“Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.” – Oscar Wilde
In this series we shine a light on artists expressing their individuality, documenting what they love, working hard on their craft, and sharing it with the world.
Cole Holyoake is a Wellington based digital illustrator. He's also creatively involved in two tech start-ups and he's "deeply inspired" by influential figures around him.
Cole says his schedule can be chaotic and random — eight hours with a drawing tablet; or a mix of 3D modelling and drawing up user-case scenarios; or deep in code land or lots of research — but he loves it, and balances this irregularity with "my constants and gap-filling daily rituals".
Every morning he sits back in his Eames chair, drinks apple juice and practises Spanish. "I walk to and from the studio, rain or shine, to force myself away from mahi [work]. On a Wednesday you’ll find me in my favourite restaurant for lunch, where merely a ’sup nod confirms I’m ordering the ‘usual’. I could go on and on but the point is that these small, mindless things support me as a creative."
Cole loves participating in a community from behind the scenes, and art allows him to do that.
"In saying that, something else rewarding about being an artist is that those you do build a connection and mutual respect with, become major supporting fabrics of your life. 'When one door closes, another one opens'…or something like that. In my experience, the art world continually presents open doors at the right place at the right time. Sure, my work has something to do with it but it is part of something bigger."
Adaptation has to be one of Cole's greatest learnings as an artist. He's found that things that presented themselves as roadblocks or curveballs at the time are also opportunities to explore and grow your creativity.
For example, toward the end of college, an acute pain in his drawing hand hatched a new era for him as an artist. "I began to play with my creativity in digital formats, adding new ideas and modalities to my creative toolkit. In my early 20s I found myself colliding with the tech world. Tech was exciting, and I again launched my creativity into that space, which is how I’ve found myself spending time in the UI/UX space with web, app and interactive display."
"Being able to adjust has allowed me to evolve/develop as an artist. While I am an illustrator at heart, I do believe that these experiences have made me a better artist.
Cole's top five pieces of advice for creatives are:
- Trust yourself; you are the creative. Enough said.
- Continue to grow and be willing to blossom. The key part of that statement is “be willing”. I think there’s a certain amount of choice that goes into growth because it involves vulnerability. Stretching yourself as a creative means taking a risk (usually at the expense of your ego). I believe that’s a choice.
- Do the stuff you love to do. So many creatives spend time working on projects that don’t excite them (I too am guilty as charged). There’s no shame in it and it’s part of the process, but balance it out with working on projects you love - even if it’s a personal project that doesn’t pay. It keeps the spark alive.
- Be curious. Keep exploring. I’ve unlocked new aspects of my creativity through research. If I see something I like, or hear about something on a podcast. I take note and get nosy.
- Share and make yourself open to feedback. This sort of ties in with #2.