or not. It felt exciting and dangerous.
Your archive is amazing. What was your first magazine subscription?
I couldn’t afford most of the magazines I loved as a kid— I read them at the public library.
You kind of made yourself here, it seems, from scratch. Which is insanely impressive.
Hahaha, thank you.
But you made the full move for art school— would you say SVA was the true start of it all?
Yeah, moving to the city, I was both excited and scared shitless. I had a garbage bag of clothes and a blanket, and that was it. I had always been interested in art and photography—in high school, my best friend and I started learning to print our own photos.
I was truly blessed with my experience at SVA. The academics are really strong and my teachers were all well-known, practicing artists… the group of friends I made was really talented. Being there also taught me that I didn’t have to be one thing—I could do photography and printmaking and other things, too, including fashion.
How do you work and live in one space— without feeling like you "shit where you eat"— do you think it helps that you have a pretty multifaceted practice?
I always beef with whomever I am dating over my life and work situation because my “work” is everywhere. I couldn’t live any other way, I guess. I love the freedom to make something at any time of day. I keep weird hours and sleep very little, so I love to be able to watch a movie and sew a dress or look through photos for references… Everyone has their own way of working, and my living space is mine.
You have done a ton of different things, obviously, and often all at the same time. But ultimately, how do you think you would define your ‘job’?
Friends are obviously a huge part of your life. How do you hold onto that, when the city moves so fast, going ‘out’ often stands for socializing— not the most authentic face time. And do you have issues trusting people in relationships if you work with them?
A lot of times, you make friends at work because you all spend so much time together— especially in a creative industry. It can get tricky with tough decisions, and money makes things complicated. But that’s how you learn. I have had both good and bad experiences working with close friends, and I’ve learned from my mistakes, but I’ve also had some incredible experiences professionally because I was working with my friends.
It feels like so many "make it", and end up drained, resentful of their medium from money and the drama of the social scene. Do you feel this at all?
So far I still love all that I do, so I’ll cross that bridge if I ever come to it. (I’m not big on having resentments though, so maybe I wont.)
What are your feelings on finance (a topic in your zine)... How do you think it segregates the NY scene, and how have you dealt with this?
I think having money can provide opportunity more easily and quickly, but other than that, people can create their own opportunities. Often, that’s how they know they’re ready for success.
Does work make you feel ‘safe’? I am definitely a workaholic, would you say you fall into that category— how have you been able to add self care into a super multiplatform, busy career?
Work does make me feel safe. Self care is harder for me, but I am learning to make time for it. It’s hard for me to relax.
What are you being for halloween?
My FAVORITE HOLIDAY. I love horror movies and the whole month of October! I am not sure yet, I’ve been watching a lot of scary movies for inspiration.