Meet Hollie Fuller, the Leeds Arts University graduate and the artist behind this issues front cover.
Since graduating from Leeds Arts University earlier this year, Hollie Fuller has already established herself as a bona fide artist with some impressive accolades under her belt. Hollie talks to us about developing her style, the power of illustration and her hopes for the future.
Drenched in pastel tones and dripping with character, Fuller’s illustrations instantly transform the mundane scenes of everyday life - such as commuting - into worlds you itch to be part of. Her playful characters navigate their day-to-day with personalities as big as their loveable ears and oversized torsos. With distinctive style and soft hues, Fuller transforms our otherwise monotonous daily routines by injecting her witty humour and signature colour palettes.
With such a distinct style, it’s no surprise that Hollie has been drawing for as long as she can remember. Growing up in Grimsby, Hollie recollects how she was ‘constantly drawing’ as a child: “I’ve always loved drawing from the second I could hold a pencil. I once drew every single character from The Simpsons.” Hollie has since developed her own cast of signature characters - such as Colin the Cowboy - who grace the page with heartwarming details and individual nuances.
Establishing an instantly recognisable style is a challenge for any aspiring artist, and Hollie explains how her ‘rubbish drawings’ in the past paved the way for her to develop her trademark style: “There was a lot of trial and error, rubbish drawings and frustration at not knowing what my ‘style’ was. But I think those rubbish drawings were valuable in their own way as they helped to define the way I like to draw things. Hollie also notes how it’s easy to compare yourself to others and feel inadequate, especially during your rubbish stage: “I think it’s so important to stop watching what other people are doing and just do your own thing,” Hollie advises. “Find something you love, something you’re interested in, something you’re inspired by, and make work about that.”
Anyone who commutes on the daily wishes their regular bus was as colourful and uplifting as Hollie’s illustrations. Her observational, character-driven art depicts with wit the simplicities of day-to-day life, encouraging us to look up from our phones or shoes and appreciate the nuances of the people around us. “I find inspiration in everyday mundane things, like people waiting for a bus,” muses Hollie. “I love people-watching and imagining what people are doing, where they’re going or what they’re talking about.”
The melting pot of Leeds is a good one to watch simmer; we share a doorstep with people from all walks of life. From students, locals and passers-through to the man who walks his ferrets in town, Leeds is full of characters. Since graduating from Leeds Arts University with a first-class degree in Illustration, Hollie has moved back home to Grimsby for “A break from city life”. Yet the rising artist still pines for the creative culture that radiates from the city: “Leeds is a great place to be as a creative person,” expresses Hollie. “There’s always something to see, new exhibitions and events popping up. That’s something I miss now that I’ve moved.”
Despite missing the city, Hollie is certainly keeping herself busy with a number of impressive commissions, garnering recognition from esteemed platforms such as It’s Nice That. Championed as one of ten creatives selected for the platform’s Gradwatch 2019 features, Hollie expresses how she questions her ability, much like any rising artist suddenly in the spotlight: “I’ve had such imposter syndrome, wondering why me and whether I’m even good enough for that kind of recognition. But obviously it’s such a big achievement and I’ll be forever grateful to [It’s Nice That]. I doubt I’d be where I am today without that, which is an odd feeling.”
One of the projects Hollie has worked on since graduating is a poster design for Perfectly Fine, a project in Stockholm focusing on solving social and environmental issues. The community encourages people to help make a positive impact on the environment by sharing easy tips, illustrated by independent artists. Hollie’s design encourages people to be aware of their carbon footprint and to say no to single-use plastic. The project proves that illustration has the potential to spark social and political change. Asking for her thoughts, Hollie expresses how “Illustration is all about communicating. We need to communicate in as many ways as we can to reach as many people as possible. I think it’s probably easier to ignore the news than it is to ignore a nice drawing that’s caught your attention.”
Hollie’s nice drawings have certainly caught our attention indefinitely. As she continues to make a name for herself (and Colin), we’ll be keeping our eyes open as wide as her character’s sizeable ears.