Interview with Jeremy Holmes

10922557_10152972095165446_2225736333164279858_nOnce again, we have the Twittersphere to thank for stumbling across the spectacular work of Jeremy Holmes and moreover, the intricately illustrated Poem-Mobiles. Yet another exsquisite book published by Schwartz & Wade.

Join us as we probe a little further into the weird and wonderful (and highly caffeinated) life of Jeremy Holmes.

PBB: Why picture book illustration?

JH: With picture books, the theory of relativity need not apply. The laws of existence lie literally in the artist’s mind and hands. Nothing (yet) has demanded or intrigued my imagination more.

PBB: Your style is beautifully distinctive, what process do you follow?

JH: Each story deserves it’s own unique visual approach. The style should not only capture, but elevate the narrative. I believe this is what gives my work a distinctive quality. I don’t apply my style to a script, instead I design a world and it’s contents specifically for it. Of course my visual sensitivities run through all my work, but if done right, I hope the work feels natural to the story and not necessarily obvious it came from my hand.

PBB: There was an old lady’ is a masterpiece, how long did that take to execute from beginning to end?

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JH: The “Old Lady” was created while attending grad school at Tyler School of Art. We had 3 months to transform a classic nursery rhyme into a picture book. I chose the classic folk song “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.” Having been introduced to the work of Robert Sabuda, Mathew Reinhart, and Lothar Meggendorfer, I knew I wanted to incorporate a mechanical/kinetic quality to the book, a decision that didn’t matter in grad school, but was a huge blockade when it came to getting a publisher interested in creating “Her.” After shopping the book around for 4 years, luckily, in 2009 Chronicle Books decided to bring “Her” to life.

PBB: Most illustrators have one thing they don’t like to draw, what’s your nemesis?

JH: Like the infamous Maurice Sendak, I hate drawing horses. A horse is a horse, of course, of course, unless you need me to draw that horse. (Note to publishers: I can draw horses, but I’d rather draw menacing monsters or adorable woodland animals.)

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PBB: Which has been your favourite book to illustrate so far?

JH: My favorite medium is pencil, so I’d have to say Poem-mobiles, by J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian. This book was a return to my roots. It’s the first book I’ve created using the pencil drawings as part of the final illustration. Prior to this book, most of my work was mainly digital.

PBB: Whose work do you admire?  

JH: The story telling of Mac Barnett, Jon Scieszka, Dr. Seuss, Ruth Krauss, Roald Dahland Maurice Sendak. The illustrations of Lane Smith, Oliver Jeffers, Jon Klassen, Greg Pizzoli, Matt Phelan, Shaun Tan, Mark Hearld, Brian Wildsmith, Charles Santoso, Molly Idle, Isabelle Arsenault, Carson Ellis, Mary Blair, Nico Marlet, Aubrey Beardsley and Edward Gorey. The paper work of Robert Sabuda, Mathew Reinhart, Lothar Meggendorfer, Sue Blackwell and Elsa Mora.

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PBB: Finally, what snack gets you through the long hours?

JH: Coffee that’s creamed and sugared and anything chocolate.

Huge thanks to Jeremy for taking time out of his jam packed schedule to answer our questions and please someone, get this book over to the UK, pronto!

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