Interview: Holly Leonardson
Holly Leonardson is a designer and jewellery maker. I was lucky enough to interview Holly about her collage designs and what she is currently up to with her work.
Hello! Thank you so much for letting me interview you. How are you?
Oh, you’re most welcome, thanks for having me! I’m feeling great.
How did you manage to learn and hone your craft?
A few years of university (I’m a Bachelor of Contemporary Art graduate) coupled with plenty of self-taught skills and experimentation, a few stints of interning with other artists’/jewellers makers and a couple of workshops/short courses has taught me a lot, yet I am still always learning new things!
Have you always been into illustration, collage and design?
Initially as a young teenager my main interests were drawing and sewing but that changed once I landed my first job at the local bead store, which was my introduction to making handmade jewellery. I began collaging in 2011, and still continue to make jewellery today.
If there were no resource restraints, what would be your dream project?
I’d love to collaborate with other creatives whose work I admire, perhaps starting with some large installations, a clothing collection and furniture.
What equipment do you use for your work?
Scissors, glue, paper and old books are my primary materials for collage. I love working with different materials and will also use acrylic paint, markers, pencils, gel pens, stickers, my scanner and computer.
What tools or materials could you not live without?
My favourite tiny scissors!
Why has social media been an important platform for you to use?
Social media is a great tool to use to share your work with a global audience, and for finding like-minded people in the creative community. I live outside of a big city, so it is a great way to stay connected to everything else going on and discover small galleries and ARIs to visit when travelling interstate.
Who inspires your work?
All my creative friends who are working hard to achieve really big, fun and exciting projects inspire me. I am also a fan of Mike Kelley’s work and Lisa Walker.
Do you have any favourite pieces of work that you adore at the moment?
Not necessarily, however I am still proud of getting out of my comfort zone and experimenting with collage using digitally printed textiles, found fabric and beads to make a series of small quilts for an exhibition last year.
What do we hope to see in this up and coming year for your Instagram and your work?
I’d like to work with a photographer to help me document my larger finished works so that I can share them with my Instagram audience. Smart-phone photos don’t really capture the details and colours as accurately as I’d prefer. This year I would like to make much bigger work, which is a huge challenge for me as I am very detail focused and I work out of a very modestly sized studio – but I am looking forward to it!
What are you currently working on?
I just finished making a small series of greeting cards, and am now working on a functional, queen bed-sized quilt for an exhibition coming up in mid-March. The second instalment of my zine ‘Weird Craft’ is also in progress, which I hope to complete in the next few days.
What’s your typical working day?
I currently work full-time, so my days start quite early (I get up at 5am), but it leaves me with most of the afternoon free to create, plan projects and catch up on admin tasks.
What’s been the biggest struggle in getting your business off the ground?
Time and financial resources, which I am sure is the case for many artists. I don’t mind working a day job though, as it is nice to be productive in other ways while giving my creative mind a break.
Do you have any exciting plans for this year?
This year I am looking forward to running some workshops and participating in more group exhibitions. I hope to make it overseas to Japan or Europe so I can be immersed in a completely different environment, and collect some fun new materials to work with.
Do you have any advice for anyone doing craft fairs?
Be as prepared as you possibly can, well in advance. Drink a lot of water, bring a buddy to help you, make sure you have lots of snacks on hand. Craft fairs and design markets can be exhausting at the end of the day but they are also a lot of fun!
What advice would you give to people looking to define their own style?
Create what genuinely makes you happy and don’t follow trends. Experiment with materials, develop curiosity and read about other artist’s work (don’t just look at the end result). See what working methods feel natural, and if you continue to be excited about it, it’s probably a good fit!
Do you have any advice for anyone who would like to do collage?
All you need are scissors, a glue stick and some old books, magazines or coloured paper and you are ready to go! Collage is especially great for people who feel they can’t make art because the results are so immediate and that can be really satisfying.
Soon I hope to apply for some arts residencies, but the trickiest part is deciding which ones. I’d also like to work towards a big body of work for a solo show next year.
What's the best piece of creative advice you've ever been given?
Make first, think later.