Joel Holland.

“My desk is in my apartment in Brooklyn, New York. It’s also my dinner table so I try to keep it clean. It helps to end they day by putting my stuff away and clearing it off. Refresh. I work mainly with brush pens and tracing paper. So aside from redrawing my drawings/type over and over there’s not much of a mess to worry about. AND, despite recent announcements I believe I’m still a Virgo, hence the cleanliness.”


Joel Holland is a former point guard and current amateur pizza maker based in Brooklyn, New York. He is also an illustrator-hand letterer whose clients include: The New York Times, Penguin Books, Time magazine, Pentagram UK, Weiden + Kennedy, and numerous other publications and agencies around the world. His work has appeared on billboards, t-shirts, lampshades, a teepee and a model’s butt.  In additional, he occasionally works as masked model for random bookjackets…

FROM YOUR DESKS: I love spaghetti and meatballs; is that a family recipe?
JOEL HOLLAND: I wish! I love spaghetti and meatballs too, but these are leftovers from Lunetta in Carol Gardens. However, I’m really into making pizza. When I retire from the design/hand lettering/illustration business I plan on opening a shop. I joke that I should start making pizza for bachelorette parties.
FYD: On the illustrative tip, you seem to get a fair share of food related assignments. Is there a fruit or vegetable you could draw with your eyes closed?
JH: Hmmm, I love all things food related. Even dish-washing sometimes. I bet I could draw a handsome heirloom-esque tomato with the eyes closed….(see right).
FYD: How do you work?  
JH: As early as possible… I try to get out for coffee and walk a bit before I get moving. In the UK I’m represented by the illustration agency Dutch Uncle, so because of the time difference my mornings are sometimes chaotic. After that, the banging things out happens. My style allows me to work fast and I like having a lot going on at once. It all depends. Somedays I go all day without eating, others I’ll be in the kitchen cooking trying to come up with ideas. Somedays there’s a dog here, somedays not.
I have considered self publishing but I would much much prefer someone else to deal with distribution…hello world, any help?
FYD: I’m Martin Page fan. Do you read his books? He’s funny to the point of making me laugh out loud (a rare feat these days)
JH: Yep, I’ve read both books. I like the way Page works his characters. I’ve worked on two of his so far, and have been lucky to work with good/smart people at Penguin who get the covers approved! Martin and I were interviewed for this book (Penguin 75) where they had the authors and designers of books talk about the covers. Good stuff.

FYD: Talk about how you approached the Joshua Ferris book, you really nab the smart-serious but funny authors.

JH: Firstly, Then We Came to the End is really funny. Ok. The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris. There were a ton of variations.  I used my favorite fat brush pen and tried to capture the romance, sadness, helplessness all at once. This idea was to have the type be personal and act as a window… read it.

FYD: I dig your really boring drawings? Why is it so hard for great talent to find a publisher, and would you consider self publishing?
JH: Are you being sarcastic??? They are really really really boring drawings. About things found in the trash, shelves, long johns etc… in a way it’s an illustrated autobiography. It’s been difficult because publishers want to make books that will actually get sold. I have considered self publishing but I would much much prefer someone else to deal with distribution… hello world, any help?
Somedays I go all day without eating, others I’ll be in the kitchen cooking trying to come up with ideas. 
FROM YOUR DESKS: You were a point guard. In my 80’s Celtics Larry Bird days, I would have given Danny Ainge props. Who is your favorite point guard of all time?
JH: Funny. I used to love the Celtic’s. My dad’s a fan so I was too. He even bought me one share of Boston Celtic stock back in the day. Who knew some sports teams were public? Anyway, I liked Ainge, but Brian Shaw was my man. Thought his game was really fresh… until Mark Jackson came along. Best point guard ever. And the sole reason why I’m a solid Knick fan today.

FYD: For your stints as a masked model for book jackets, you have been George Bush and that furry fellow?

JH: Me as a parrot was for the David Sedaris book Dress my Family in Corduroy and Denim. I had always thought it would be awesome to be a mascot, and this was the closest I ever got. There are some great outtakes with me wearing the parrot feet… Sadly, it didn’t fly. Some other examples are on the “About” page on my site. I’ll be waiting for the flood of much deserved new modeling gigs…

FYD: What a mistake on the Sedaris book; that parrot is great! What’s your favorite meal after a hard days work? 

JH: If I’m not cooking, I’d go to Franny’s up the block. Some red wine, some snacks, a pizza, a seat at the bar. Done.

2 Comments For “Joel Holland.”

  1. Jay Wiese says:

    Why does everyone on this blog have a Macbook?

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