Conversations with an Artist: Melissa Holden

Melissa Holden art_Block Prints_Poet and the Bench

We love the graphic prints and illustrations that Melissa creates. Each collection offers something different. Shape, texture and form. A little bit of whimsy. Easily sophisticated or brighten up a kid's room. Her technique is special and these prints are sure to find a happy place in your home.

8 Questions

Describe the moment you realized art fed your soul.
I think the first time I realized that I had a real need to create is when I was in 5th grade. I started covering all my notebooks with black and white intricate designs using a ball point pen. Drawing was how I listened best to what the teacher was saying and I really couldn't stop doing it. I was aware of my creative needs and the drawing made me feel full and productive.  

Melissa Holden_Cat Ride
Cat Ride

What themes do you pursue in your art?
In my abstract block prints I like to expose a tension within a harmonious whole. I really like the theme of interactions in general: the interactions of shapes, colors, space, and lines and how they can evoke a feeling. I also like how people interact with each other or with objects. In all my work whether abstract or representational I like to create a sense of intrigue, mystery, or whimsy through interactions.

Tell us about what influences the direction for the print making that you create.
I find inspiration everywhere. I see shapes I like or color combinations that I find interesting, it's usually a gut reaction to just liking something I see. I usually play with these findings in my head before I sketch them out and I often alter them. The shapes, lines, patterns, colors, and space that I see are what I use to create the harmony and counter point in my designs. I usually encounter the best material when I'm not looking for it.

I realize more and more what type of imagery moves me and what I like creating. I tend to be drawn to minimal and graphic imagery. I love interesting color combinations and high contrast. I love the beauty of simplicity because in order for it to work, everything has to be just so, kind of like cooking simple food or writing a poem.

How has your work developed over time?
My work has definitely evolved. I had taken a break from making things to raise my twins. When I started printmaking again, my work was flatter and the shapes I used were all very geometric. After doing more and more I started layering more, working with organic shapes in conjunction with the geometric shapes. For my rare forms series, which is the most recent, I approached each print like a sculptor carving out the form with color in a 2 dimensional format.

What’s the most indispensable item in your studio?
There are so many of them. Aside from basic tools to make prints, my sketchbook is essential. It's where ideas are born, honed, and reworked. It's where much of the problem solving and decisions are made. Once I start making the work come alive I stay flexible in what it can become, but without my sketchbook and a pencil it would be a lot harder to begin.  

Do you collect anything?
I collect art books. I think that's my only truly developed collection that continues to grow and that I have been building for many years. Some of my favorites are books on David Hockney, Sally Mann, Hokusai, and Maurice Sendak.

What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve seen, read, watched or listened to recently?
I recently started following Dan Bejar (Bejar Prints) on Instagram. I think his illustrations are so smart and beautiful. I love his colors and his choice of imagery to convey ideas.

What advice would you give to your younger self about your artistic journey?
I think I would tell my younger self now to put my artwork out into the world and to dream big around what my art can become.

Melissa Holden_Ode to Noodles
Ode to Noodles

Melissa Holden Block Print_Conversations #2
Conversation # 2

Melissa Holden Art Little Fold #2
Little Fold #2

Melissa Holden art Little Fold #4
Little Fold #4

Melissa Holden art_Against the Grain_green
Against the Grain (green)

We carry a collection of Melissa Holden's illustrations and block prints at Poet and/the Bench. Most are unframed, while a few come framed. Come see them for yourself and if you’d like more information, please do get in touch, or 415–569–4383.

Until next time,

Bonnie & Jeffrey

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