creative chicago // denise holmes

When did you realize you wanted to be an illustrator? What was your process to become one?

Denise: I was doodling at my desk job out of college instead of doing my work. It was about the time etsy started, blogs were pretty new, and I discovered the work of Jen Corace. I also started meeting freelance artists around Chicago who made art for a living and I thought, if they can do it, I’m going to do it! So, I quit and never went back to a desk job!

I did jump right into illustration. I told my boss I was quitting and that I was going to start freelancing in two weeks. I really had no clue what I was doing! I was smart enough to have money saved up to get me through the year for rent, utilities, supplies, health insurance, and groceries. I sold my car and bought a bike.

I designed a website, posted my work on flickr, sold my illustrations on etsy and started emailing everyone under the sun. I then met Amy of Art School Girl and we started getting together once a week to talk about art and paper goods. She helped push me to make more work and introduced me to a group of amazing artists in chicago. I still work on my website, post my work on flickr, sell my goods on etsy as well as get to work with a ton of amazing clients. I am in illustrator heaven!

Describe a normal work day.

Denise: I don’t have a very exciting work day. I do the normal routines like making breakfast, practicing yoga, running errands, and cleaning up the apartment. Most of my afternoon is spent responding to emails, reading blogs, looking through pinterest, catching up on twitter, and researching ideas for projects. I try to get out of the studio once a week and either read in a coffee shop, look at the books at quimby’s, go to a museum or grab lunch with a friend.

How long have you lived in Chicago?

Denise: 12 years, however my husband and I lived in New Orleans and Milwaukee for 18 of those months… we like to pretend we were on an extended vacation!

How does living in Chicago inspire your work?

Denise: I think the most inspiring thing about Chicago is having a network of friends and artists who are creating and making a living off of their work.

Chicago also offers a ton of resources that help inspire my creativity – from being able to sell goods at the renegade craft fair, taking continuing ed classes at The School of the Art Institute, seeing a movie at the Gene Siskel Film Center to hearing an artist lecture at Columbia College. I am surrounded by different cultures, architecture, and people that make up Chicago, so it’s not hard to step outside and just be inspired.

Speaking of inspiration, what is your current biggest inspiration?

Denise: Textiles! I’m on a textile kick at the moment and keep finding myself looking at vintage fabric on etsy, drooling over the designs on spoonflower, and dreaming up of ways to get into the world of surface design.

Isn’t she adorable?! Thanks again Denise for letting us into your creative process, you are such an inspiration! Also, congratulations on the little bun in the oven! Can’t wait to see all the cute things you create for that lucky child of yours! xoxo

2 thoughts on “creative chicago // denise holmes

  1. denise says:

    dennise! thanks so much for interviewing me! it’s exciting to be on your blog, i’m thrilled!!

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