Holly Maguire’s illustrations are bursting at the seams with all the vibrancy and colour of Spring in full bloom; both the subject matter she chooses and her techniques reflect the influence of and an appreciation for, nature.

Her hand painted gouache illustrations show brightly coloured characters surrounded by curling leaves, happy pets and sometimes, even wearing repeating floral patterns. The commitment to what inspires her has helped Holly secure work with clients like Vivetta and Boden; translating the floral patterns seen on her characters into clothing, as well as seeing her work in print with clients like Cicada Books, AHD Paper Co and In the Moment Magazine.

We spoke to Holly about the benefits of having two studios, what she’s been listening to recently and where she would like her work to take her…

Where do you live?

Bristol, UK

Where is your studio located? 

I have two! I work partly in a studio in Stokes Croft, Bristol and also have a home studio! I love the balance of both, it’s great to get out of the house and socialise with my lovely studio mates and also nice to have quieter days working from home.

Can you describe your creative process?

I primarily work by hand using a mixture of gouache, inks, pencils and pens. My process starts with a lot of little pencil sketches while I come up with an idea for a new illustration. I then create a bigger, more final sketch and transfer it onto water colour paper with a light box. After I have finished painting/drawing I will then scan the image into photoshop to clean up any mistakes, add details and enhance the colours.

What does a typical working day look like?

It always starts with a half asleep cup of tea at my desk followed by an hour or so of procrastination; looking at my phone or the news! After my second cup I’m more ready to get stuck into some emails and admin work. I like to break up the day with a walk or run (especially when I’m working from home) and the afternoon is when I’m usually feeling creative and ready to make some illustrations!

Do you listen to music or the radio whilst you work? If so, what’s on your playlist?

I listen to a mixture of podcasts and music whilst I work, as well as TV shows!  My favourite current podcasts are – The Rewatchables, Table Manners, How to Fail & Creative pep Talk. My music changes a lot but I’ve been listening to a lot of The Beatles and Lizzo at the mo!

How long have you been with the Artworks for?

About 2 and a half years now.

What drew you to Artworks?

The beautiful work of the other artists at The Artworks!

What books or programmes did you love as a child? Have they influenced your work in any way?

I loved all of Korky Pauls books! My favourite films were the Secret Garden and Labyrinth. They definitely influenced my work and made me want to include lots of detail, fun and greenery in my work!

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be instead?

I think I would be a gardener or a baker.

What was the most important lesson your learned at Art School, if you went!

Probably to stay self motivated! There is always something fun or distracting going on at Art School and that was where I learned that only I was going to make it happen if I wanted to build a career as an illustrator.

What inspires you the most to create?

I love working on projects that are focused around kindness and positive change in the world. This is something I want to continue to spend more time on with my illustrations.

Name three artists that you admire

Carson Ellis, Frida Kahlo & Phoebe Wahl.

What kind of commissions do you enjoy the most?

My favourite recent commissions have been based around self care and caring for the environment.

What would your dream commission be?

Probably an environmental campaign. Not sure what kind of format it would take but this is an area I really want to move into more!

Do you have any pets? If so, what and what are they called?

I don’t currently but I am desperate to adopt a dog in the near future!

What 5 things could you not live without?

1. My plants
2. Animals
3. Tea
4. Oat Mylk
5. Potatoes (in any form!)

What is your very favourite meal?

Chips and mushy peas or any Mexican food!

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Gardening, baking, charity shopping, collecting vintage packaging & running.

What is your current dream travel destination?

Japan & Canada.

To see more of Holly’s work, click here.