Despite having not yet graduated, illustrator Hollie Fuller has a distinctive, playful style which caught our attention for all its endearing charm. Characters, although part of different scenes, very much inhabit the same world and share one thing in common: their protruding ears.
“I love drawing characters,” she tells It’s Nice That. “I’d say that’s the main element of my practice and everything else follows on from or fits around that.” Currently, in her final year of the Illustration BA at Leeds Arts University, Hollie’s characters are based on observations in her day-to-day life. “I’ve always been a people watcher,” she adds. “I’m inspired by people and things, and people doing things.”
Her characters, who as well as extended ears sport tiny eyes and large hands, form the backbone of her practice. “I like to work on projects that allow me to be playful and push what I can do with those characters,” she says. In a recent series, the illustrator turned her usually static works into a series of moving gifs, injecting a new level of humour and dynamism into her portfolio.
The project currently pulling her focus is for her degree show. Initially attempting to illustrate ways to reduce our carbon footprint in an accessible way, the project is now centred around one character, a cowboy, and his journey on public transport. Focusing on the positive impact of using such modes of travel in order to encourage others to do so, Hollie chose the cowboy as he lends himself to playful ideas and humour. “I get a lot of joy from imagining him doing really mundane things, like having a shower or getting the Tube. I’m working towards making a small publication about the cowboy’s journey and I’m really excited about it!”
Taking the mundane and twisting it – this forms a large part of Hollie’s practice, and is why she gravitates towards illustration. The medium gives her the chance “to create something that wasn’t there before, inspired by real things but interpreted in a more playful way”. “If you make something real, or something that’s believable in some way or another, then you can make a connection with people. Nothing makes me happier than seeing somebody laugh at a silly drawing I’ve done.”
When it comes to her style and how she’s developed such a signature look so early on in her career, she explains: “I spent such a long time, even up until quite recently, overworking my illustrations and I realised that it wasn’t necessary to do that. Spending all that extra time didn’t add anything to the image, it just detracted from it. So my characters are often quite simple.” It’s a revelation that has clearly paid off. We’re keeping our eyes peeled for what the soon-to-be-graduated illustrator will make next.
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