Friday, November 2, 2007

Robert's Snow: Holli Conger Interview

I'm very happy to present another snowflake for the Robert's Snow auction. Remember, bidding starts on November 19th...just a couple short weeks away!

"Santa Junkie" by Holli Conger

available for bidding: November 26-30


Holli Conger separates her work into three distinct styles: Painterly, Clay, and Junk a Doodles. All three (even "Painterly," though not as literally) focus on three-dimensional, bright, and whimsical characters. Everything she creates has personality. Even something as flat and immobile as pizza comes alive in her hands. After learning a bit more about Holli and her work, I began to believe that her work is so alive and full of movement simply because it is reflecting her own bustling life and personality. View Holli Conger's portfolio.

Holli has a BA in Graphic Design and Advertising, and
works on everything from magazines and children's books, to greeting cards and CD covers. She is constantly busy and writes three blogs, all of which are great fun to read:
  • A Girl Who Creates: an online journal of sketches and new and old works in progress in various stages of completion
  • Big and Little Art: fun art projects you can make with your kids
  • Living the Creative Dream: a chronicle of Holli's creative life that is inspiring and useful to anyone who is trying to make creativity their business
I'd like to thank Holli Conger for taking time out of her busy, creative world to answer these questions...I hope you'll enjoy her answers!

How did you get started as an artist?

I have always loved art but it wasn’t until eighth grade career day that I knew I could really do it for a living. A graphic designer came to our class, and when I graduated high school I went straight on to get my degree in Graphic Design and Advertising. I piddled here and there in illustration but my main focus was design. It wasn't until I was pregnant with my daughter in 2004 that I decided to really pursue an illustration career. This would allow me to be able to stay home with my daughter without giving up my career. Switching my focus over to illustration also allowed me more fun and flexibility than design work. With my design business I had to meet with clients (which honestly I didn’t care much for) and with illustration, I really don’t have to do that. All my communication if done by email and sometimes by phone. I think I’ve only met one illustration client ever and that was someone local. I love what I do and the freedom it’s given me to be with my family.

What inspires you?

My daughter and all the cute paraphernalia that comes with having a child inspires me. From the shows she watched to the unicorns on her pajamas, there’s always something creative that comes out of it. I intentionally watch children’s shows with her to see what she reacts to and what colors and subject matter are on screen. I have to say that Sesame Street has by far been the biggest idea generator for illustrations.

Who are your favorite artists?

That’s a good question. I go in spurts as to who my favorites are. My old school list consists of Picasso, Matisse, Andy Warhol, and Lichtenstein. My base list of all time favorite illustrators is probably Laura Huliska-Beith, Sachiko Yoshikawa, Richard Johnson and Jimmy Pickering just to name a few. I tend to like a more wacky and wonky styles of illustration.

What is your ideal workspace?

Well, I’m building it right now [click for pictures]! It should be done by Thanksgiving and I’ll have plenty of room to stretch out. Right now I have my studio in a spare bedroom. With my new studio being tucked out of the way and off the kitchen downstairs, I’ll be able mentally separate from my work more and also not be tripping over toys trying to get to the computer. I can’t wait!

You have so many great projects going on all at once (Junk-a-Doodles, illustration, all your various blogs, plus family and probably a hundred other things I don’t know about)—how do you keep a good balance?

I think I’ve mastered the mother, wife, career thing. And sometimes I don’t know how I do it. I seldom wear myself thin but when I do, I know the only thing to do is pull back from my work. I work pretty much every weekday in some fashion or another and when I have deadline crunches I usually get up early and start working before the family is up. That seems to be the best working time for me because I get a jump start on my day.

I manage my time pretty well and know how long projects will take me. I work quick and multi-task so that’s why I can take on as much work as I do. I work better having five projects at once rather than just one at a time. I did have 15 different deadlines in 4 days earlier this year that was really rough but I got them all done and checked them off my list. I love checking projects off my list!

How did you come up with your snowflake design for this year’s Robert’s Snow?

I had a little santa sketch from last year that I just built upon. I knew I wanted to do it in my Junk A Doodles style but knew I couldn’t do too much detail because of the limited snowflake size. I took my sketch and then began to find junk that would work for different elements.

Once you began, was there anything especially interesting, challenging, or surprising about the project?

My 3 year old daughter likes to help me with my projects so she painted my background for me. I think she’ll be really disappointed when she doesn't see it on the Christmas tree this year.

Since you live in Music City, I have to ask this one: Do you listen to music while you create, and if so, what is your favorite art-making music?

I do listen to music while I work. I have to have some kind of noise going on for me to set my work pace to. I don’t listen to country though. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, I just prefer other genres. Right now I’m going through this big band/swing/jazz phase. Soon I’ll be listening to Christmas music non-stop.

What advice would you give to young people interested in becoming an artist?

Just follow your dream. I did a career day even at an elementary school last week and a little girl liked to draw but she can't draw certain things right. I told her that it was ok, because she drew them in just her own style. A lot of illustrators draw cats, frogs and bears differently so it wasn't a bad thing if she did too.

Is there anything else you'd like the readers to know about you and/or your work?

Once of my goals as an illustrator is to be an inspiration to others and help them follow their creative dreams. I have a blog I created for this called Living The Creative Dream.

Here are the other snowflakes featured today:

How you can help Robert's Snow:


Charlotte said...

That's one fun snowflake! And thanks for the great interview!

Anonymous said...

Holli lives in Nashville? No way! Hi, Holli. I'm in Smyrna. Maybe we can meet one day.

Thanks for this feature, Charlotte. That is a fun snowflake. It's been such a pleasure to read all the features today. Thanks again for contributing.

I'm definitely going to check out the big and little art blog. I'm trying to encourage art art art with my wee daughters, who love it, as all kids do.

Anonymous said...

D'OH! I had a brain cramp! I meant, "thanks for this feature, Josephine" -- not Charlotte. I was typing too quickly and looking at the previous comment. Sorry!

Elaine Magliaro said...


Thanks for this interview with Holli Conger. I like her colorful, funky Santa snowflake! I saw it hanging up at the Child at Heart Gallery.

Josephine Cameron said...

Thanks Charlotte, Jules, & Elaine for your comments! It was fun to find out more about Holli Conger's work. I saw her snowflake in the window at Child at Heart Gallery too...I loved seeing the three dimensional ones in person. Very cool!

jama said...

Wow! I love Holli's fresh, whimsical style. That spaghetti and meatballs picture is great. Unique snowflake, too. Thanks!

Mary Lee said...

A woman after my own heart! We both love to check things off the to-do list! I'm going to have to try to learn the balance thing from her, though...

HOLLi CONGER said...

Thanks so much Josephine for the feature!!!

Josephine Cameron said...

This was a really fun feature to do...thank *you* Holli, for giving us a little inside view into your life and work!