This interview is the 19th I've published here over the past 15 months. I've found people to interview through a range of different online means - Etsy, social media, even Google image search. During that time I have had a couple of emails from people recommending artists to interview, or promoting themselves, but as the interviews are part of my personal blog I've preferred to focus on work I discovered myself, and always creators of work I genuinely love and would like to own.
Hollie Martin is 26 years old, lives in Sydney, Australia, and is the first exception to my self-imposed rule. I got a well-written email introduction from her last month, with attached examples of her gorgeous work. As well as appreciating the delicate patterns Hollie creates on paper and our shared love of watercolour, I've found her art blog is entertaining, frequently updated, and features work by artists she is inspired by in addition to her own pieces.
How long have you been creating artwork for?
I wouldn’t say I grew up in a creative environment - my dad used to do what I thought were awesome drawings though, and has a real good mind for technical drawing and building things. I am an only child though and I put my interest in making things and my need to be busying myself down to that. I guess I was always looking for something to occupy myself as a kid and being creative was always encouraged and was fun. I’ve been creating art with more serious intent for about 6 or 7 years now and I’m loving every moment of it.
How many hours in an average week do you spend on your artwork?
It isn't a full time role for me yet but I really hope that one day it will be. I can assure you that I think about it all of the time, though! I can't think of anything better than drawing pretty pictures and making pretty things every day of the week. At the moment I work three days a week doing my art and then the other two days are spent at my part time job.
What other work or hobbies are you involved with?
I work as a dental nurse so when I'm not creating or spending time with friends and family I'm helping a Dentist do dental things. I know, two completely different worlds, right?
What artistic training do you have, and do you feel you have benefited most from formal lessons or your own experimentation in developing your style?
I studied at Newcastle Art School, which is under the TAFE system in Australia. There I gained an Advanced Diploma in Fine Arts and majored in printmaking. I loved studying and I thought it was majorly beneficial to my practice. It was really inspiring to be working alongside other budding artists at that time too. The type of course I did allowed me to spend a lot of time on particular areas of creating before we made a final decision of what medium we wanted to really immerse ourselves in. I have thought about furthering my studies and getting a Degree in Fine Arts but have ended up resorting to motivation and persistence to develop on my own. Being in contact with other great creatives has helped with this too. I think that both formal lessons and my own experimentation have contributed positively to where I’m at with my practice today. The combination of both has been more beneficial than one or the other.
Do you remember the first piece of artwork that you sold?
Not clearly. I think it might have been a print. At the end of each year while studying at TAFE we had an exhibition where we showed the work that we produced that year. I think it was at one of these exhibitions.
What has been the highlight of your artistic career so far?
I can't pinpoint any particular highlights. There's a few at the moment. The first one being my first solo show, which was held last year at China Heights Gallery in Sydney. That is such a huge accomplishment for me. The second being the more recent opportunity I had to do a window installation at the men's Incu store right in the city of Sydney. There was so much build up for the project and I had such a great time executing my idea and working with the people at Incu. And then theres the collaboration I did with Cake Wines. This project allowed me to break out of my comfort zone and see my work in a new context. Im also so happy with how the final product turned out and am actually quite proud.
What role has the internet played in your career so far?
The internet is a really important component of my practice. If I'm not using it as a tool for inspiration and research then I'm using it to promote myself and to network. It's so interesting to see the capabilities of people now that we have the internet and anyone can start up a blog. Everything's just so accessible and convenient. Everyone is creative in some way or another and now we all get to see that!
How do you record ideas for new pieces?
First of all, ideas come from everywhere and I might record them in my phone or on a camera then transfer/elaborate on that in a journal. My journal is a super important part of my practice. Being able to just get ideas out is liberating, even if they don't evolve. And the journal is like an artwork in itself. It's great to look back and flip through the pages and see how ideas have developed. I find it easy to forget my ideas so having a physical reminder is perfect. Plus, I'm drawn to the tactile nature of the process journal as well.
Do you have any routines associated with creating your work?
I usually work well at any time of day. I like to wake up early and get stuck straight into things. My partner and I have a second bedroom in our apartment that we have turned in to a studio for the both of us. This can be dangerous because it means I sometimes stay in my pyjamas for longer than I should. Usually the first thing I do is work on my computer for a bit and send emails and gather my thoughts and inspiration for the day then I start with the creating and that usually goes late into the afternoon/evening. Sometimes I don't even break for food, although I do drink a lot of tea. I need to have music playing. Sometimes I listen to the radio or a cd or stream stuff on my computer. It really depends on my mood what I listen to.
When I was studying there was a huge emphasis on exhibiting and getting your work out there so I was lucky to get a good amount of experience with this early on in the piece. But that doesn't mean I know everything there is to know now. I've been involved with a few group things over the past couple of years and had my show at China Heights as I mentioned before. When you work with other people you are constantly learning new things and the nature of exhibiting means you're always going to be crossing paths with other people, like-minded or not. Don't be scared to test the waters and apply for exhibitions. This is all experience as well and chances are you're going to get on someone's radar even if your work isn't right for the space for whatever reason. Persistence is key with this – knock backs aren't the end of the world. This goes for competitions and prizes as well. One piece of technical advice I can give is that if you can't be there when your work is being hung and it's a tricky hanging system make sure you give detailed descriptions on how it should be hung and make sure those descriptions are followed. I've had a negative experience with this and was poorly surprised when I saw the work on opening night. I've learnt my lesson with this!
Is there a particular gallery where you would love to see your work exhibited?
I'd love to one day be hung in the Art Gallery of NSW. Considering I've visited there so much and it's the major gallery in this city it would be awesome to have work there! It would be a great experience painting some really big walls too and create some large scale patterns around the place but not confined to an indoor space. I've got no specific sites in mind but would really love to do this one day.
How important to you is being connected to other creative people?
Super important! I like to be around people who I find inspiring and motivating and these people are always creative in their own way. They aren't always artists though. They are in the music industry, they own their own businesses, they work in fashion and some are artists. If I cant get together with someone I try to connect with them in some way and love hearing about what they've been up to. Sydney's really great like that too, it's a big city but its small, and it's easy to cross paths with other creatives and inspiring people. I've also been surprised by how willing people are to help or give feedback. It’s really encouraging.
What is your favourite colour to work with?
What inspires you?
I'm inspired by so many things – seeing other people work, nature, things that occur naturally like crystals and shells, colour, pattern, shapes, fashion, light. My favourite artists encompass an aray of styles. I love the work of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat and just to list some others who inspire me – Brett Chan, Anthony Lister, Hannah Smith, Tara Marynowsky, Ana Montiel, Mia Taninaka, Ghostpatrol, Justin Lee Williams, Kevin Tran, to name a few. I always find myself highly inspired by design work as well.
Do you experience periods of "artists block"?
I'm lucky enough not to have really experienced this yet. I usually just keep pushing or repeating over and over until something new just pops out. I have come across bouts of laziness though and times where I feel I need to lay off production for a while and just do some research until I’m ready come back with a fresh mind and fresh hands.
What did your work look like five years ago, and how has it developed?
Five years ago I was still studying and I was producing my final body of work. At this time I was screen printing imagery of teeth and text. There was lots of line work and layering and lots of mixed media. I was using watercolour then but not the same way I am now. My media application was much more free then and quite angsty to a degree. Now I feel like I have a calmer, more feminine touch when it comes to producing art. Back then I was also using bigger equipment and machines to make art. When I left TAFE I still wanted to create but didn't have the same facilities so I turned to drawing because it was so accessible and such a simple, immediate outlet.
Do you have any goals for the next five years?
I'd like to aim for a solo show each year as something to work towards and to help my work to keep evolving. Heading overseas with my work is a huge dream of mine as well. And I would also love to see my work on fabric. I love the cross over between the Fine Arts and Fashion. It's been so exciting over the past couple of years to see fine artists working alongside some beautiful labels – Kate Rohde x Romance Was Born, Gemma Smith x Rittenhouse, Ken Done x Something Else, to name a few.
Hollie Martin blog.
Hollie Martin Facebook page.
Hollie Martin blog.
Hollie Martin Facebook page.