My name’s Nadja Ocepek and I’m the creator of Little Otja. I work as a manager and art director of my creative agency Pikto, where we do design work for various clients. I’ve always loved drawing characters and coming up with stories, so I decided to start Little Otja as a project to work on in my spare time. It’s been steadily growing and now there’s a whole team of us working on it!
Explain what you do in 100 words
I’ll try, but I can’t promise anything! So, Little Otja is our brand of family-friendly home decor and lifestyle products. Everything we do revolves around our playful animal characters: Otja the rabbit and his friends from the Pine Forest. It started out with prints of my illustrations and by now the line-up has grown to include other stationery products and baby accessories, as well as home decor items like decorative cushions and ceramic mugs. We also make cute, smaller items like pocket mirrors and enamel pins. I think that our aesthetic is something that both kids and grown-ups can enjoy.
Why do you do what you do?
The thing I find most inspiring about working on Little Otja is that it involves a lot of creativity and imagination. That’s the best part. I have never really felt at home in our modern world, so I used my imagination to come up with the Pine Forest. It’s a special place; sort of like our own world, but a lot nicer in every way. It shows us how things could be if we all just tried a little harder.
Tell us about your background?
I got my education in art history. For many years, I have worked as a project manager and content creator in various cultural institutions. When it comes to design and illustration, I’m completely self-taught. It’s my passion and has now become my full-time job.
What’s your strongest memory of your childhood?**
I remember walking around the park with my dad and looking at flowers. He’s very enthusiastic about nature and knows a lot about all kinds of plants and animals. This was probably my original inspiration for Otja’s background story.
What food, drink, song inspires you?
I love cooking. I don’t like following recipes and I improvise a lot in the kitchen. The downside of this is that I can never make the exact same dish twice. This can leave my partner disappointed if he’s hoping to eat something he had really liked before. Sorry! When it comes to ingredients, my absolute favourites are homegrown fruit and veggies. My parents have a garden and I can’t wait for spring so I can get a steady supply of their fresh produce. It’s the most inspiring thing to me.
7. What superpower would you have and why?
Without a doubt: teleportation! And the ability to never have to sleep. Surely, these two things would save me a great deal of time. Oh, and the power to talk to animals would be pretty cool too.
8. Name something you love, and why.
I love my cat Kiki! It’s true love and I can’t really explain why — I just love everything about her. I’m sure that anyone who has ever had a special bond with an animal will understand what I mean.
9. Name something you don’t love, and why.
I don’t like negativity around me; I believe that anything is possible!
10. What is your dream project?
At the risk of sounding a little cheesy, I have to say that I’m already working on my dream project. I’ve been thinking about doing this for such a long time that seeing it finally happen feels like a dream come true. Nevertheless, I keep on dreaming; I have many more ideas about how Little Otja can grow.
12. How important is sustainability in your art and business?
Being friendly to nature is one of our top priorities. All Little Otja paper goods are made from 100% recycled paper and our packaging is bio-degradable or recyclable. We do our best to use natural materials whenever possible. Our brand is intended for young children and we want to pass these values onto them. That’s why we want to keep telling stories about our animal characters and the lessons they’ve learned. We have a lot of hope for the future generation.
13. Walk us through a day in your life of creating your work. What is your process like?
I wake up early in the morning, get up and have a big breakfast. I read the news and answer emails while I’m eating and getting ready. I then go to the office and get to work with my team. We make sketches, prepare things for printing, develop new ideas, come up with stories and so on and so on... There’s something different going on every day! I’m usually at work until late in the afternoon and after coming back home I unwind by doing some yoga.
View Little Otja's playful work