Interview: Jeremy Holmes
Jeremy Holmes sagt von sich selbst, er sei Illustrator. Im Prinzip ist das natürlich richtig, in Wirklichkeit ist er jedoch ein Story Teller im klassischen Sinne — so detailliert und ausgefeilt sind seine Bilder, daß sie keines Textes bedürften, um ihre Geschichten zu erzählen. Als Mischform zwischen Illustration und Collage haben sie auch visuell eine erzählerische Dichte und Tiefe, die das Auge des Betrachters über längere Zeit fesselt.
Im April hatte ich die Arbeiten von Jeremy Holmes hier schon einmal gefeatured, und Jeremy war so freundlich, mir neben eines Interviewangebotes auch gleich hochauflösende Versionen seiner Illustrationen zu mailen — schliesslich sollte kein Detail verloren gehen. Einige grössere Bilder gibt es also hier.
Whatever my title, the end goal is still the same; I want to tell you a story.
Diskursdisko: Hi Jeremy. To start things off, what’s your background? When did you start illustrating?
Jeremy Holmes: Most of the artist bios I’ve read seem to always be of the same vernacular, “I’ve known I was destined to be an artist since the tender age of 6.”
At age 6, I loved mud. Was I creative with my medium? If you call submerging my bare feet deep down into watery brown goo for the sole purpose of generating sloppy blurping mud farts creative, then yes, I guess I too was destined to be an artist.
Unlike most, I didn’t grow up with a pencil for a finger. I did however have an appetite for play. I was constantly concocting whimsical tales and developing goofy, off the wall games. If no one was around to assist me with my creations, I’d just adjust the story or game to suit my current situation (a.k.a., I was a loner).
As I grew up, I noticed I had some drawing ability, but my love of the outdoors and inability to sit still handcuffed my talents till college. Once in college, I decided to be an architect. It was in my first college drawing class where I realized art was the perfect medium for my stories and games. Unfortunately, finding the perfect career to suit wasn’t as obvious.
After trying my hand at architecture, web design, graphic design and grad school, I’ve ended up an illustrator. Or maybe I’m a “graphitecture webustrator”. Whatever my title, the end goal is still the same; I want to tell you a story.
Dennis Kuronen, a mentor of mine, once told me the enemy of a great idea is a good one. He couldn’t have been more right.
Diskursdisko: How do you mainly produce your art? Do you have a system or method that you adhere to?
Jeremy Holmes: My art begins with words. I sit down and begin to write down all I know about whatever it is I’m trying to create. As I write, small images begin to form in my head and I quickly doodle them down. Once I exhaust this avenue I turn to the library and the internet to gather more words to add to my collection. At some point in this process I notice connections between certain words and doodles that spark an idea. I quickly sketch out the idea, circle it and continue on thinking of new concepts. Dennis Kuronen, a mentor of mine, once told me the enemy of a great idea is a good one. He couldn’t have been more right.
From here I begin sketching out the idea I feel works best. Once I have a tight sketch put together I begin experimenting with different mediums to see which one works best with the concept. Then I make the final piece.
Diskursdisko: What inspires you?
Jeremy Holmes: I’m inspired by a clever story told through use of a unique form. I love the physics behind the works of Lothar Meggendorfer and Keith Newstead. I love the insane process and preciousness of stop motion animation. If you haven’t seen Coraline, your missing a master piece.
Diskursdisko: Much of your artwork is in a semi-collage style, with different elements in different textures layered threedimensionally, adding depth – how did you develop this style?
Jeremy Holmes: I’ve always been a huge fan of collage. There is something about creating this kit of parts that you put together to tell your story that intrigued me to no end. During my grad school years I began experimenting with different collage techniques. As my work progressed, I started bringing parts of the collage process into the computer to allow for greater (faster) experimentation. With the computer I am able to change the color, size or shape of a found pattern in seconds. By hand, this could take hours or even days and when creating commercial work, taking days to draw a pattern usually isn’t an option.
For my personal work, I find myself retreating back to scissors, paper and ink. No matter how incredible your electronic talents, nothing can replace the dimensionality, tactility and fragility of a hand crafted collage.
Diskursdisko: You’re working on a children’s book at the moment, which I featured here a while ago. Can you tell us a bit about the work on the book? What’s the story? How did the book project come about?
Jeremy Holmes: Since Mutt Ink’s conception, one of my main objectives was to find my way into the children’s book market. Just over a year ago, I was approached by Chris Watson from Scotland. He’s currently in the process of building a children’s book publishing house called Bartholomew Hat Publications and wanted Mutt Ink to illustrate and design their very first picture book, “Birds.” He had found my work on Childrensillustrators.com, a portfolio site based in the UK that promotes children’s illustrators from around the world.
The story is a quirky little tale that asks the question, how high can birds fly? Do you know how high? The book should be available in Scotland in the Fall.
Diskursdisko: You’ve also been posting regular updates to the work in progress on the book – has “going public” influenced your work process? Do you feel increased pressure, having thousands of people looking over your shoulder?
Jeremy Holmes: Not at all. When you illustrate commercially, you constantly have thousands of people looking over your shoulder. If it’s a NY Times piece, you have millions.
I started the blog as a simple way to share my progress on the book with friends and family. Since then, it’s gathered a much broader audience. That’s the beauty of the internet.
Diskursdisko: When working for clients like magazines or companies, how do you keep up the balance between clients’ wishes and concepts and your own need to produce art? Do you feel there actually is any difference between “commercial” artwork and other art?
Jeremy Holmes: AHHHH, the age old question. My answer is simple. With commercial work, your ideas must communicate to the intended audience. With personal work, they need only communicate to you. That doesn’t mean the commercial work is any less gratifying, it’s just different.
Diskursdisko: You’ve obviously got the website at muttink.com, any other presences on the web you’d like to publicize? Social networking?
Diskursdisko: As you use the internet to showcase your art, are there any other websites you feel have influenced you, opened your mind or shown you new ways of creating art?
Diskursdisko: Of all the work you’ve created, or at least the ones showcased on your website, can you name a couple that you have a special love for or connection to?
Jeremy Holmes: While in grad school I created a book for the popular children’s rhyme “There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.” Just as I began the Bartholomew project, Chronicle Books approached me about publishing my own picture book. It’s been a year in the works and is due out in stores this Fall.
I also have a tender spot for my first animation project. It’s a retelling of the not so popular Grimm tale “The Bird, The Mouse and The Sausage” that I created over 5 years ago. It can be viewed here. Click the butterfly to begin.
Diskursdisko: Do you have any specific plans for the future direction of your artwork?
Jeremy Holmes: I believe my artwork will continue heading towards more narrative forms. I love to tell stories, so it’s only natural. Just recently, I came up with an idea for a stop motion picture. We’ll see where it goes.
Diskursdisko: Jeremy, many thanks for the interview – is there anything you’d like to add?
Jeremy Holmes: Many thanks for this opportunity. It’s been a pleasure!
(Old Lady image taken from the forthcoming title There Was An Old Lady published by Chronicle Books Fall 2009)
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