First the basic introduction – can you tell us who are you, what are you doing, where are you coming from?
Hello! My name is Hollie Chastain and I am a collage artist and illustrator living in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Why collages? How you started to do them? What was the first thing that sparked the desire to try it out?
When I returned to studio work after I left my job in graphic design I wanted to work with a medium that I had not previously experimented with. I have always been a collector of found and vintage paper and ephemera so collage was a natural choice.
Your usage of only vintage collage materials mixed with simple shapes and forms and certain color palette makes your works very recognizable – how you quickly you found your ”style”?
The natural aging, water spots, and scribbles found on the vintage paper materials that I use is very inspiring to me. It adds so much texture and natural interest and can guide a composition and suggest subject matter. This combined with my experience in design led to my current style. My color palette was originally guided by popular colors in the older materials I used and has changed and branched out from there.
Do you work on multiple pieces at the same time or simply focus on one?
Typically I will work on a small series at the same time so it feels like one piece split into 8 parts. I’ll work on multiple pieces in that capacity but when working on a larger more involved piece I usually don’t move on until it’s finished. Since I use salvaged paper that I can’t rush out and replace I will finish a piece to make sure I don’t loose track or run out of the palette of papers I have chosen to build the work.
What’s the best part of the collaging process?
I love the versatility of the medium and the ability to build a semi permanent composition and consider for a bit and rearrange before I commit and glue everything down. Also the joy of finding 2 elements from completely different sources that pair beautifully is a thrill like a treasure hunt.
And then, what’s the hardest part?
The hardest part of collage for me is also the hardest part of most things I do. Overthinking. One of the things that I love about collage, the ability to arrange and rearrange a piece before committing and glueing it down, also can be the worst when you start doubting and overthinking a piece. It’s easy tpo get caught in a trap of rearranging and starting over every day.
What’s your favourite work? And why? What makes it stand out?
It’s very hard to choose and it changes from year to year. Right now one of my favorites is a piece that I made for a show in Nashville that opened in November. The piece is called “Dawn Launch” and it was the first piece I made that pushed more into the 3rd dimension than I have before. I used the entire torn away bottom half of a book to illustrate a sea thick with waves and added in some brave ships. I then made a small series of these works framed in a deep frame much like a shadowbox and can’t wait to experiment with this more.
Your client list is pretty impressive and you have done so many cool things during your career, showcased art in various group and solo art shows, been featured in art books and now releasing own book just to name few things… So what’s next? What drives you forward?
I am moving into more illustration work and would love to do another book! Once I wrapped my head around the process I absolutely enjoyed it and hope to work on a children’s book at some point. As far as studio work I am working on some larger pieces which is a challenging and fun process as the materials that I use are fairly small. Challenges drive me forward, for sure.
What influences you as an artist? And how things influence you?
There are many things that I find influential! A few at the top of the list are music, the works of outsider artists like Henry Darger and Adolf Wölfli.
If you should describe your art with one word, what would it be?
Hollie Chastain around the internet: