The british illustrator Jake Hollings (b. 1993) has a wonderfully fresh way of combining thick brush strokes, colored cut outs, pencil scribbles and weirdly anonymous, yet extremely appealing human figures. All of Jake’s works has a tangible feel that lifts the narratives up from the paper (or out of the screen) and pulls you into his constructed universe.
Jake Hollings has a dregree in illustration from Hudddersfield University, and since he graduated this summer he has pursued a career as a freelance illustrator. We love how he uses handmade textures in his collages, and the way he juxtaposes the rough strokes with clean cuts really adds an amazing sense of dynamic to his works. It’s clear that Jake loves his work and it is liberating to experience how the madness of the creative process shines through in the final pieces, while still being very well organized and focused. Jake’s aesthetic leaves room for coincidences and imagination, and exactly this aroused our curiosity.
Here you can dig into the talented Jake Hollings’ amazing universe, read some of his thoughts on the power of social media and get an insight into his working process and what he dreams about for the future.
What made you choose your current path?
I took the Illustration course at uni as a bit of a gamble really. I had always been interested in fine art, mainly throughout college but didn’t really know a lot about illustration. I knew I wanted to make art but wasn’t sure how I would make a living from it so I gave myself the option to pursue graphic design or illustration.
Since I’ve discovered the contemporary illustration scene and started speaking to fellow artists, I’ve become obsessed with it. I am constantly checking my social media for their latest work and sharing mine too; learning from them and developing my own practise. The feedback and encouragement from the illustration community is amazing. The idea that I can live wherever I like and potentially work on new projects with new people on a weekly basis is perfect for me and it keeps me motivated to make new work.
Can you tell us about your working process?
When I start on a piece I’ll usually sketch out a few ideas, but I do have a tendency to dive straight into it because I can’t help myself. My sketchbooks are very important to me like any artist. I have to jot down my ideas when I get them before they are lost forever. My process for the final illustration usually consists of initial madness in my studio. I will get out all of my materials, usually coloured paper, various paints, pencils, pens and whatever else I can find in my equipment boxes and make a mess!
Textures are important in my work so I create as many of these as I think I will need. Painting, scribbling and scrap bits of paper are my usual choice. Based on my ideas and sketches I will draw and paint separate elements of the image I want to create. A lot of the time I will choose the first piece of paper and the first brush I see, to start creating. I find that spontaneity plays an important role in my process. As soon as I have a large pile of textures and drawings I can scan them in and open them in photoshop. This is where I construct my illustration (and in a way it is my favourite part). By cutting each element out and applying them to a different layer I can play for hours and arrange them to look how I want. Seeing an image come together is really satisfying.
Do you have a project that you are especially proud of?
I recently made a series of illustrations for a personal project called ‘Retreat’. At the time I found myself in a bit of a lull with my work and I needed to get back into making work I enjoyed. So I set myself a brief I could have fun with.
The brief was to ‘produce a series of illustrations depicting the peace and tranquility of the wilderness. What would it be like to break free from the confines of everyday life? This is the project that really got me motivated again and improved my style of work in a big way. It gave me confidence in my process and was the starting point for much of my latest work. You can see this project on my website.
What are your biggest source of inspiration/influence at the moment?
There is a blog called ‘Postcard Club‘ in which artists from all over the world trade postcards with each other that they have made. I have been lucky enough to get involved and swap work with some really cool illustrators and designers. In terms of my biggest source of influence at the moment it would be the creatives I come into contact with on social media everyday. Right now my favourite is Instagram. It seems as though all the best artists are mad about it. I have made lots of fantastic contacts from having a professional profile and regularly keeping a blog of my work on there.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I am working on pieces for a few exhibitions/craft fairs coming up this month and the next. I have a zine fair at a bar in my home town on the 18th of this month for record store day which should be really fun. I am currently in my studio making a series of hand made postcards and zines for that one. I will be involved in an exhibition in Leeds, UK where I will also be selling prints, badges and hand whatever else I can make before then.
What are your hopes, dreams and plans for the future?
I am hoping that I can find an illustration agent that suits my style and likes my work so that I can progress and work with some great clients on exciting projects. I am in the process of looking for one so I will see what happens! My plan is to direct my work to editorial illustration because I feel as though my style will work nicely in that field. I don’t like to think too far ahead however. I would like to keep developing and coming up with fresh ideas, that will make me happy.
Rikke Luna (f. 1988) og Matias Albæk-Falk (f. 1988) er stiftere af idoart.dk, og driver derudover formidlingsbureauet I DO ART Agency samt forlaget I DO ART Books.