Showcase: Holly V Maslen


Showcase: Holly V Maslen

Full time artist Artist & Designer Holly Maslen talks to me about her work, Project Haiku and what inspires her.

Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself. Who you are and what do you do?

A: I’m a full time artist living and working on the Isle of Wight. I’ve lived here for fifteen years but grew up in South London. I work exclusively in black and white and my work has a Scandi/Japenese aesthetic. I’ve got two sons who are 17 and 18 and, having just turned 40, I feel a new chapter in my life is about to start now that I am less tied to the routine of bringing up children.


Q: What are you currently working on?

A: I’ve just started a year long challenge called Project Haiku, where I will be writing and illustrating a haiku (14 x 14cm) every day for the whole of 2015. Each haiku is for sale for £10 and £2 from each sale goes to Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. I’m very keen on using my work to help raise money for conservation and wildlife.


Q: What is your typical daily work routine?

A: My routine changed quite dramatically last year…through no design of my own. I’ve never been a particularly early riser but last summer I kept waking up at 5h30/6am and surprised myself by feeling totally awake and ready to leap out of bed. So I went with this new found urge and now I seem to have settled into that natural rhythm. If I get up late I realise the day just isn’t long enough to do all the things I want! In the summer I would have a quick cup of tea, go out for a cycle, come back, have coffee and start work. In the winter it’s been much the same, apart from the cycling bit. I tend to walk in the winter and do this in the afternoon after a good five or six hours working. Afternoons are usually for cooking, catching up with jobs and, if I have the energy, then I start work again around 8pm.


Q: What do you do in your spare time?

A: I love cooking (and used to run a little pop up French restaurant in my garden). I also enjoy cycling, reading, drinking tea, making fires, listening to loud music, dancing and parties…I love a good party!


Q: What triggers your creative spark and how do you see it through?

A: All sorts of things trigger the creative spark, I think it’s always there, the world as I see it is just one big spark but it’s finding the time to explore all the things I want to explore and express them in an artistic way. People inspire me, having conversations, finding out how people think and feel. Looking out to sea inspires me, sitting in the garden at 5am watching the sun come up or driving at night looking at the stars. I do a lot of thinking whilst I’m driving as it’s the only place I feel truly undisturbed. If I have an idea I scribble it down somewhere but most of the time it’s not practical to start every project I think of, so I leave these scribbled notes all over the place and when the moment comes I resurrect the idea and work on it. There is never a time when I don’t know what to do creatively, there’s always too much to do so I just work through as much as I possibly can.


Q: What tools and mediums do you use?

A: All my work is done with a Papermate Flair, unless I’m painting a mural, in which case I’d use acrylic paint or masonry paint.


Q: What one piece of work best represents you?

A: Probably my books, Escargot Masquerade and Other Stories and Miyoko, because they illustrate how I view the world through the stories and they also contain my art work.


Q: Who and/or what inspires you?

A: Well as I’ve already gabbled on about, the World in general inspires me. As for who….I’d have to say that Kusama is a particularly inspirational individual. I saw her work at Tate Modern about three years ago, and I didn’t want to leave! I’m impressed by the sheer volume of work that she has produced and the fact that her output has been consistent.


Q: What has been your most enjoyable piece of work to date?

A: I would have to say that painting a series of murals at the Isle of Wight Zoo was a great job for a variety of reasons. The location is fabulous, right on the seafront, so I would get down there early and listen to the sea and the roar of the lions whilst painting in the sunshine. I also really enjoyed working on such a large scale, the murals are about 8ft high by 9ft wide. It’s very useful for me to have what is, in effect, a large outdoor gallery of my work because when people on the Island ask what kind of work I do I just ask them if they’ve seen the murals, which most people have as you can’t miss them as you drive past. It’s like having a giant, static portfolio.

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Q: What/who would be your ultimate client or dream job?

A: I would love to design an album cover for Led Zep or Pink Floyd…but I’m sure that’s never going to happen. I’d love to design an album cover full stop. So if there are any musicians out there reading this then drop me a line!


Q: If there is one piece of advice you could give to aspiring creatives what would it be?

A: I would say that if you can ditch the day job and manage on a small income it’s worth it because then you can focus fully on the creative experience. You have to be disciplined, work very hard and be prepared for uncertainty, but it is the uncertainty which keeps the creativity going. If you have nothing to fall back on then you have to make your art work for you, it’s what keeps you driven to succeed!