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Hanging out with Josh Holinaty

After months of hush-hush planning, our zipped lips are finally unsealed. We partnered with Booooooom to bring you the work of four great Canadian artists.

Next week, we’re coming out with another exciting collaboration. [Hint: It's a first for Poketo, so keep your eyes peeled for it!] But, while we’re plotting here at the studio, we also found time to catch up with the one of four featured artists.

Say hello to Josh Holinaty, everyone! Josh is an Edmonton-based visual artist and freelance illustrator. He’s done tons of work for a magazines and bands. You might have seen his stuff at Globe & Mail, WIRED or Transworld Snowboarding. On top of that, he plays drums on rock band Camembert. Let’s get a peek inside Josh’s brain for a few minutes:

How did you get into illustration?
In a way, it sort of ‘just happened’. Shortly after graduating from the Alberta College of Art & Design in Calgary in 2007, two of my classmates, Dustin Koop and John Antoski, moved on to be Art Directors at Transworld Snowboarding. Seeing and digging my stuff in school, they started asking me to whip up some illustrations for a few volumes of the magazine. At the same time Genevieve (my wife) and I had met, and her having been doing the illustration thing for a year, she started giving me pointers – mostly on the promotional side of things. Fast forward a bit of time, I’d established my client list as was starting to get a few regular gigs.

What was the first illustration that you did?
Technically, it would have been in 1995 for my uncle’s welding business, Flying Frog Welding; a silly drawing of a frog with wings, flying with a welding rod in hand and welder’s mask on his head. My uncle showed me this drawing last year – I sort of forgot about it – and it’s pretty raw stuff.

On a more serious note, my first ‘commercial illustration’ would have been the creative that I made for the Calgary Underground Film Fest during my last year of college. I designed a run of three different posters, as well as T-Shirts, in a wonky R. Crumb style. I don’t seem to have any documentation of either, sadly.

You work with a lot of artists, bands and magazines as an illustrator. What type of work is your favorite?
My favourite gigs to take on are definitely those that are collaborations with bands, mostly because it’s usually it’s poster work. Posters are the most fulfilling jobs to create because meaning is not necessary to the final product. It really just comes down to is making an image that is weird and fun to look to catch somebody’s eyes on the street, whereas editorial work which is usually more about getting a specific point across, or to emphasize a point in an article. Still – editorial work is a blast.

You work so many things and deal with a lot of topics, what do you think ties all of your work together?
The best pieces of art that I’ve experienced, be it visual, music, film etc., is that they always have an undercurrent of darkness and humour beneath them. And with an added sprinkling of general weirdness, you usually can’t go wrong. All of that put together is what I think ties most of my work together.

My personal work is usually generally silly and weird. So yeah, three things: humour, darkness, weirdness. Too simple?

Not all all.

In my personal work, I’m really focusing in on landscapes lately. Broken landscapes. Imaginary landscapes. Not sure what that means, but I don’t think anyone ever needs to know what or why they make anything anyway. And if you don’t know why you make it, it becomes that much more open to interpretation to the viewer. Just make, I say!

Where do you get your inspiration for illustrations?
I’m actually terrible when it comes to looking at other illustration for inspiration. I don’t really hunt it out. I’d say my scope is actually pretty small. Most of my inspiration to make stuff comes mostly from either video games or music, taking walks or bike rides, hanging out with pals. Not directly feeding from anything but generally just chilling out and having a good time enjoying something can put your brain into a state of creative inspiration.

Could you tell us a little bit about Poketo x Booooooom wallet design?
I’ve always looked at textiles, clothing and fashion accessories as decorative objects, that when added to your ‘costume’ contributes to whatever story you’re trying to tell with your overall look. So I guess you could basically say my wallet design is nothing more than just that. Just something open to interpretation that hopefully looks cool enough that you’d want to own it. Are they worms? Are they veins? Where are they? Hell if I know! Like a music poster, just something weird and fun to look at, open to interpretation.

Other than being an illustrator, what else occupies your time?
A few things. I drum in a rock band known as Camembert. Sort of a 90′s alt rock revival sort of thing. I also help to organize Edmonton’s biannual indie art and craft fair, the Royal Bison. After that, I put in hours at the Art Gallery of Alberta here in Edmonton as Digital Media Coordinator, working on their website, handling their social media, marketing stuff, as well as some in house design at times. Finally, when there’s no snow here in Edmonton, Genevieve and I like to grow some things in the garden in our backyard. Stuff like that. Grandpa stuff.

How do you see your work changing or evolving over time?
I want to make some giant paintings again, like in my school days. Sad thing is it’s hard to find nice studio space here in Edmonton – but it looks like a few things could be opening up this year. How I’d love to get a nice big room with some big canvases again.

That would be great! We hope you find a nice, roomy studio for your future paintings!

Check out Josh’s Poketo x Booooooom wallet at
More from Josh Holinaty at
More of here.

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