Today we want to introduce you to a rising star on the Australian art scene, Olana Janfa — the artist behind our upcoming collection!

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Having only recently picked up a paintbrush, his prolific practice has quickly gained a legion of fans  – us included! Born in Ethiopia, Olana grew up in Norway before relocating to Melbourne in 2O15. Drawing on childhood memories and elements of his Ethiopian culture, Olana’s charming, character-filled paintings pay homage to key images and figures from his young life growing up in Addis Ababa.

“I like to show the innocence and beauty of simple things in life; through nature and animals or different African characters,” Olana says. “A big theme in my paintings is mothers and children, and the sense of love and warmth they share. I think it’s something that everyone can understand, no matter where you are from.”

Last year, Kylie visited Olana in his studio to see firsthand the paintings that first piqued Kylie's interest. It's no wonder they quickly kicked off the collaboration conversation!

Early last year, Obus' creative director Kylie discovered Olana's work and was instantly taken by his vibrant and expressive paintings and his joyful approach to life.

“First and foremost, I was drawn to how joyful and colourful Olana’s paintings are,” says Kylie. “His artwork truly conveys his spirit as a person and you can feel he really loves the characters and stories he is telling through his works,” she explains. “I related to Olana’s story as a self-taught artist, too. There’s a highly intuitive nature to his art-making that mirrors my own career in the fashion world.”

Olana and Kylie in the Obus studio, working out the details for this special collection (launching February 6!)

Upon meeting Olana, Kylie soon saw the exciting potential for translating his distinctive motifs into textile prints, and found the feeling was mutual: So the seeds of the OLANA X OBUS collaboration were born! And we're thrilled to soon reveal this very special collection with you all.

Olana's hope for what people take away from his work is simple: "I want them to feel joy, and happiness. I want to take them somewhere else, to a different culture. I want them to think, wow this is not a usual Melbourne style – this is something different. I hope they will love it."

OLANA X OBUS launches Thursday 6 February, instore and online!
Subscribe to receive our OLANA X OBUS LOOKBOOK next week, and see sneak-peeks of the beautiful collab styles on Instagram all weekend!
Or see more of Olana's work on Instagram or at his website

Photo of Olana by Peter Tarasiuk

January 31, 2020