A name to know, Western Australian-born Bobbi Lockyer is a young creative whose unique style is turning heads.
Lockyer is a proud Ngarluma, Kariyarra, Nyulnyul and Yawuru woman born and based on Kariyarra Country in Port Hedland.
Working across Aboriginal art, fine art paintings, photography, illustration and graphic design, Lockyer also facilitates art and photography workshops to pass her skills on to others.
She has photographed for brands including WA Ballet, Spinifex Hill Studio, BHP and the Aurora Foundation.
Inspired by the Country that surrounds her in Port Hedland, Lockyer originally found her creativity encouraged by her mother.
“I was always creative. My mum always supported it, ever since I was little,” she said. “She taught me painting, sewing. She nurtured that in me. I wanted to be creative, and she encouraged that.”
Lockyer’s journey with photography came a little later, after one day picking up an old disposable film camera.
“I was obsessed with those disposable film cameras, the little ones,” she laughed.
“I had lots of them, and I used to just take photos. Back then I didn’t know that photography was even a career or anything, I was just having fun.”
Lockyer realised her desire to pursue the arts during her sister’s first pregnancy, when she tasked herself with taking photos.
In 2008, Lockyer emerged as a self-taught photography talent building the now well-known and loved Bobbi Lockyer brand.
“The first moment I realised things were really kicking off was (with) my son, he would have been about nine months old,” she said.
“I was taking so many photos of him as he was my first baby. I had a lot of friends commenting on my photos on Facebook saying the photos were amazing and I should be doing photography and charging for it. I then started to realise that maybe I could turn this into a business — things have just grown since then.”
As a young Aboriginal woman, Lockyer finds art is a way to express her culture.
“I am in awe of the beauty of it all, I love learning and hearing stories,” she said.
“I want to pass those stories on in my own way and document (culture) in my own way.”
In honour of NAIDOC Week, Lockyer created an original Heal Country design — a process that asked her to reflect on her own connection to Country.
“I love the theme, coming up with that design was all about connecting back to our Country,” she said.
“Our Country is more than just the land that we stand on … it’s part of us, it is part of our being.”
In building her brand, Lockyer wanted to stay connected to her authenticity, not only as an artist but also as a young Aboriginal woman.
“In the early years it was all about trying to be a professional brand,” she said.
“All the things I read about marketing, it told me not to open yourself up, don’t make it about you. Be professional. Somewhere along the way, I realised that my brand is me. So, I just started opening up, sharing more of myself and I think that has had a huge impact.”
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Although she is gaining more and more attention, Lockyer ensures her business remains her own and reflects her values.
“For me, I get to be picky on who I work with. I want (them) to align with me because I’m not going to work on something that doesn’t fit my beliefs,” she said.
Lockyer said there have been “a lot of business learnings along the way” but none as important as “staying true to yourself, and not giving in to pressure”.
“People always say that it’s for ‘exposure’, I hate that,” she said.
“Find what you want to do, how you want to work, and stick to it.”
With almost 14 years operating a thriving brand, Lockyer has expanded into new avenues of creativity. In May, she collaborated with activewear brand Active Truth.
She created the hand-painted design the brand featured as its limited-edition Brolga line.
In October, Lockyer’s work will hit the runways at Paris Fashion Week.
“I have a collaboration with Deadly Denim, and we have our designs going to Paris Fashion Week,” she said.
“We’re super excited about that. We also have another collection going to the Darwin Country to Couture Fashion event (at Darwin Festival).”
Behind the scenes Lockyer is making the move to begin her own fashion label. Her movement into the industry expands on a long-time dream.
“As a kid I always loved drawing, models and fashion — all that sort of stuff. Never, ever, ever did I think that it would come back to this, that it would be this full circle with photography, art and now fashion,” she said.
“I try to be a role model. I want to be a role model, especially Indigenous kids — particularly creative kids. In school we’re always told to choose a ‘real career’.
“I want to show them that it is something that you can do, it is a real career. They can do this.”
By Rachael Knowles