Artist Spotlight: Hollie Brown (@bab.edoodles)

We talk to Sheffield-based illustrator Hollie Brown (@bab.edoodles) about eveything from questionable cartoon influences to the strength of the Steel City art scene.

What first drew you to illustration?
I suppose everyone says they got into art as a kid, but I was never really the academic type and mostly stuck to art and music. It wasn’t until I took a foundation course at the Northern School of Art, up in Middlesbrough, and was offered a course in Illustration that I thought I’d give it a proper go.

What appealed to you about that medium in particular?
Well, painting was never really my forte. I did fine art at school and enjoyed it, but there was a part of it that felt a little too intense for me. For me, illustration felt a bit more freeing and I was able to express more.

Hollie Brown's artwork- Digtal illustration


You’ve got a very distinctive style – there’s a bit of a psychedelic, trippy element to it, and also a bit of a new gothic edge. Can you talk us through your influences?
I think it’s taken a few years to develop into what it is now. Music is a big one these days. You could go back to when I was a kid and was heavily influenced by comics and Cartoon Network shows, the kind of slightly dark and weird Ed, Edd n Eddy style shows.

You can see that, and those shows were a bit trippy! Stuff like Ren & Stimpy and Cow and Chicken fall into that category, too.
Absolutely, and stuff like The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. That was really weird stuff and there was definitely a lot of dark humour thrown in for adults. You absorb it all at some point, in the same way as visiting a gallery.

Hollie Brown's artwork- digital illustration

“For me, illustration felt a bit more freeing and I was able to express more.”

You recently exhibited some of your work as part of a competition with Ayup Illustrators at Picture House Social, which you won. Firstly, congrats! And secondly, who are the Ayup Illustrators?
It’s run by Alastair Flindall, an artist who does a lot of mural work around Sheffield. He collected five up-and-coming local illustrators and put us onto this exhibition at Picture House sponsored by Aperol and Campari. We were all allocated a cocktail to illustrate in our own interpretation, then they remained on show for two weeks and the public could vote for their favourite. It was a great opportunity and really nice to get the votes.

Hollie Brown's artwork- digital illustration

Hollie’s prize-winning piece.

What sort of stuff do you have in the pipeline?
I’ve got a few things lined up in Sheffield city centre, a bit of mural work and some stuff related to the music scene. Sheffield’s great because it’s a small creative community and everybody helps each other out; it’s a bit of a dark horse as a city in terms of the creative scene.

It seems to straddle that line of being big enough to have stuff going on but also retaining a smaller community feel?
Absolutely. In some cities, Manchester being a good example, you can get swept away in the amount of stuff going on. For me, Sheffield feels like the perfect size, and the mindset of the people here tends to be open and friendly. Coming out of the lockdowns it’s been incredible seeing work displayed again, and it feels like everyone in the creative industry is raring to go again.

“It feels like everyone in the creative industry is raring to go again.”

Ok, to sign off – dream project or collaboration?
Oooh this is a very difficult one. I really love the trance/psychedelic nature of Tash Sultana’s music, so I think could have fun with that in a creative sense.


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