We had the good fortune of connecting with Jill Holland and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jill, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I was that kid. You know, the one whose favorite subjects in school are art and P.E. I was a smart kid and did fine in all of the other subjects, math, science, english, etc… . But, if I’m being honest, I only did them because they were required and went through my day anxiously awaiting the “fun” classes. In those classes the time seemed to fly by and, especially in art, I’d easily get lost in whatever assignment was in front of me. Even now, I have to set an alarm on my phone when I am working so I don’t forget to go pick my kids up from school.
In junior high and high school, I never would have dreamed that I could have a career as a professional artist. The main dialogue I heard growing up was more about the starving artist and the struggle artists face to really make it. In reality, I had no idea that there are a plethora of amazing successful artists out there that have more work than they can handle. I had no idea that in my twenties, I would start the journey to become one of those successful artists myself.
No matter what I did or what job I had, art was always a part of my life. I started out doing it just for fun and just because it was something I truly enjoyed doing. I would paint paintings for friends and give them away as wedding gifts and things of that nature. I sold an occasional piece here and there but again, never dreamed that I could make a six-figure living by doing the thing I loved the most!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
“With each day that passes, I realize more and more that art is woven into the fiber of my being. Light elates me, color anchors me and creating completes me. In scripture it says, “Your eyes are the windows to your soul.” I take great joy in seeing creation, finding the beautiful in the simple, studying the form of an object and noticing how colors, shapes and light interact with each other to form art all around us and then translating that onto canvas.”
Jill Holland is a professional full-time working artist, wife and mother of two. Her art career really took off in the small Texas Hill Country town of Fredericksburg, Texas where she lived for 14 years and established herself as a pillar in the art community. After having her own gallery, she was the founder of multiple successful art initiatives locally including The Yellow Door Studio, First Friday Art Walk Fredericksburg and The Fredericksburg Art Guide. She is also the founder and CEO of Atlas & Arrow which is a non-profit, philanthropic organization that raises money for ministries and missions around the world with a focus on orphans and widows.
Holland has recently made the move back to Montana, a place that has always been close to her heart! She has a love for wide-open spaces and big skies that, often times, you will see represented in her work. Her work typically depicts hints of landscapes in abstract form, leaving room for the imagination to tell its own story. She gains inspiration from scripture, travels, and in large part from nature. Following no rules, Jill uses a very wide range of mediums, usually mixing them together to achieve a desired effect. You will find Jill’s art represented in multiple high-end galleries in areas like Houston, Atlanta, Telluride and The Texas Hill Country.
Holland has been painting professionally for nearly 20 years, and has been in numerous individual and group shows around the country. Holland’s paintings have been seen on some popular TV shows like Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern and The WB’s Lying Games. Jill has sold thousands of paintings that reside in private and corporate collections both nationally and internationally.
Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
My art is mostly large-scale, mixed media, abstract landscapes. I truly enjoy mixing lots of different mediums together in one painting. Typically and most used for me are spray paint, plaster, acrylic paint and layers of oil paint. To me the mark of a great painting is in the mystery. I want to leave my viewers wondering, how did she do that?!
I am most proud of the fact that I get to do the thing that I love the most as a means of making money. Now that I am nearly two decades in, it is more about the lifestyle that art has allowed me to live. Because of art, I have met some amazing people, been into lots of beautiful homes, traveled all over the world, been in charge of my own schedule, and have the privilege of being a creative working individual I think the greatest accomplishment for me is the fact that I can say I truly love the work that I get to do everyday.
I got where I am today professionally by saying yes to opportunities that were presented to me no matter how unprepared or unqualified I felt at the time! There is only one way to get the experience and that is to get out there and do it for yourself. There was a lot of trial an error. They don’t really teach you about the business of art in school as much as they do the art itself. There was a lot to learn about promoting yourself as an artist, getting into galleries, pricing and selling your work and the do’s and don’ts of the art world. It was not easy, not at all. Becoming a successful artist requires a lot of hustle and a lot of work. There is so much more to it than painting a pretty picture then collecting a paycheck. Think long days and nights finishing your 40th piece for a show that you are supposed to hang the next day. Think loading dozens of large canvases into your car and hauling them 3 states over because the shipping is just too expensive. Think schlepping big pieces in and out and in and out for a client to see this or that in their home or for a show or an event. Think sending your portfolio to every gallery you really like and maybe hearing back from one (if you are lucky!). The key for me was to just keep going. Just keep trying. If that doesn’t work, try something else. Take risks, put yourself out there. Talk to other artists that are having success and see what they are doing well. Ask questions, take advice. Say yes to opportunities!
I have people tell me all the time that they are artists but they don’t know how to make a living at it. The first question I ask is, “Well, what are you doing now?” Their response is typically something like, “Well, I love to paint when I have time but I’m waiting tables or I’m doing this or that job.” Here’s the thing. You are never going to get known for doing what you do unless you actually do what you do! I would encourage everyone to keep going back to that thing that you love. What is it that thing that you can get lost in? What is it that makes you feel refreshed and revived? What thing would you feel like the luckiest person alive to be able to do and get paid for? Do it! And keep on doing it until people start to know you as the person who does that thing.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Over the last 20 years, I have had the honor of being represented in several galleries all around the country. However, in 2015 my most fortuitous partnership came when I joined the team of artists represented at Gregg Irby Gallery in Atlanta. Gregg represents an amazing roster of artists that I feel privileged to hang alongside.
(from her website)
Her original gallery opened in 2007 in a small cottage behind a church in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta. Visitors to her gallery immediately noticed and appreciated these talented stars of the art world. As a result, many of these artists’ careers matured and flourished alongside the gallery’s and raised all to nationwide acclaim. In January 2015, the gallery moved to its current 3,400 square foot space in Atlanta’s Westside creative district. The gallery’s reach continues to expand geographically through traveling shows hosted by multi-state reps. This boots-on-the-ground mentality combined with an unparalleled roster of artists have earned recognition & credibility for the artists and gallery alike.
(end of her website)
The gallery itself is truly a sight to behold. So many wonderful artists are represented and there is always new and fun work to see. If you love art and/or interior design, a stop at Gregg Irby Gallery is an absolute must! Gregg and her team do an amazing job promoting artists, working with designers and placing work all over the country. She has been one of the top sellers of my work since we joined forces 7 years ago and I look forward to many more prosperous years together.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
When I was twenty one years old, my husband and I were youth pastors at a large church in Mountain Brook, AL. One day, I had one of our girls over and we were painting together in my carport. Her mom came to pick her up and was impressed with my work. She suggested that I paint as many pieces as I could and then we could have a party at her beautiful home and she would invite a group of her friends in hopes of maybe selling a couple of pieces.
So, I did just that. Over the next few weeks, I painted about 23 paintings, large and small. They were inspired by fall leaves I had collected from Sewanee, TN where my husband went to college. The show was called “Sewanee September”. I was awe-struck when I realized they were taking down their “real art”, you know, the kind you buy from galleries with artists names that most people would recognize in order to put mine up instead. Their beautiful home was built to showcase their amazing and very real art collection. I humbly hung my work all around the house, held my breath and waited for the people to arrive. I was thinking maybe 20-30 people would show up but to my surprise it ended up being closer to 200! It was a mix of doctors and lawyers, museum curators, gallery owners, local business men and women from the community… I was stunned. The night was a bit of a whirlwind, having never really had a show or sold my work in a setting like this. By the end of the evening, I had sold 16 of the 23 pieces and had commissions for 7 more.
It was in that moment that I realized, I could really make a living at this! That home show was hosted in 2003 by Dr. Pat and Dori King. I had no idea then but it was literally the launch party for the rest of my career. I have not stopped working as an artist ever since and will be eternally grateful to them for seeing the potential in me and making that time investment.
Photos by: Tisha Shuffield