Gradwatch 2019: Illustrator Hollie Fuller, Leeds Arts University

Illustrator Hollie Fuller is one of ten creatives we’ve selected to feature in our annual Gradwatch showcase, where we put the spotlight on the art and design grads we feel are producing outstanding creative work

“I’ve loved to draw for as long as I can remember, so it makes sense that I ended up falling into illustration,” says Hollie Fuller. She started out studying fine art and photography at A-Level and delved into a bit of everything while on a foundation course before returning to her main love when she joined the Illustration course at Leeds Arts University.

Fuller’s pastel-hued illustrations have a knack of transforming everyday acts, such as using public transport, into scenes that are full of character, and have so far earned her commissions from the likes of art gallery The Hepworth Wakefield. We talk to her about developing her own style and what her plans are for the future.

Creative Review: How would you describe your style?
Hollie Fuller: I’d describe my style as playful, silly, positive and always rooted in character. I’m not influenced by one creative specifically. I find inspiration in various places, from galleries and museums to really mundane things like people waiting for a bus. I’m a big people watcher so that often feeds into my illustrations.

CR: Tell us a little more about the work you did for your degree show.
HF: For my degree show I made a book called omw! which is a story about a cowboy called Colin, and a journey he takes using various modes of transport. I wanted to take something mundane like public transport and turn it into something positive and silly.

Initially this was a project shining a positive light on public transport, to encourage people to ditch their cars for a greener commute. I also exhibited some wooden figures of characters from the book, including a big Colin. I wanted to make something that was more physical to sit alongside the book and elevate the characters, bringing them to life.

CR: What was the best thing you learned from your time at university?
HF: I really found myself in lots of different ways after I moved to Leeds. I gained a lot of confidence, found some wonderful friends and had loads of fun making work. It really brought me out of my shell and, in gaining more confidence, my work seemed to improve and I fell into my illustration style.

CR: What’s keeping you busy now that you’ve graduated?
HF: I’ve just finished a project for The Hepworth Wakefield which was such a dream. I made five illustrations for their Yorkshire Sculpture International exhibition, demonstrating the ease with which we can enjoy and connect with the sculptures on display. They gave me loads of creative freedom which was amazing. I’ve also made some editorials for a children’s magazine, and I’m working on a couple of other exciting things too.

CR: What would your dream project be?
HF: Any opportunity to draw loads of characters doing things would be perfect. I always enjoy having something to respond to, so working with another museum or gallery would be a dream. I have so many ideas for personal projects that I’d love to do, I just need to find more time for them!