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Hi! My name is Holly DeWolf and I currently live in the Kennebecasis Valley region of New Brunswick, Canada. I'm an Illustrator, author, blogger and visual story teller. I was born to drink coffee & make things daily. I do mostly children's book, stationary sometimes decorative, narrative and editorial work.

Twitter: @hollydewolf 

When did you first decide to become an illustrator? Was there a pivotal moment?

I believe it was when took a class on mixing narratives with image making. The idea of creating imagery for text really caught my attention. Soon after, my design days were cut in half and I concentrated on illustration.

Who do you look up to? Who are your heroes in the industry?
I look up to the creativity that my two daughters constantly provide. Their fearless open minded ideas are refreshing as well as  admirable. We lose that sense of being random and working without a plan or layout. It's good to just make nonsense and messes from time to time. We do a weekly project called What We Learned This Week when we pick an idea, research it and then illustrate it. My kids remind me that everything is so damn interesting everyday-you just want to bottle it! 

I love the history of illustration so early illustrators like Mary Blair, Ludwig Bemelmans, Jim Flora …you know, the real vintage movers and shakers are fascinating. You can take away a lot of inspiration from these early image makers when it comes to layout, colour and the overall style of a piece. Some of these early works really communicated their massages exceptionally well. They had mad skills. But my all time favourite illustrator is Lane Smith. But really, there is so much talent to drool over out there so I try to keep the envy at a minimum. 

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

I attended NSCAD University in Halifax, Nova Scotia for 5 years. After I graduated, my education still continues to this day. I'm convinced this career comes with a lifelong education pass. Anyone in the illustration or design industry knows that we are constantly in a state of reinvention. I consider myself both trained and self taught. At some point you must leave the sub-culture of school and make your way to another culture that involves clients, promotion and lots of coffee. It's good to have a firm foundation that art school helps you build that you can continually add to. 

How do you keep it "fresh"?

To put it simply, I have to go with my gut. I think I like to mix what comes naturally with pushing my own boundaries. Competing with myself has always been an automatic thing. This often goes against trends and whats popular but at the same time it forces me to just creatively be me! 

I step away from the internet noise as often as I can. There is something really important that happens in those quiet moments. That is usually when all the good stuff comes out. I have always done self -directed projects, themes, and a running series that keeps me fresh. 

Also, I've hit a milestone in my career so these things tend to be a gentle reminder that you can veer left or right but going along the straight and narrow has already been done. There is still so much that I want to do and experience in this industry. 

What are some of your current projects?

I broke into the children’s publishing market last year so that is now my main focus. Also, I recently illustrated a seal character called Port City Champ to promote summer reading in Saint John, New Brunswick. I’ve added to my education by taking small online courses to bump up my skills. And as always, I’m still doing a lot of writing.

 Which of your projects are you the most proud of? And why?
I'm pretty proud of the book I illustrated for Nimbus Publishing, What's Going On At The Time Tonight? It's colourful and fun. What kid wouldn't love an underwater party? 

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

I would like to create more digital illustrations in the future. Although I have no plans of giving up painting anytime soon. It's just one of those creative habits you know! 

I've developed a real infatuation with the idea of teaching in the future. I could talk about all things creative business, illustration, promotion and freelancing all day. It coincides with the book I authored on the same lines so I know I definitely will love the challenge to push creative minds. 

I love lettering, I love words so I want to do more hand lettering projects. Since Art School, I’ve always created work that has a narrative base to it-I call them Tiny Narratives. Quotes, funny sayings, one-liners often make it into my work quite often.

Any advice to the novice illustrator?

• Ask for what you want. Tell your audience what you do. Show them your work. Build relationships that go beyond just connecting online as small talk. 
• Don't rely on your computer to do everything-learn how to draw and come up with concepts in pencil. Keep a sketchbook. Hold onto illustration foundations and traditions-they are useful and important. 
• Keep your social networking in reality. It is time consuming but the majority of it does not pay so make sure what you are doing online is going to benefit you and not be a distraction from the real work you should be making. 
• Give back to the industry and it will give back to you. 
• Lastly, have a support system. Freelancing can often feel like solitary confinement. It's important to leave creative Middle earth sometimes and be with folks in your community.

What makes an illustration successful?

5 things: 
• When the message is clear. 
• When the client is happy. 
• When you've enjoyed the process. 
• When you are happy with the final work.
• When you get paid in a timely manner.  

If you've blown their mind on something more than what they thought would happen + creating a great working collaboration, then that is a success. Here is another take on it: what most illustrators do not focus on is how they feel about the completed work. If you genuinely love the piece and have no desire to alter it, or re-do it and cannot wait to put it into your portfolio, then that is a true victory!

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

I think the best thing I do for myself is to change up my routine. These changes involve quiet moments to just making something different. I routinely focus on having a creative hour daily. This helps break up the routine or resets a challenging day. Doing self directed projects is good for the creative mind and it allows me to improve my work and add new life into my promotions. I think having a constant flow of ideas that I want to work on the side gives me something to look forward to.

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

A teacher, veterinarian or a coffee shop owner surrounded by a lot of books!

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

Right now I really miss The Walking Dead so in the meantime I'm catching up some shows that I’ve missed on Netflix like Community. I also like to revisit the classics from time to time. 

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