Born into a creative family that fostered a freedom of expression, Holly Schroder uses art to navigate the world around her.
We caught up with the young, Auckland-based painter to find out how she has turned her talent into a full-time gig, and her creative process.
Read on to to find out why Holly Schroder is one to watch…
Miss FQ: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’ve always been immersed in the arts from a young age – my parents had a glass blowing studio and our family friends had an art club where I would go most days after school. I moved up to Auckland to pursue a Bachelor of Visual Art and Post Graduate Diploma in Creative Technology. Over the last couple of years, I have been developing my art practice and working on a variety of projects. I currently practice full time at my home studio in Auckland.
How did you decide on painting as a medium?
I think that painting was the first medium I reached for, and it has definitely shaped my practice. I see painting as not just a medium but an approach to art making – you can ‘paint’ with light, objects, fabrics.
Can you talk us through your creative process?
The making process generally starts with sketching subjects from different environments – people, objects, buildings – things that I find intriguing. I then refine these subjects to contour representations and position them all together on the canvas, using lines to twist, distort and intertwine them. It’s like a collage of stories. Every subject is interacting and relating to the subject next to it. The layering of images and intertwining lines creates an experience of discovering hidden images.
Who are some of your creative inspirations?
Le Corbusier, Cecily Brown, Adela Andea, France-Lise McGurn, Christopher Wool are a few favourites. I try and immerse myself in lots of diverse art and design every day, I am really inspired by architecture and fashion design.
You went to art school in Auckland; do you think living in a city that’s not your hometown influenced your work? If so, how?
Going from a town of 3000 to 1.5million people was a bit of a change. There’s so much diversity in Auckland, and that’s what has inspired my work – we’re living in a place with lots of different people from many different environments, all interacting and relating to each other. Like thousands of stories mixing, merging, colliding and intertwining together simultaneously. I think that my work reflects this in some way.
What challenges have you faced turning your passion into a full-time job?
Sometimes I find it challenging to find the time (and be in the right frame-of-mind) to experiment with new ideas and processes, especially when there are pressures of a big project on. Being playful and experimentation is so important for evolving an art practice forward but can be hard when there are external pressures. So I have been making this a priority to have a more playful approach.
What advice do you have for young creatives?
Immerse your environment with art (or your interest), and set aside time for your practice every day.
What has been your greatest accomplishment or milestone to date?
Emerging Fabrications – this was a large scale light installation displayed at Viaduct Harbour during Artweek Auckland. The installation was made up of floating fabric screens with projected light animations onto them. The combination of movement, light and sound created a really immersive experience. It was the first time I have created a work of that scale and medium, I was lucky enough to have the help of Angus Muir Design and Sammy Saxton-Beer of Viaduct Harbour in bringing the work to life.
Being where you are now, what kind of advice would you give to your younger self?
Read more books. Learn an instrument!
What is your take on the current social media landscape? Do you find it useful for your work?
It can be a great tool for artists and creatives. It’s connected me with lots of really interesting people, projects and collectors. I like that I can share the making process with people too. But I also think that its important to not let it consume or drive the direction of the artwork.
What are you currently reading?
Technology and the Virtues by Shannon Vallor. Interesting perspectives around how technology is reshaping culture and the future.
Do you have a favourite quote or mantra to live by?
What you focus on grows.
What’s your go-to outfit or piece when you are in need of a confidence boost?
I’m really big on textures and how fabrics feel on the skin. I like clothes that are made really well and are comfortable. I feel most confident when my clothes feel like an extension of myself.
Being told no, being rejected or failure, in general, is a hard reality we all face at some stage. How do you deal with things when they don’t turn out as you’d hoped?
My first year post art school was pretty rocky trying to work things out. If situations don’t turn out right, I try not to dwell on it too much, and just move on and trust the process. It’s all a big experiment.
When did you last act fearlessly?
This year. I’ve given myself more freedom to just make lots of new work, follow ideas and see where it takes me. It scares me not having too much of a ‘set plan’ but I am trying to embrace the unknown and be open to opportunities.
You’ve already achieved so much, what’s next for you?
I’m currently learning 3D modelling software because I’m really interested in this as an art-making form. I have a few projects coming up this year like a giant neon sculpture and some interesting commissions. I’m also currently applying for some overseas artist residencies in Shanghai and the US. But other than that it is quite open!
And one last thing, what do you hope for the future?
I think that creativity and design will be an imperative part of the future and the shift towards sustainability. I hope that we can re-create our value systems and let go of old ways of being to create more sustainable systems in our society.
Interview: Ruby Hamilton