Yorkshire-born and London-based illustrator Jake Hollings' work goes beyond the conventional lines of illustration. With a knack in using different mediums to incorporate in his illustrations and his unique way of drawing human figures, Hollings’ end results are always fascinating. We caught up with the illustrator about his style, overcoming creative blocks and what gets him going day to day. 

“I studied fine art and printmaking at college before completing a BA Illustration course at Huddersfield University. To be honest, I went
into my course completely blind to the possibilities of illustration and wasn’t sure what direction I was heading in. It took me until I graduated to develop a consistent style and approach to my work. I started discovering design trends and top artists through platforms like Behance and Instagram. Illustration feels like a tight community now, where everybody supports each other and contributes to each others’ success despite obvious competition for work. I moved down to London a few months ago and started working part-time at an art shop, and the rest of the week I am freelancing as an illustrator. I wouldn’t say I have a usual daily routine really, each day differs depending on what I have going on that week.” 

“Some days I will be at home working on commissioned work and speculative work. Other times I’ll travel to my friends studio and use the print facilities. These are generally my favourite days. Coffee and music also gets me going! It may be a little cliché but it’s tried and tested. If I’m going to the print studio that day I’ll pretty much be excited anyway so I’ll pack up my materials and head for the tube. I usually find that taking a short amount of time away from the work allows my mind to wander, allowing me to produce something fresh.” Competition is probably one of the most intimidating aspects of being in London as a creative. With so many talents out there in the field of illustration, graphic design or photography, having a unique style will help you stand out, and that is what we see in Hollings work. “I would say my work is clean but dirty, rough but smooth, minimal but busy. In my recent work I’ve tried to stick to a colour palette, and I create imagery with awkward figures, crude textures and pastel colours. My style has evolved from printmaking and collage, so I construct my illustration in this way piecing it together and layering. I plan how it will look to a certain extent but it tends to evolve in the art working stage. I do get creative blocks now and again, mainly when I'm rusty and haven't been making enough work. So I’d say the best way is to keep busy and keep making because you'll become way more comfortable with your style and your ideas. If i'm struggling for ideas I like to do something completely different and get away from it for an hour or so. A nice walk or just chill with friends, I find that my ideas come to me naturally then.” 

"I usually find that taking a short amount of time away from the work allows my mind to wander, allowing me to produce something fresh."

“I work with different mediums - a range of drawing materials; graphite, charcoal, ink as well as occasional painting but this has reduced lately. I’m enjoying drawing with graphite and scanning in. The reduction process on photoshop is really satisfying whilst layering block colour with textures. Hand making elements is the most fun though. I’m in the process of planning some lino cuts and screen prints to introduce to my digital work so that will be fun to experiment with. There are so many amazing illustrators out there at the moment so if I had to pick any I’ll pick a selection of the alphabet and go from there. L for Lauren Humphrey, M for Monge Quentin and N for Nana Prieler. All three of them are experts with their own unique colour palettes and figurative style, and I look forward to seeing everything they publish.” 

"This year I've been doing various editorial illustrations, not too many though! I'v been doing a lot of personal work and just enjoying developing my style. One of my favourite projects was with Fine Little Day where I was asked to produce two huge prints for their shop. Such a cool client to work for, they produce some wicked stuff. I've been busy teaching myself graphic design too as a side thing, and it's an area i want to use so much more. So, I've got some plans in my head for my next big personal project and all I can say is that it involves tasting beer and making art, haha, so watch this space for that one.” Hollings also recently worked on a zine with Jimmy Hay who we also featured on Pocket. “So I first spoke to Jimmy through Instagram, he messaged me asking if I’d like any risograph printing because he's got his own machine. I ended up getting some postcards printed by him and went to his house in Hackney to pick them up. He's such a sound guy and we just chatted about each others work for a while. Everything else was spoken about over email and we both decided to make a zine. Our drawings were made completely separate and collated into the zine half and half and he got it all printed for us. I'd definitely like to work with him again.”

“I always feel weird giving advice because I'm still pretty new to this myself really. But I'd probably say: Get a style sorted that you enjoy and feel confident working with, keep plugging away and don't get disheartened, make lots of friends and go to events, aim high and enjoy what you make!”