Posted by Nate Williams
Josh Holinaty is a freelance illustrator who currently lives in Edmonton, Alberta, a northern city in Canada that is cold during the winter and beautiful during the summer. Since Josh started illustrating commercially about 5 years ago where he’s had the chance to work with variety of clients — mostly editorial work for magazines such as Wired, Owl Magazine, Runner’s World, the Globe and Mail, Kill Screen Daily and Sled Island Music Festival.
When he isn’t drawing or working at the Art Gallery of Alberta, he is also drumming in his riffrock band, Camembert. He lives with his partner and fellow illustration Genevieve Simmsand their cat, Nintendo.
How did you get into illustration?
Not intentionally. Well, I’ve always liked drawing and thought it would be a nice way to make a living, but I never thought I’d be working for magazines and the like. I went to art school, but not for illustration / design. If anything, I was into the painting thing. Two of my school pals got gigs at Transworld Snowboarding out of college and thought my stuff would be good for the magazine. Those were my first jobs, surprisingly! After college life and assessing the situation I’d say my partner Genevieve made me look at it a bit more seriously. She told me I should promote myself to various magazines and other clients I’d like to work for. A few post card runs later I was getting steady enough work to actually support myself by making drawings. Neat!
What other types of jobs have you had?
First job ever was at a Pizza Hut when I was 14, and that sucked. But it did help me save up for a Playstation and Metal Gear Solid, so in the end it was totally worth it. I worked at McDonald’s, too when I was younger. Where else, food warehouses, gas stations. Usual stuff that a teen would do to support his or herself, right? Once I was out of art school I worked full time at an industrial sign shop for a couple years. After those couple of years I was getting enough freelance work to go full-time for a while.
Currently I work at the Art Gallery of Alberta as the Digital Media Coordinator alongside being a freelance illustrator. Personally I need the balance of going somewhere and working in order to get healthy ideas for drawings and to appreciate my drawing time. I found it hard to stay motivated and draw all the time when I worked at home as a full time freelancer. Now I work at a contemporary art institution during the day and create images at my studio at night. It’s a busy life but I’m surrounded by creative stuff all day. I really do enjoy it.
As we move from print to digital how do you think illustration will evolve?
In short I think the world will need more illustrations due to the whole digital thing. With iPad publications, kindles, e-readers, etc., it’s pretty clear that more and more people want more and more to look at, and they want it faster and faster. I think illustration will be seeked out more often than it has been in the past, but also on a much shorter deadline. I think we’ll be seeing more quick / graphic illustrations.
Side note / pro tip: Web Use rights seem to be included in almost all illustration contracts now, so watch out. We illustrators should make sure that we’re charging more for those web usage image rights. Just because it’s assumed that the illo will also go online doesn’t mean they’ve factored that into the budget. Don’t low ball yourself!
What is your favorite type of commercial project and why?
My favourite type of job is the poster. Music, theatre, you name it, I’ll probably do it if it’s a poster.
A poster doesn’t have to necessarily back up any words or solid concepts. In the end it comes down to one thing: it has to catch the someone’s attention to make them stop and read it. With that, it’s the perfect excuse/medium to experiment, go wild and make a crazy image. When I get a poster commission, it always comes with a certain restriction to the client: they can’t tell me what to do besides include the necessary information for the show. With 100% freedom in it’s creation it usually turns out good, because my heart was put into it and I’m usually making something new and weird.
Your work is filled with humor. Do you like to communicate other types of feelings in your work? Explain?
Clients usually approach me with an idea or story that is either generally humorous, or generally boring, and want me to make it more exciting by drawing something silly or gross. I think the language of humor (cartoons, etc) can be a very powerful tool to help get serious points across if used correctly. I’ve been commissioned a few illustrations that were for more serious stories that didn’t require any humour at all. In those situations I try to tone down the humor a bit but it ends up looking even more silly because I see I’m holding myself back. I’m not too sure what I’m getting at here, but I think I should probably stick to drawing humourouss and gross things. It’s just what I do, and I’m comfortable with that… for now.
How does your personal work different from your commercial work?
Well, simply, it’s not commercial work. Commercial work is just a means to make some cash, but I still really enjoy it. My personal work on the other hand is made because I want to make it. I didn’t draw some “mom at a dinner table with her kids” illustration because I really wanted to – I did it for the money, to be honest.
Creating personal work is an exercise in image making that isn’t required to follow any rules, guidelines, margins, gutters, bleeds, etc., because in the end I’m making it for me. My personal work is usually made on a whim.
Please describe a typical day?
Wake up. Hit snooze. Wake up. Catch a bus. Go to work. Eat. Work. Go home or to the studio. Make some drawings or practice in my band. Play video games. Sleep. Weekend comes. Play more music. Make more drawings.
What is your working environment like?
Normally I work at home, upstairs in our small converted attic. It’s nice and cozy. Recently Genevieve and I have acquired some studio space in a sort of co-op / collective with some close friends. That should make for some real exciting times for the coming year.
Who are some of your favorite illustrators and why?
Actually, I don’t look at too many. One of my favourites over the past year has been Patrick Kyle. He’s located in Toronto and really kicks ass at making images. I’m a huge fan. I think we were both in the same issue of Broken Pencil back in the day. Byron Eggenschwiler and I go back a while – we went to school together – but I’ve always really liked his work. He’s been making some real good, graphic stuff lately. Victor Kerlow out of NY is also really fun. And funny. And he draws really fast. He’s like a wizard.
And of course, Genevieve Simms, because she is way better than me.
What is something new you have noticed or learned recently?
I like to work with less. I like to work in black in white. I only like to work if it’s worth it. I like designing things that have zero of my drawings in them. It’s OK to reject a job. I like learning computer programming – and I suck at it.
Top 5 favorite things in life
- Video Games
- Drawing / Graphic
- Beer + Rock music
Top 5 bands/singers
Fave bands at the moment:
- War on Drugs
- Kurt Vile
- Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks