Meet Josh Holinaty, an Edmonton-based editorial illustrator, graphic designer and all around talented guy. His affinity for the “silly, gross, drippy, grungey and clean” is exactly what sets him apart and why we so admire his work. Holinaty’s illustrations have appeared everywhere, from the Globe & Mail to WIRED, Transworld Snow to Runner’s World, all the while crossing boundaries with his unique illustrative style. So get up-close and personal with this creative dynamo in our March designer highlight.
1. Where did you spend your childhood? And do you think that may have influenced your creativity?
I grew up in Grande Prairie, AB, pre-internet style. Because you’re somewhat isolated from the world living in Grande Prairie, creativity was something that I mostly discovered on my own through fun times hanging out drawing funnies with my friends, watching television shows such as Rocko’s Modern Life or Ren & Stimpy, and playing a good share of video games.
I think the grungey-grotesqueness of my drawings is a direct result of Grande Prairie itself. It’s a muddy, dusty, windy city. But now that I think of it, so is Edmonton at times. I’m in a permanent state of Grande Prairie.
2. Any tell tale signs as a child that you were going to be a designer?
I received my first business card commission from my uncle Claude when I was in fifth grade for his company Flying Frog Welding. Maybe my best work – it all went down from there. I was always drawing before then, but it was at that young age that I discovered that drawing (and later designing) can actually be a service that you can provide to people, and sometimes you can even make a buck off of it. I thought that was neat!
3. When did you realize that you wanted to pursue a career in illustration and design? What was your catalyst?
It sort of happened by happenstance. I was in my last term at the Alberta College of Art & Design, about to get my degree in Fine Arts, looking ahead to making, I don’t know, big drawings or paintings. Two of my school pals moved on to be art directors at Transworld Snowboarding magazine at the same time and they quickly asked me to whip up some drawings for the magazine. This went on for about three volumes. Being from the Fine Art side of things at school, I never really even considered pursuing the commercial illustration thing at the time
Time went on and I just found myself getting more and more work, mostly due to the fact that Genevieve had pushed me promote myself more to clients that I’d like to work with.
4. Why do you think your work speaks to so many different types of people? From clients like Transworld to Cottage Life to Runner’s World its seems as though your unique style your style seems to cross the gamut.
Long answer: That’s something I’ve wondered, too. Making illustrations at Transworld Snowboarding I thought I’d be pigeon-holing myself to a 14 year old skater boi club, but drawings constantly evolve. My drawing process became more minimal in style as time went on, and at the same time I think it became a bit more endearing / suitable for safer crowds. As a result of that, I’ve developed a bit of a range of styles I can sort of pull off, depending on the job request.
Short answer: I’m not really sure, but I think it’s funny doing safe illustrations of families eating dinner together (which I’ve done about four of now).
5. What has been your top three projects to date?
1. Transition mural on 100 Ave and 105 Street here in Edmonton with Luke Ramsey and ESPA.
2. Painfully slowly working on We Hate This Place Here; It’s Our Home with David Berry. It’s been, like, 3 years of trying to finish that thing.
3. Drumming in my band Camembert. It’s a nice having multiple outlets.
6. In a few words, how would you describe your creative process?
Quick and dirty. Flat colours. Black and white.
7. What initially drew you to the style you’ve developed today? How has it grown and progressed?
I’ve always been into drawing gross, wobbly, sweaty things. My drawing hasn’t grown so much as shrunk lately, I feel. I really get a kick of drawing the least amount to illustrate an idea lately. I find quick, simply drawn illustrations are usually the funnest and funniest. Linework and brushstroke charm can really increases with speed.
Design wise, I’m sort of the opposite lately. I want to see something nice and simple, almost sterile, where the content does the speaking. Yeah, the old less is more.
8. We are highlighting Canadian creatives (from designers to photographers to illustrators to writers). Who do you think we should interview next?
Of course, my partner Genevieve Simms. I always think I suck compared to her.
One of my favourite illustrators / visual creators in all of Canada is Patrick Kyle based out of Toronto. Talk about gross and simple and hilarious. So good.
One of my favourite writers: Matt Prins. He’s been making instant books for years and they are visceral, hilarious, sad and every other emotion all at once.
- Photos courtesy of Josh Holinaty