Last month the London Underground system was used as a backdrop by ArtBelow to showcase some of the most exciting young contemporary artists in the country. Illustrator Lee Holland was one of them. His work ‘We Are All Pawns’ was shown at London Bridge station. “We Are All Pawns is a bit of a one liner really,” Holland explains. “I know that thousands of people use London Bridge tube station so I wanted to make a statement, to say my own little weird thing to the general public. It had some really good feedback though, which is nice.”
Holland’s work is bright, bold and full of references to pop-culture and the world around him. He has worked for big brands such as H&M and Penguin books, and recently designed the shop-front for super-hip restaurant of the moment, Etta’s Seafood in Brixton, adorning the windows with smiling cartoon fish. He is also about to launch his first line of t-shirts.
Having originally studied Fine Art, Holland became dissatisfied with the way everyone was doing the same thing and decided he wanted to become an illustrator. “When I was little, I was really into Where’s Wally and The Jolly Postman,” he says. “I remember thinking they were awesome because they would contain so much to interpret that you end up looking at them time and time again. I feel this aspect is no longer of importance to most image makers because the trend of minimalism and conceptualism is in everything from advertising to Fine Art and even in children’s books.”
“Illustration is widely believed to be in poor shape because the use of an illustrator to the commercial world has declined,” Holland laments. “However all is not lost, I think that what we are seeing now is the emergence of a new school of illustrators like Noma Bar and Mcbess who are adapting to the climate and finding new facets for illustration, after all if illustration is loosing popularity then it’s down to the illustrators to show the industry the importance of our medium.”