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Josh J. Holinaty artist


Canadian illustrator Josh J. Holinaty has carved out a niche for himself with a uniquely bizarre style of cartooning. Holinaty’s illustrative talents have landed his work in the pages of Transworld Skateboarding and Snowboarding, Color Magazine and The Globe and Mail, just to name a few. Recently a new collaborative project and some exciting personal work have been keeping things fresh in the midst of an ever-expanding client list.

You just released a graphic novel, We Hate This Place Here; It’s Our Home: Chapter One. Tell me a little bit about that project. How did it come about?

I’ve worked with writer David Berry quite a few times before we started up on the graphic novel. As the arts editor at Vue Weekly arts and entertainment mag in Edmonton, Berry had already commissioned a nice handful of jobs my way. This project started when we were working on a series for the Best of Edmonton issue. I made an illustration depicting bisons at the city’s ‘Best Hipster Hangout’, the Royal Bison Craft and Art Fair. We felt it really nailed a certain je ne sais quoi about what it’s like to exist in Alberta. Berry had a script he had been working on for a while and seeing that bison character made it all click.

So Chapter One was just released, and it feels pretty good to get something like that accomplished. But we’re not done yet. There will be a total of six chapters, each being roughly 35 pages or so. So sadly, I’m only about 16 per cent done or something. We plan on shopping it around to a few publishers here in Canada.

You can expect to see Chapter Two sometime in March 2010 and issues every two to two-and-a-half months thereafter.

Your recent personal work seems to have a much-different style to the graphic novel and to your commercial portfolio. Is that a conscious effort to separate the two?

I guess you can say it’s a partially conscious effort; if I’m trying to make myself sellable in the illustration market, having the ability to consistently pull off a certain look is important. It seems that I’ve honed in on some sort of grotesque cartooning thing that seems to work and that I’m happy with. That’s not to say that I won’t evolve or change, or that I’ll find commercial work that demands a totally different aesthetic.

It’s important to make sure that I try to get all that other stuff out in my personal work and not to get caught up in one style. If I get an illustration gig that’s very open, like a music poster for example, I usually treat that more like a personal project. With no restrictions, specific stories, or articles laid out for me I usually just go wild and make something extra strange.

In exploring different styles, how important is your sketchbook to the finished product?

Sketchbooks are blood root. I can’t emphasize how important it is, regardless of profession, to keep up a reliable idea machine. There are no rules in a sketchbook, so experiment your face off and figure it out. Churn out drawing after drawing and get all your ideas out and onto paper. I once heard that you have to pump out some 100,000 drawings before you do a good one. I’m still doing it myself.

, 15 December 2009