Report from interviews for the Making Great Illustration book. For more info see About
I interviewed Brad Holland for Varoom magazine a few years ago. I remember that at the time the prospect of meeting this giant of American illustration, a hero filled me with both excitement and intrepidation. At the end of that long interview on a rainy December evening he saw me down from his loft apartment to the street below, offering to walk me to the metro so that I could avoid getting wet. I was so buzzing with the thrill of having seen so much of his work and spending so much time listening to his stories about his life and career that I don’t think I would have noticed if it was raining real cats and dogs. That memory really set the tone and having had so much correspondence since that time I feel that I am visiting a friend. New York at any time of year is a thrill to me so that’s a bonus.
Brad lives and works in a iron frame building in downtown Manhattan and as I walk through Soho on a December afternoon, the pavements piled high with yesterday’s snow the air fresh and heavy with a sense of seasonal joviality, I think about the questions I’m going to ask and begin to mentally psyche myself up.
Brad’s artwork looks down onto the apartment, a wonderful large canvas of three greyhounds something to dream of owning. As well as his obvious status as an artist Brad is known for his tireless campaigning for the rights of illustrators and it is this work that has somewhat become a preoccupation seeming to exert unwelcome demands upon his time and pressures upon his life.
Brad seems tired but still enthusiastic to talk about his work and his latest clients with his cat climbing around, purring into the voice recorder. He shows me examples of a commission he is working on for a casino where he is working with the theme of Fish.
It’s a treat to see the pile of visuals that won’t be painted, to see the journey of the ideas and to witness the workings of a keen brain. The paintings are more vibrant in the flesh than they appear on the printed page. Seeing them is a real reminder of the value of the craft of painting using pigment – they are paintings which will be printed.
By the time I have to leave it is freezing and dark and I head back uptown the image of the greyhounds fixed in my brain.
Photography by Andrea Liggins
Brad Holland Site