Meet the Artist - Lisa Holley
So lets begin...
So Lisa, how would you explain what it is you create and what mediums do you use?
Lisa- The ongoing series which I illustrate is called "You Are What You Eat". Frequently I take liberty and compose an animal from objects that are related to the animal, but the relationship is usually evident. For instance: The "Dog's Wood Play" image below, is composed from plants and flowers whose names have the word "dog" in it's identification, ie: dog wood, dog rose hips, or even flea bane.
Then other times I compose the animals from what they eat. I always provide a "content key" so the piece becomes educational and a bit more interesting.
Was there a pivotal moment in your life when you knew that you were an artist?
Lisa- I was always "artsy craftsy" growing up, designing and making my own clothes and the usual crafts which children enjoy. However, I enjoyed them to an extreme and started selling small gift items starting in 5th grade. When I realized I might be an artist was not until college, majoring in business and advertising, I found I had more creative ideas than the rest of my classmates. My Sophomore year I transferred to a University with a large art department and along with the various requirements I took a class in Nature Drawing. In a sense, the rest is history. Although I worked in design studios after graduation for 5 years, eventually I returned for graduate work concentrating on illustration. When I moved west to a ski resort there weren't any advertising companies to employ me, so I participated in art fairs with my floral drawing and paintings.
When and how did you sell your first art piece? How did that make you feel?
Lisa- When I first moved west I sent one of my graphite floral drawings to the Wyoming State Fair under the category of "professional Artist". My daughter and I traveled to the fair and when I entered the pavilion to see where my work hung, I did a true double take, I had won Best in Show.
So how long have you considered yourself a professional artist?
Lisa- Right out of college I considered myself a professional artist as I was fortunate to make a steady stream of sales right away. It has only been in the past 10 years I have not supplemented my income with a "real" job as art sales income is not predictable.
How did you discover your unique style? Has it changed over time?
Lisa- When I moved to Sun Valley, Idaho there was only one gallery in town. In the '80's town would shut down leaving only the school and the supermarket open for 2 months in the spring and fall. A time period we still refer to as "slack". I was new to town and wanted to get my work recognized. So, when the gallery announced that they were calling for townspeople to draw their pet and come hang it on their walls I felt I had to produce. BUT, I didn't draw animals! At that time in Idaho there was a Jack Rabbit infestation and the farmers were having a problem rounding up and eradicating the Jack Rabbits. So, remembering my art history and the art work of Giuseppe Arcimboldo (16th century) who composed people from fruits and flowers, I drew a rabbit from the farmers produce. It was voted the most popular drawing and the gallery carried my work for the next 10 years. I was thrilled. At the gallery owners suggestion I started painting the animals in watercolor.
What are some obstacles you have faced trying to get your work out there?
Lisa- Several potential clients have said, "I love your work, but I don't have any more room on my walls". Consequently I produce a line of note cards with my web site on the back so they can go to my web site a look up the "content key" and look at other works that are for sale. Then I decided to produce a limited (40 each design) line of scarves so that people could wear my art work.
What are some successes you have enjoyed as an artist?
Lisa- Longevity wins out! I have clients around the world and name recognition is improving every year. One unusual successful recognition came from a hummingbird who decided to take nectar from a flower I was painting outside. I felt sorry for her.
Do you hire help with any particular parts of your job that you used to do yourself?
Lisa- As the Internet has become more predominate I have hired a web master since 1999. I also have a lady who helps me do the computer layouts for advertising and designing my silk scarves. I sketch several ideas, she puts them up on the computer so we can see how each would look and proceed with publication. Before the internet I would go directly to the advertiser with my sketches and depend on them to understand my ideas. Usually that worked.
What are your favorite parts about being an artist?
Lisa- Meeting my clients past and future. Having their suggestions as to what animals they would enjoy seeing and as I start a new illustration I ask my blog followers what information they can add. I am not a "horse person" and had to rely on suggestions from people who read my blog as to their experiences with horses and what they eat. Bananas? I never knew! Learning the various aspects of content. ie: in the "Paternal Colony" the Emperor Penguins consume many fish that were fascinating to research. The Ice Fish do not have blood but a liquid similar to antifreeze running through their system!
What are some goals right now that you want to reach that have to do with your art career?
Lisa- Lately I have been applying to Natural History Museums hoping to interest them in my work as an educational tool in their displays or collections.
What advice would you give to other artists trying to make a living from their art?
Lisa- Have a source of income that is NOT art related. Living in a resort community, I found that being a waitress fun and flexible. The job got me out with people and away from my drawing table. Also, it gave me the flexibility to travel during "slack", do research at Natural History Museums and pick up classes which helped me solve problems as my work evolved. Also, display your work wherever possible. I receive lots of favorable comments and sales from a wonderful restaurant in town which has had my rotating art work on their walls for the past 5 years. A win-win situation.
Where can people see and buy your artwork?
Lisa- During the past 15 years the majority of my sales occur online: http://www.lisaholley.com.
Below are the 3 "Paternal Penguins" have been completed and I am now working on their "Content Key".
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