OLIVIA  HELLMAN


I graduated Connecticut College with a liberal arts degree in Sociology (pretty useful, right?) when I realized I needed an applicable, real-life skill. Miami Ad School turned out to be the best place for that. Entering into their Art Direction program, I was introduced to creative thinking as well as the software that helps create the visual to support creative ideas. After completing the core classes, it was time to jump ship to the next process of learning.

A few weeks later, I was introduced to Claude Shade, a self-proclaimed “Coyote” who, unbeknownst to me, ended up changing my life. We started slowly, working together to create a deck of cards then progressing to our first Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Artist Poster (a collectible poster given to the artists who perform at the annual music festival in Golden Gate Park). From then on, Claude and I were a team and I started assisting him full time at the Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in-house studio. We were the jack-of-all-trades sort of place, you bring us an image and we can create it for you. We built sets, dialed in the lighting and took it all the way through Photoshop to create beautiful pieces. As many know, the agency life is non-stop and after four-and-half years assisting, it was time for the next step.

Black Squirrel Studios was founded in March of 2015. Originally started as a portrait studio, it has now developed into a fine art studio, creating artwork that brings a sense of humor and beauty to the world. The first series I created is Taxidermy & Co., which can be seen on in the fine art section. They are surreal and painting like, with a “special sauce”created in Photoshop. Each piece comes in an edition of 27, which is Claude’s lucky number. He sadly passed away this last Thanksgiving and it is now my duty to carry on his style and teachings within the photography world. 

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