Leeds / York
‘Jake Hollings is an illustrator & printmaker based in the North of England. He has created work for editorial, pattern design, music packaging and live mural installations. In his spare time he makes self-published zines & limited edition screen prints both solo and collaboratively.’
How has your visual language developed over time?
I used to work really lo fi back in art college – playing around with photography, dark room process, lino and screen printing. I created work far away from the commercial illustration world really. I was oblivious to it to be honest. Then I studied Illustration and began to develop my drawing style along with an appreciation of contemporary artists / designers. This work was graphic, and much more refined than what I was previously used to – but I knew I liked it.
What importance do sketchbooks have in your practice?
Huge importance. I’m constantly in and out of my sketchbooks and tend to have 2 on the go at once. I travel a lot, spending a significant amount of time on trains. So I listen to music and draw. I’ll either be sketching out ideas for current projects & collaborations, or general observations from the places around me. Mostly though, I’ll record textures, shapes and compositions that excite me at that moment, whether that means anything to anybody else or not. I later use all of this spontaneous drawing to inform my practise. I like to scan directly from my sketchbooks if I find an interesting mark or drawing and transfer that into a commercial setting. I find the best work comes from quick commutes, where there is little time to be precious or overthink anything.
How does your print practice affect/influence your approach to illustration?
I tend to use the ideas of print as a basis for my illustrations / style in general. The way that colours work together, overlapping and blending to form new colour ways. I’ve found this to be one of the hardest skills to master during my career so far, but coming from a print background has been hugely beneficial to my development in this. I work on Photoshop to create my digital illustrations, but usually as a tool to piece traditional media together, a process that has been described as Digital Collage. For this I collate drawings, textures and found imagery and later cut, paste and blend using Photoshop to construct an image. I use a lightbox too – like you would if you were creating layers for a print. This way I can build an image colour by colour, thinking carefully about how they sit and interact with each other.
What qualities does your analogue work have that your digital pieces don’t?
Despite trying my best to give my digital work an analogue aesthetic, it never quite competes with the real thing. There’s something special about analogue print that frankly can’t be imitated - The way the ink can misregister and that textured finish against the grain of the paper. But it’s also in the process that makes it. Being hands on with each step of the practise, putting in hours of work to achieve a single image whilst relying solely on that end product being a success is extremely satisfying, especially when the outcome you achieve surpasses your expectations. I think that’s the beauty of printmaking and its why we all love it.