Holly Sharpe Interview
Lemonade Magazine: For those who aren’t aware of you or your art could you give us a brief introduction to who you are and what you do?
Holly Sharpe: I am an artist/ illustrator/ printed textile designer from Scotland, UK. Apart from art, another passion of mine is travelling. The experiences I have had, the incredible people I met along the way and the amazing places I have seen are something I will always carry with me and continues to influence and inspire me and my work.
LM: Can you tell us a little about your artistic background?
HS: My artistic background begins from a young age. I started to get really into drawing and painting when I started school. Encouraged by teachers and tutors along the way, I quickly developed a fiery passion to become the next Picasso… yes, I still am foolishly naive. Fast forward to my 18th year of life when I went to Art College and much to my own surprise – after only ever caring about drawing and painting – I decided to study printed textile design. This gave me such broad experience, encouraged me to work in a tactile way, let me experiment with exotic dyes and fine silks yet at the same time drawing remained at the core. I continued to draw people throughout my studies and was constantly looking for ways to involve this obsession. This is where fashion illustration conveniently came in and is one of my main avenues today.
LM: Who or what inspired you to start creating art?
HS: There is no one specific thing or person that inspired me to start creating art. It was a constant build up. The main drive always came, and most of the time still does, from within. This combination of an unexplainable ambition to pursue something along with the encouragement and support of close family, friends, mentors and tutors pretty much explains why I ever began creating art.
LM: How would you describe your art?
HS: I would like to think it is a vibrant concoction of dramatic colours, energy and lines whilst still remaining somewhat delicate and ethereal. I always aim to create work that speaks to the viewer in some way or another. I suppose it is a reflection or projection of the emotion and energy that I have injected into it, which is often entirely subconscious and therefore can be left ambiguous for the viewer to interpret as they wish.
LM: How do you start off a new project? Do you always start from the same point or do you try to work more organically?
HS: I can sometimes be quite sporadic and irrational with my work pattern, so no, I don’t think I always start from the same point. It does entirely depend on the type of project, whether it is personal work, a client commission or for a specific person. I have always loved doing research, which I suppose is the beginning of most things I do. This usually gets the ideas and motivation flowing and from there I tend to work quite organically. More recently I have been trying to get in the habit of sketching first… but this usually turns out to be more of a warm up, the same way you might play scales on an instrument before playing the actual piece, as supposed to being a practice for the final work.
LM: Tell us about your favourite piece of work that you have created to date and why it is so special to you?
HS: My favourite piece of work is constantly changing. It is usually my most recent work. After a piece is complete I develop a strange bond/ obsession with it, I will take time away from it, come back to it, keep staring at it, all the time deciding whether or not I like it. My decision will drift for a while. However, once I have settled this mini argument in my head, being stubborn as I am, I will not go back on it. Either it is banished forever from my or anyone’s sight or it is released unto the world wide web! From my most recent work, I would say my favourite’s are ‘Hooked II’ and ‘Shadows’. There is just something I love about what they have captured, they were both entirely unplanned and took shape almost of their own accord. Which fascinates and perplexes me as it often feels out of my conscious control.
LM: What’s the craziest idea you’ve either been proposed or come up with?
HS: Can’t think of a work- related one, but I often do things that other people may see as crazy, such as deciding to jet off to America for three months by myself and abandoning my life in London… that was the latest thing.
LM: Who are your favourite artists, past or present?
HS: Egon Schiele, Lucian Freud, Conrad Roset, Julie Verhoeven, Chloe Early and Howard Tangye are just a few of so many.
LM: What is your favourite piece of work created by another artist and why?
HS: I find it impossible to say one ultimate favourite. I fall in love with a lot of work from other artists all the time.
LM: Do you have a particular material, brand or technique that you swear by?
I now only use faber castell pencils. Maybe the difference is more psychological than anything else, but that works for me. I love a good water colour paper, but haven’t yet settled on my favourite brand.
LM: What do you think is in store during the next twelve months for design? How has the recent recession affected you?
I think design is going to continue to grow and develop at the phenomenal speed it has been for the past few years. Times are changing and some form of revolution needs to happen to enable us all to survive this recession, design already alters the way we live our lives and I think there is more to come. I am not sure how it has affected me personally as I graduated in 2008, when the recession first started, so I don’t have much to compare it to.
LM: What’s the single most important thing you want to tell young designers just starting out?
HS: Believe in yourself, and don’t ever stop believing in yourself. You can’t succeed at something as competitive as art or design unless you do it whole heartedly. If you don’t have faith and belief in yourself and your work, then nobody else is going to.
LM: If you had to up sticks and leave the country where would you choose and why?
HS: That is so hard to answer. Out of the places I have travelled to, I am most in love with India and New Zealand. If it was to live though, probably somewhere in Europe… or San Francisco! After spending some time there at the end of last year, I fell in love with it. It is like nowhere I have ever been, and nothing like anywhere else I have visited in America. The whole place just seems to embrace innovation. I met some amazing people there and some of the most intelligent I have ever met. I just had a feeling of being able to make big things happen whilst I was there, anything was possible.
LM: Who controls the stereo and what’s usually playing in the studio?
HS: Me, as I have been working solo for quite awhile. A huge variety. I mainly love electronic–type music or intense, relatively dramatic music without lyrics such as Zoe Keating or the Layer Cake soundtrack. Recently I tend to flip between, The Knife, Crystal Castles, Death in Vegas, M83, Desire, Fever Ray and The XX. Love a good mix too and some soothing classical from time to time.
LM: What can we expect from you in the future and is there anywhere you would like your work to take?
HS: You can hopefully expect more large scale (for me anyway) paintings, some edgier illustrations and a decent dose of experimenting no doubt. I would love to expand my audience within the UK and Europe and fingers crossed have an exhibition or two!