SAD's Rebecca Peng chatted with illustrator Holly Pilot about her life and practice. Read on for an insightful behind-the-scenes look at Holly's work!
SAD: How are you doing? What's one nice thing that's happened to you recently?
HP: I'm doing well! I just got out of a two month long funk so everything feels nice lately. (:
SAD: Can you walk us through your process of making a collage?
HP: I've been using collage as a way to experiment with different ways of ‘drawing’ for a while now. Currently I'm attracted to the exaggerated and minimal imagery, as well as the vibrancy and textures, of particular children's books. Recently I've been collecting children's books (primarily Disney) from the 70s-90s. The inspiration for using this particular imagery was sparked during an art book assignment at school. I thought it would be interesting to see what kind of work I would create by limiting myself to these materials.
I'll typically just pick something that catches my eye – anything from a hat or set of eyes to a crack in the floor, doorway, or puddle, isolate it, place it on a blank ‘page.’ and see if it inspires any ideas. I'll then begin looking for something that might relate to it in terms of colour, shape, texture, and/or context. This process continues until I have a clearer vision of what I want the piece to say. Lately I've wanted to make more little creatures, so I've been more focused on finding shapes that could be bodily, fun appendages, and sassy limbs.
SAD: Many of your collages involve an element of the surreal. How would you describe the world you're creating?
HP: I like creating things that are contradictory and absurd. By using older Disney/storybook imagery I'm able to utilize the sense of innocence and nostalgia attached to it. Manipulating the simplistic and exaggerated storybook motifs allows me to play with the cultural signifiers in a more complex and abject reality. Bringing the viewer to a place of familiarity while reconfiguring it into something new creates a conflicting emotional response.
SAD: Is there anything specific about collaging that lends itself to your perspective?
HP: We're already living in a world of collage so I feel like it's everyone's perspective, subconsciously or not. From walking down the street and seeing store fronts and signs, opening your phone to the never ending stream of images on social media, pop-ups on your computer, packaging placed next to each other in supermarkets, your wardrobe... it's all a collage! Every object has its own backstory; when two or more objects are placed next to each other their stories intermingle. This is exciting and overwhelming in my mind and I use collage as a way to control how things will belong together while embracing the anxiety at the same time.
SAD: How do you know when a collage is done?
HP: When I am intrigued with the work, aesthetically and atmospherically. I feel like I'm constantly teetering between emotions so if a piece feels ambiguous and contradictory I know it's complete.
SAD: What's next for you?
HP: At the moment my floor is covered in prosthetic noses and elements from stuffed toys I've been cutting up… Not sure what it will lead to.