Jimmy Holder

Jimmy Holder

Jimmy Holder Interview

Jimmy Holder

Children's Illustrator

Who or what made you want to become an illustrator?

Probably like every other illustrator, I loved to draw.  I started drawing at an early age and never stopped.  My parents were very supportive as well.  When I was 17 years-old, I spent a week in New York at Jack Davis' studio.  He was one of the original Mad Magazine illustrators.  After that experience, I was set - I knew what I wanted to do for a living.

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elephant in the room

Did you attend art school or undertake any other formal artistic training?

I went to the University of Georgia.  They have a great Art School.  Jack Davis attended UGA as well.  His advice was - don't go to a school that just focuses on art but  go to a place where you can  experince a lot of different things.  A big university offers that.  There was always something going on.  I also went on their infamous studies abroad program to Cortona, Italy and that changed my life.

Where do you currently live and where did you grow up?

I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia.  Now I live in Pasadena, California with my wife and - I was about to say my two daughters but we have officially become empty nesters.  I have a 23 year-old daughter who lives in New York and another daughter who just graduated from high school and will go to Santa Clara University.  She is an amazing artist so we'll see what she decides to do.

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Do you have a favourite picture book or recall one of the first picture books you saw?

I can't say it was my favorite, but "Where The Wild Things Are" certainly made an impact on me.  I thought it was very disturbing but I also found myself constantly going back to it.  The characters terrified me as a child but as I got older I started to really appreciate every aspect of the book.  I also like H. A Rey - Curious George.  The characters are beautiful and simple.  

Describe your working technique and how you came to perfect it.

I started out in 1985 at a studio in Atlanta doing marker story boards for advertising agencies.  Those were the dark ages.  When I moved to California 30 years ago I started doing illustrations for magazines and children's books.  My technique back then was inking and watercoloring on streched Arches illustration paper.  I usually threw everything I could at an illustration like gouache, acrylics, colored pencil etc...on top of the watercolor.  It was usually a big mess.  About 6 years ago I started working digitally and I havent looked back.  I usually do my roughs on an IPad Pro and then I will do the finished line work on the IPad as well.  I'll shoot that over to my Mac and finish everything in Photoshop.  It works so well for commercial art when there are usually revisions somewhere along the way and it's very easy to fix things at any stage of the process.

Do you keep a sketch book?

I should keep a sketch book.  Instead, I draw on 8 1/2 x 11 copy paper and if I like the sketches, I'll throw them in a folder.  I have hundreds of folders laying around.

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