Brad Holland

Brad Holland
Brad Holland has been a major figure in contemporary American illustration for as long as I can remember, and I’ve wanted to do a post about him for some time, but I’ve been put off by his web site, in which the images are few and inexplicably small.

I just discovered, however, that Holland now has a space on illoz that is many times better than his own web site and finally gives an adequate view of his work.

Holland has a long list of prestigious clients including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair and many others.

I remember being impressed early on with his pen and ink drawings, in which he somehow made ink textures that felt like charcoal and pulled light out of darkness.

His ink drawings can be at times sophisticated and complex and at other times have a rough cartoony feeling reminiscent of the drawings of B. Kliban.

His color pieces have a remarkable feeling in which color and texture seem to be inseparable, as though he worked in color/texture as a sensibility rather then one or the other at any given moment.

His editorial illustrations can be brain-tinglingly clever in their concept and execution, often making a complete statement in themselves in addition to illustrating the written piece.

New York Art World hosts a page of quotes from Holland on art and related subjects that, agree or disagree, are worth a listen.

I particularly like his quote on “That’s Not Art, That’s Illustration”:

Almost everybody is an artist these days. Rock and Roll singers are artists. So are movie directors, performance artists, make-up artists, tattoo artists, con artists and rap artists. Movie stars are artists. Madonna is an artist, because she explores her own sexuality. Snoop Doggy Dogg is an artist because he explores other people’s sexuality. Victims who express their pain are artists. So are guys in prison who express themselves on shirt cardboard. Even consumers are artists when they express themselves in their selection of commodities. The only people left in America who seem not to be artists are illustrators.


12 Replies to “Brad Holland”

  1. I had the opportunity to meet Brad last fall, he really is a facinating person. He’s very active in artist’s rights as well, working to educate people about the Orphan Works bill for example.

    He said that the started drawing in crayon because he felt like he was “just another guy who painted like Brad Holland”.


  2. When I was around 12 years old, I found my dad’s hidden Playboy magazines – next thing I’m running up to my mom with the stack, excited that I found this great artist inside (she was aghast of course). It was Brad Holland who made me want to be a painter.
    Thank you for the feature Charley.

  3. Thanks, all, for your comments.

    In addition to contributing editorial illustrations to Playboy, Holland was for a long time the regular illustrator for their “Ribald Classics” feature. (I had my own hidden stash of Playboys…)

  4. There is a excellent book of his pen and ink drawings that came out in 1977 called “Human Scandals”. I was lucky enough to find a copy, but it might be possible to find a copy on or

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