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My name is Kim Holt and I am a freelance illustrator based in Maryland. From childhood I have been interested in art, and knew at an early age that I would create for a living. By day I work as a graphics professional and by night I work on freelance and personal projects.

I have a BBA in Marketing and a short while back decided to pursue my goal of becoming an animator/illustrator and got my BFA in Animation. The approach I take with my work is to make it relatable and whimsical.

My work has been described as energetic, expressive, dynamic and full of personality. Typically incorporating a vibrant and fresh color palette, my illustrations are created in watercolor, gouache, acrylic and digital media.

National Doodle -

When did you first decide to become a graphic designer/ illustrator? Was there a pivotal moment?

Back in the 90's my mother and I started a collectible figurine company.  It lasted a couple of years and I think that was my entree into deciding that I wanted to serious do art for a living. That is also a fun time to look back on, because the sculptures we created look very much like my drawings and painting now, but I never sketched our ideas.  I just went straight into molding the clay.  I first began working as a graphic designer during the dot com era and I love communicating others ideas and simplifying what is complicated. My husband encouraged me to get my degree in fine arts.  Since I was a child I'd wanted to do animation and so that is what I decided to major in. That was a great experience for me and just what I needed to take my work to the next level.  It also led me to deciding that I wanted to be an illustrator.

The pivotal "ah-ha" moment for me deciding to become an artist happened in first grade.  Some animators came to visit my elementary school and when I showed them my drawings (I was always drawing something;)) they asked if I would like to learn to animate.  They taught me how to draw directly on the cell and I created a short called "Little Mary".  I think it was some blend of Mary had a Little Lamb and Little Miss Muffet. In any event, we "screened" it for the entire school and the kids loved it.  They requested to watch it several times during the week.  The feeling of creating something that others would like to look at again and again and that they could enjoy inspired me.

Who do you look up to? Who are your heroes in the industry? 

Honestly, I am constantly inspired by soooo many artists, many that I have seen on your blog.  The internet is so wonderful for discovery.  I get to see what others are doing and their take on different things in the world around us. One of the artists who has been very encouraging and helpful to me is Vanessa Brantley Newton (she is very generous). I am inspired also by artists of very differing styles such as Quentin Blake, Norman Rockwell, J.C. Leyendecker (I stare at the details for hours), Nicolai Fechin, John Singer Sargent, and Charley Harper, just to name a few.  This could dominate my whole interview.

Where does your training come from? Self-taught? College/Art School?

I drew for many years using just what I taught myself.  My mother studied Fashion Illustration for a few years and she would draw with me and teach me tricks.  I had so much confidence when I decided to go to art school and boy was I humbled quickly. I learned so much from my teachers and professors especially David Netherly.  They really helped me to train my eye and work to develop my style.  David taught me a ton about animation and really inspired me to want to create my own story.

How do you keep "fresh" within your industry?

I am constantly learning.  I also switch back and forth between digital and natural media to keep my skills sharp.  I used to do Illustration Friday, Monday Art Day and Thought Faucet all the time but work and my freelance projects sometimes gets in the way.

I have started back up again because I think the process of illustrating a word is a great exercise.

What are some of your current projects?

Currently I am working on an illustration for a scrap-booking event company and am in the beginning stages of character designs for a series of children's books.  I am also trying to finish my church lady series and have finally begun starting character designs for  my animated short.

Which of your projects are you the most proud of? And why?

I am proud of quite a few of them but one of my favorites is the "Class Picture". It reminds me of my childhood so much.  I think I captured many types of kids who show up on picture day that don't smile, smile too much, overdress, under dress, look bored, try to look like a star, etc.  Another favorite of mine is called "Fortune #1".  She is in a different direction for me because sometimes I like to experiment.  She looks so very different from my other illustrations and I may decide to add two more and create a series. I was also happy because it made the editors pick on Little Chimp Society.

One of my friends recently told me that everyone knows someone in one of my illustrations.  I would like to think that even if they don't they can identify or relate to what I am doing.

Are there any areas, techniques, mediums, projects in your field that you have yet to try?

I would like to try pastels but I feel like I am going to smudge them all over the paper.  I would love to also create a beautiful sketch book that I could eventually reproduce so that people who enjoy my work can see my process.  I just got three new sketch books and I have been terrified that I will mess them up.  I guess that is the case for many of us.

Any advice to the novice designer/ illustrator?

My biggest piece of advice is to be open to constructive criticism.  When you accept it and put some of it into practice your work will improve.  Some advice, that was given to me many moons ago, was that I should always realize that if I consistently practice and am open to ideas I will be able to look back each year and literally see the difference. For me personally that is so very true. Since I have been keeping my blog I can see my evolution there.

What makes a design or illustration successful?

I think a design or illustration is successful when it makes people think or talk.  I like my work to really resonate with people.  I like for people to remember a situation from their own life or think of someone they know. Also, some things are just timeless and regardless of the setting or costuming, the small expressions captured on a characters face or their stance and positioning bring back memories.

What do you do to keep yourself motivated and avoid burn-out?

I watch movies.  I pay attention to the composition, how color is used and the set design.  When I see something that is really captivating I try to use that in my work.  I have one piece that I created right after I watched "The Kings Speech"  I loved the composition and staging in that movie.

Finish this sentence. "If I weren't an illustrator I would have been a..."

an anthropologist.  People are so absolutely fascinating and I think illustrators spend a lot of time capturing people and subtleties about them and their environments all the time in their work. At the very least that is what I am inspired to do.  I think it is the little nuances that draw people in and make the work relatable.  Sometimes it can take people a while to even realize what has captivated them about a piece.  They just know they like it.

And finally, what is the best thing on prime-time TV right now?

I love Modern Family and the New Girl.  The Voice  also has me pretty hooked, because I like nice reality TV.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

lovely work - great characters!

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