Guest Post: Children's Illustrator Samantha Holm on the Importance of Art in Storytelling and What Inspires Her Artistically

12:30 AM

Last December, I found myself in a bit of a slump for content. Especially after a good majority of my posts from Tumblr are now gone. And I knew that getting close to twelve years in this community, I needed something to revive my creativity. At the same time, the idea in my grasp was brewing for nearly three years—I wanted to spotlight my friends.

During this time, I knew wanted to give a platform to various people in my life who, I feel, have a great deal to share with my audience. Open up a bit of discussion via a series of guest posts and explore new ideas. That's what our community is about—embracing others creative outlets, careers and hobbies.

Look beyond, and within, the literary world bit by bit.

Through the years, I've hosted an array of literary guests here on Booked J—now, I'm excited to explore the fact that there is more than one way to tell a story. The first person that came to mind was, of course, my incredibly talented and longtime friend, Samantha Holm.

It is in her authenticity, and boldness, the qualities that makes her take the spotlight. And when I think of her, I think of an immensely beautiful heart and soul, and the way that these traits tie into her craft.

Art is a highly potent creative outlet and often takes us on a journey into something captivating. To an artist it is so much more than that. Watching her passion transfer itself to paper is a testament to her talents. It is, of course, the driving force to this guest post and, ultimately, her legacy.

Needless to say, today's post is one that I've been looking forward to for a long time.

Without further ado, I'm honored to introduce you to my dearest friend and aspiring/upcoming children's illustration, Samantha Holm—and excited to give you a glimpse into her mind's eyes and discuss how she creates her imaginative art. And just what she hopes her creations portray to audiences of all ages.

My work invites you into a world of blooming nostalgia:

This is the reason why I primarily work with watercolor paints. To create that feeling of youth as it was; establishing whimsical splashes of colors that replicate the colorful lenses of a child. It is my hope that my art will take you back to a specific time, to that specific place.

We may not be able to relive these moments of youth in living color, but art allows us to.

As children, we saw the world through a kaleidoscope of colors, saturated with eccentric movements and a carefree sense because we had little to worry about. I love watercolor for this reason because a computer cannot create the spontaneity that watercolor can. (Although, I'm not opposed to the use of computers—adding linework in Illustrator is a nice way to clean up and pull any piece together.)

Art that tells a story of its own, together or apart of the bigger picture:

I love for my artwork to act as a way of storytelling. I approach it as such: storytelling.

Marrying pictures and words is one of the best feelings. Seeing two drastically different forms of creativity join together on page, and then celebrating this union, is a feeling that can't be replicated. It vividly ties two worlds together and creates endless possibilities of imagination.

Look at it like this: the experience is unique to all.

Whether a child is bonding with their family, sharing the joys of storytelling, or learning to read by flipping through a books pages on a rainy afternoon. Whether you're revisiting your own childhood by picking up something familiar. The experience is what makes picture books impossible to forget.

For every picture book holds some of our earliest sensory memories. The greatest stories that are told through art and prose push you headfirst into a story, making memories that create a feeling you will hold onto through adulthood.

Which is why I feel as if my art needs to speak what words can't. Art becomes a language all its own. One that translates differently from person to person. If you were to take away the dialogue of a story, the piece should still speak out in all its colors.

A vision has to say what words cannot.

Oh, Inspiration! Where Art Thou?

For me, inspiration was easy to come by as a kid.

During childhood, I was obsessed with picture books and Sunday morning cartoons. That's where it all really started. There were countless days where I tried to draw all of those colorful animations—I especially loved drawing the different hairstyles and the funny shoes.

While the inspiration was there, the attempts weren't always hits. For every failure, I'd get frustrated. But, the key is that it never stopped me. I would put paper to the television screen and keep going; trying to trace it. Looking back, it's humorous—it never worked!

As an adult, there are so many sources of inspiration out there. It can be a bit overwhelming.

I'm constantly bombarded with amazing illustrators on Instagram, for example. After a certain point, we have to look away. As for off screen inspiration, I'm fortunate enough to presently live in a major city. Everyday I step outside, I'm able to observe the diverse flow of people around me. I find myself thinking of where they are going, how they live their lives.

I ask myself what their routine consists of—what is their ordinary?—and wonder what parts make their day standout; what quirks you might find in their life. Every person is different. Every person sparks a different story—and these little stories begin to sprout from their lifestyles. Before long, I am able to construct these details in my mind.

Imagination is what unlocks it. That's where personality grows on the page.
From the Archives, Samantha's Favourite Children's Books: 

Introducing Samantha Holm: Children's Illustrator 

Samantha Holm is a Chicago based artist with a bachelor's degree in Illustration. Traditionally trained at the American Academy of Arts, she works primarily in watercolor and digital media such as Illustrator and Photoshop. Samantha specializes in children's books, editorial and advertising.

Utilizing her sociable and imaginative personality, Samantha creates bright illustrations that capture a sense of spontaneity and playfulness. Samantha loves to take everyday people or animals and paint them in a way that puts their uniqueness on display. In doing so she puts a quirky, magical twist on what we often forget to see in our ordinary, everyday lives.
  You can find Samantha on her official website or Instagram.  

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