Holly has been an artist since she could first hold a pencil. She would hold art gallery openings featuring her work in her tiny bedroom and charge her parents and brother an admission price of $0.25 to attend.
Today she is an illustrator and graphic designer who illustrates in a whimsical and quirky style. She loves to combine line drawings, photography and texture to create endearing illustrations that burst to life with personality and emotion.
Holly has a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design and Fine Arts. She has an extensive knowledge of working in a variety of different computer programs as well as working with art directors, designers and other creative gurus.
Holly is also the owner and designer of TearDrop Paperie, where she designs and sells cheeky paper products for weddings and baby.
Holly’s other passions include spending time hugging trees, filling up her pantry with tea and sticking her nose in a book.
Here’s Holly explaining her process:
I do all of my work digitally, even the sketching. I begin by sketching out ideas/the spread in illustrator.
I fill in with color, pattern, and textures in Illustrator.
I then bring everything into Photoshop where I finish it off with painterly elements.
I do all of my shading and scribble work in Photoshop as well.
How long have you been illustrating?
I graduated with a BA in graphic design and worked for a few design companies out of school. Then in 2004 I was unfulfilled with designing and started my own wedding invitation business. With the birth of my son in 2013, I realized I have never been truly happy with my job and finally realized that illustration is my passion. I have been illustrating full time for 3 years.
What was the first thing you painted where someone paid you for your work?
Oh my, that is a hard question, I’ve been doing art for so long it’s hard to remember. I think my first commission piece was drawing celebrities for a magazine editorial.
Did you go to school for art? If so where and why did you pick that school?
I’ve always known that art is my passion since I was a tiny girl. But once graduating high school, I was a little unsure of what “type” of art I wanted to do. We have a very well respected well known art school here in Ontario called Sheridan College. They offered a one year program that explored all areas of art. After finishing the program, my professor suggested I take graphic design since it was a strong area for me. I then moved onto to Fanshawe College to study graphic design for 3 years.
Do you feel College helped develop your style?
No. But studying graphic design did teach me how to fully use the computer and all the design programs. I feel like it has made me a better illustrator because I do have a design background. I understand typography and layouts and I am able to design all of my marketing needs and websites.
What type of work did you do after you got out of school?
My first job out of school was for a big design agency. Second job was as an in-house designer for a travel agency.
Did art school help you get work when you graduated?
Yes, it helped me with my graphic design jobs.
Have you seen your work change since you left school?
I have completely changed fields as I strictly do illustration.
When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?
I knew since I was a child myself 🙂
What was your first book you illustrated?
The first book I illustrated was called My Foot Fell Asleep. It is a collection of poetry for kids.
How did you start TearDrop Paperie?
I actually kinda just fell into it. My friend asked me to design her wedding invitations and it got such great feedback that I decided to make it my full time job.
What type of illustrating does your company do?
Well, I don’t own TearDrop anymore. I shut down the company to fully focus on illustrating.
What inspired you to publish The Little Star as an ebook? What is the book about?
I have been writing and illustrating stories since I was a little kid. I have journals and journals full of ideas. The Little Star actually grew from random doodles in my sketchbook. The story is about a star that fell from the sky and needs to find his way back home (the sky). A little boy finds him and together they devise a plan to try to get him back home.
Do you have any desire to write and illustrate your own book?
I have written and illustrated three actually. I sell two of them on Amazon and I just recently finished writing my latest one. I have finished three spreads for the book and it is currently being shopped around to publishers.
What do you think is your biggest success?
My biggest success was being signed for a two book deal with Harper Collins.
Have you ever tried to do a wordless picture book?
I actually sell a wordless book on Amazon called Pay it Forward.
I see you are represented by Chris Tugeau. How did the two of you connect and when was that?
I used to be represented by another agency when Christy from Chris Tugeau connected with me. I had been very unhappy with my past agency and Christy just happened to email me at the right time. I gave my past agency notice that I was leaving as an artist with them so I could sign with Chris Tugeau. I believe that was back in December 2014.
Do you illustrate full time?
Do you have a favorite medium you use?
All of my illustrations are done digitally. And weirdly enough I used to hate the computer before I studied graphic design. I used to do all of my drawings in ink and watercolour.
Do you take research pictures before you start a project?
YES! I don’t start any project without researching first. It gets the creative juices flowing.
Have you worked with any educational publishers? If yes, is there any difference working with them?
I have worked with two educational publishers. They are different in that the books aren’t usually as long and they are very specific about the layouts of their illustrations. Also, their timelines to deliver artwork seemed shorter. But they are so super organized, which I absolutely loved. Also, the compensation isn’t as much as a regular publisher.
Do you use Photoshop with any of your work?
All of my drawings start in illustrator and are finished off in photoshop.
Do you have and use a graphic tablet?
Yes! I couldn’t do what I do without it. I call it my best friend!
Has any of your work appeared in magazines?
Yes. I have worked with Baby Bug and Chickadee.
Do you studio a studio in your house?
Yes. I have a room in my house solely dedicated to my studio.
Is there anything in your studio you couldn’t live without?
My Wacom tablet!
Do you follow any type of routine to attain your career goals?
I have always been the type of person that thrives on routine. I am very strict with my work schedule. I’m at my desk every morning at 7:45am. That is when my son leaves for school. I basically don’t leave my desk until 3:30pm when I have to pick up my son from school. I also make sure to contact creative directors every 2-3 months with new work and I make sure to post everyday to Instagram.
Any exciting projects on the horizon?
I am working on a couple of very exciting projects. I have a book series I’m working on with Penguin books due to come out September 2017. And I’m illustrating a book written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.
Do you think the Internet has opened any doors for you?
Of course! I don’t feel like us illustrators/artists could do without the internet anymore! It’s amazing how quickly you can connect with influential people with a click of a button.
What are your career goals?
My goal has always been to inspire kids. I want to fill the bookstore with books I have written and illustrated. I would love to one day work with Disney and I have been trying to break into the animation world.
What are you working on now?
I am working on two books with Penguin, a book with Harper Collins and a book I have written myself.
Are there any painting tips (materials, paper, etc.) you can share that work well for you? Technique tips?
Well, seeing as that I do all of my work digitally, I would recommend everyone make use of a Wacom tablet. I honestly couldn’t do what I do without it. It allows me to draw like I am drawing traditionally. Also, make sure you invest in some great photoshop brushes. They make all the difference in my work.
Any words of wisdom you can share with the illustrators who are trying to develop their career?
Don’t every compare yourself to any other illustrator. What will make you succeed is your own personal style and the way you look at the world. The most important thing is take the time to develop your style. It took me years to finally fine tune my style and get it to where I want it. You will get hired for your own unique take on subject matters. You don’t need to totally be out there or be different and crazy unique in everything you do. I would practice by taking a well known fairytale or story and doing some illustrations in your own style. Tell your own story. There really is no new or unique story out there anymore. Almost everything has been done. But it hasn’t been done in your own unique voice.
Thank you Holly for sharing your talent, process, journey, and expertise with us. Please make sure you keep in touch and share your future successes with us. To see more of Holly’s work, you can visit her at website at: http://www.hollyhatam.com/
If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Holly. I am sure she’d love it and I enjoy reading them, too. Thanks!