10 Questions | Holly Graham

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself! Have you always made art? Did you go to school for fine art or did you have other plans? 


A: I am one of those people who has always wanted to be an artist.  I was constantly drawing as a kid, carrying around colored pencils wherever I went. 


I went on to study Studio Art in college, then worked in museums and other arts institutions for years.  I was never fully satisfied when I wasn't making art, so I decided to start creating again about 12 years ago.  I haven't stopped since. 

Q: We heard that you studied abroad. Tell us a bit about this experience and any other experiences that have shaped your art practice or inspiration.


A: I was lucky enough to study abroad in Venice, which was a dream.  Wake Forest owns a house on the Grand Canal, and it was the most amazing experience.  Living in a foreign country really shaped who I am today.  It made me realize how much I love adventure and travel, and how much I love Art History.  


I still rely on travel and new experiences for inspiration.  Whenever I feel stuck it means I need to leave the studio and wander. Whether that means taking a walk around the block, going to a new exhibition, or planning a trip, it always helps me.


Q: What draws you to work in collage? Has this always been your preferred medium?


A: I have always been drawn to art with a lot of texture - thick paint, torn paper, and sculptural works are my favorites.  I used to create really textured abstract paintings, and I might return to those one day.  But for now, I am enjoying the challenge of expressing myself through collage.  The possibilities are endless, and I love exploring new materials to incorporate into my work.  Finding new ways to make a piece of paper or cardboard look interesting is a challenge, but it's one that I really love. 

Q: Tell us a bit about your process - how do you select your palettes? Why do you use the materials that you use?


A: Color inspiration is everywhere. I have so many photos on my phone of random things for inspiration.  It could be a stack of sweaters from my closet or a pile of leaves on the sidewalk (and yes, I have both of these photos on my phone). When all else fails, I make mini collages out of magazine pages.  These small works help me figure out color palettes, and sometimes I end up with a completely unexpected result. 


I took several printmaking courses in college, and that is when my love of paper was born.  I love the way hot press and cold press papers absorb paint differently, the texture and the weight of paper, and the fact that you can manipulate it by bending, folding and tearing it. I am constantly looking for new materials to create unusual patterns or textures.  The craft store is my gold mine. 

Q: Is there a time of day you find inspiration to flow more freely or do you have set times you plan to paint?


A:  Any time that I can find works for me!  I usually work best during the day because I like to work in natural light, but if I'm crunched for time I will come back to the studio and work at night, too. 


Q: When you are in the studio, do you prefer music, podcasts, silence or something else?


A: It depends on what I'm working on at the moment.  I love to listen to podcasts when I'm doing more production work, like building and glueing a collage, but I have to have music on when I'm in the creative phase of the work. 


Q: What advice would you give an aspiring artist?


A: Be willing to fail often.  Experiment with materials and concepts until you find something that is uniquely you, not a copy of what you've seen before.


Q: Is there something that you want your collectors and admirers to know about you and your process?


A: Some people would say my work looks simple and easy to create, but there is so much work behind every collage.  From hand mixing colors, to creating interest with layers and layers of paint, these pieces are a labor of love.  

Q: What artist’s studio, living or dead, would you love to explore?


A: That is a tough question. There are so many I would want to see - Louise Nevelson, Alexander Calder, and Constantin Brancusi top my list. 

Q: When we asked you to work with Scotty Peek for your current exhibition, what were your first thoughts and how did you collaborate to create this beautiful show?


A: I thought our work would provide a really nice contrast when displayed together. It was a nice surprise to see that we were on such a similar wavelength in terms of color palettes.  While we prepared for the show, we discussed sizes and number of works, but didn't discuss what colors we were using. We didn't realize we were synced in this way until Scotty texted me and mentioned he had been using more warm colors, and I told him I had, too.  Seeing the show hung, it seems like we had been discussing it the whole time. 

You can enjoy and collect Holly's work, including pieces from her show with Scotty Peek,  through his artist page HERE.

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