Meet The Maker: Ropa Lobita aka Olivia Spooner

Welcome to the second Meet the Maker. This time we’re getting to know the genius behind Ropa Lobita. Hand drawn and screen printed locally on fairtrade and organic t-shirts. We find out the beginnings and the inspiration behind some of the designs. Everyone say a warm hello to Olivia!

I first met Olivia when I was a barista in Brew. Most mornings she’d pop in for her regular (large black americano with a little sugar) and we’d indulge each other in some polite conversation. Never did I know that one day I’d be asking her to design some t-shirts for me.

When it came to designing the t-shirts I really wanted to collaborate with a local artist. Intrigued by what I saw on her Instagram, I felt she would be great to work with. What really drew me into Olivia was her funny and witty designs and I loved the rawness of the hand drawn imagery. 

Let’s get to know how Ropa Lobita started and what makes Olivia tick.

Olivia has an artistic background but studied English Lit at University, and you can really see that influence in her work. In her Art A levels she worked with many mediums, including photography, expressionist painting and dabbled in a bit of illustration. Unfortunately, like many of us, she never felt she was up to a standard of other artist she was around and decided not to further her studies but instead followed her passion for reading. She doesn’t regret this decision and feels that there have been direct chain of reactions from the people she met and experiences she gain in those three years.

After graduating Olivia moved to Brighton then to London where she had various jobs working in pubs, restaurants, photography galleries, bookshops and even worked as a freelance photographer assistant. (How cool is that?!) As well as all that, Olivia did street photography and had some of her work present in a few exhibitions (as an artist this is an incredible achievement).

At 26, Olivia grew restless and out of the blue (even for herself), quit her job, ended her relationship and told family she was off to South America. Olivia spent two years working in Peru and Argentina, learning Spanish and travelling as much as she could. Whilst in Peru she met Oscar, who was teaching himself to be a tattoo artist. Being surrounded by the beautiful scenery and Oscar’s drive to self teach and his vocation. Understandably this got Olivia drawing again.

How it began

From the start the whole process has been organic, naturally evolving to where she is today. Ropa Lobita was heavily influenced by her time in South America. It still took a couple of years before she really got the confidence to start printing.

Once settled in Bristol she thought that she would get some of her designs printed onto t-shirts. Olivia chose to start with her Bukowski drawing as she like the meta-on-meta concept behind the design. Over the coming months she received more and more positive feedback from friends, even strangers.

During a trip to San Francisco Olivia had a guy come up to her asking where he could buy her ‘Te Recontra Amo’ t-shirt. His enthusiasm gave her the confidence to really go for it.

It all really fell into place for her when she met Ross Lovelock at a local pub in Bristol. Ross runs his own independant and local screen printing business. He’s also a designer himself. Ross specialises is doing small batch work and only focus’ on one project at a time. This really shows in the quality of his work. (If you fancy working with Ross, get in touch by sending an email over to bathtubprinting@gmail.com). 

There’s still a lot going on for Olivia as she does this alongside her day job. She’s still finding her feet with the business. She only figured out the best way to post and package her garments when she received the first order. And would only get small batches printed at a time. Like most artists, self doubt is a huge obstacle she has to constantly conquer. But she reminds herself that she’s doing something that she enjoys, creating something unique and producing garments that are environmentally friendly.

Her next release is going to be the Existential Crisis tee. This design came from a process of Art therapy. When feeling anxious Olivia likes to de-stress by reminding herself of how insignificant our Solar System is in the Universe and how, fundamentally, our existence is. (Honestly when you start thinking about it, the Universe is insane.) And also has a couple of other ideas she’s working on.

To check out what we’ve created together by heading to our collection here. You should really follow her Instagram or just head straight to her website!