Art Talk with Josh Holland
Born in Minnesota, artist and illustrator Josh Holland moved around the country a bit before settling in 2006 in the sunny state of Colorado, where he says his destiny is to “become an old man living way out in the mountains.”
Weight: 145 lb.
Sneaker size: 10.5
Favorite Garbage Pail Kid: One-Eyed Jack
Best comic book character(s) ever? X-Men
Leather belt? Yes
White or black socks: black
Fitted hat, snap-back, beanie or no hat? Fitted
Ghettoblaster or headphones: Headphones
Favorite president: Vince McMahon
Three favorite colors: Black, grey, purple
Horse or camel: Horse
Beard or mustache: Beard
Gym membership: No
Type of music? Early 90’s hip hop
Online work: josholland.com
R: Your animated imagination is impressive. Do you dress half as colorful as your work?
JH: Quite the opposite. I wear almost all neutrals and black, with all black tattoos. But I like super colorful sneakers and accents.
R: Your world of creation seems to be deeply rooted in your pencil and your sketchbook. Are these two of your best friends, as well as your enemies?
JH: I’ve never thought of them as friends or enemies before. Every artist I know has those days where nothing is going right in the sketchbook. But it’s just a matter of time before you get to the right solution. All of the failures are all crucial to arriving at the successful result. So they aren’t ever failures really, just part of the process.
R: What season of the year do you enjoy most?
JH: Fall. Hoodie weather is perfect for me.
R: Would you prefer painting a Volkswagen Beetle over a Ferrari, and why?
JH: Ferraris are way cooler looking, but I feel like I couldn’t improve upon that kind of human engineering with paint. Beetles are like the Munnies of cars. I’d go with the more playful blank.
R: How has art influenced your lifestyle? Do you walk down the street getting creative inspiration through your surroundings?
JH: When you make art your livelihood, I think inspiration becomes harder to come by. It’s lightning in a bottle, and it usually strikes when you least expect it. But anything can trigger it.
R: Have you ever chosen to create an image of yourself? Your alter ego?
JH: I don’t do many self-portraits, but my online avatar is a crude drawing of myself as an eye-patch wearing villain laughing maniacally. I like it because you can get away with more as a self-avowed bad guy. Even though it’s the opposite of who I am, I’ve always liked bad guys.
R: What is your most interesting project and why?
JH: That would be hard to single out. My favorite thing about being an illustrator is the wide variety of work I receive. I’ve worked on children’s programming, video games, music videos, toy concepts, apparel lines, package designs, concert posters and gallery work, to name a few applications.
R: How has your process of creation changed over the years?
JH: My process is remarkably the same as when I was a kid. I was modeling my drawings after the comic books and animation that I revered, and this pencil/ink/digital color process has been a constant.
R: Can you describe the process behind your work, the steps to a final product?
JH: I start out with a thumbnail stage, super small sketches, draw those out a few times until I have a finished drawing, which gets scanned into the computer and colored digitally. The finishing steps are added textures I create myself in Photoshop, but sometimes I just draw directly into the computer with the Wacom tablet.
R: What can you tell us about that little gem known as the Paper Diamond project?
JH: It’s ongoing. Working with Alex has been a lot of fun. Doing album covers and animated elements for music videos is about as good as it gets as an illustrator. Seeing my work on MTV was awesome, too. Lucky for me, his music and fan base make for really great subject matter. It’s always a party.
R: Would you be interested in creating your own cartoon animation series if a network approached you about your work?
JH: I have always wanted to create a property, and I’ve worked on a few over the years. Nothing that has stuck yet, but I will have a small project making its way to a certain network that shows cartoons soon. I can’t talk about it yet, though!
R: Are you living 100 percent self-sufficient off of your art?
JH: Yes, just about to hit my two-year mark of being independent. Before that I was working at T-shirt companies, a branding company and a DVD company, as well as some others.
R: If could you re-create any movie with your imagination through your illustration, what would it be? How might you evolve it?
JH: I would like to see an animated version of Harry Potter. There are so many amazing characters I’d love to draw. That whole series would be amazing.
R: Your wife is also an artist. Where did you meet each other? What’s it like to share the dynamics of everyday life with another incredible artist?
JH: We met in an illustrative drawing class in art school and I gave her a ride to the zoo. It’s funny how incredibly ordinary it becomes to walk upstairs and see some incredible thing that Shannon is working on. But it’s inspiring. She makes me feel lazy! We’re always making each other better, critiquing and pushing each other to work harder and smarter.
R: Your recent show had a great vibe. Can you tell us about the theme? Did you have any piece that was one of your favorites?
JH: The unofficial theme of the show was symbiosis. I was trying to show the range of how organisms coexist, or can’t coexist. I’m really inspired by nature and character design, so the focus was on showing these relationships through the lens of animal behavior. I think my favorite piece was “Race Against Time.” It has a really personal childhood feel for me, and is really close to something I’m constantly trying to achieve with my art.
R: Where does your inspiration come from, and how do explore that? Jim Henson? How have they inspired you?
JH: I’m inspired by a lot of things, but lately I love listening to podcasts and hearing really disparate opinions and interesting conversations. I think forcing yourself to challenge your own beliefs and ideas is the most important thing an artist can do. Yeah, Jim Henson was my first hero in art, I used to fill spiral-bound notebooks with crayon drawings of Sesame Street characters from memory. It’s funny how it wasn’t far off from what I’d be doing later in life. I kept the noodle arm thing, and still draw a lot of inspiration from those amazing character designs.