Brad Holland
Why is it that the more I like an artist's work,
the more difficult is usually is to say "why" I like it?
Brad Holland is like that. And, as is quite often the case with my favorites,
 I cannot recall when I first became aware of his work
 - it seems that it was always there.

Holland was born in 1943 and pretty much taught himself to draw.
He remembers drawing his own comic books as a child and,
at the age of seven, took it upon himself to rewrite the ending
of the Iliad in the Classics Illustrated version.
My guess is the Trojans won. As he grew older,
 he tried unsuccessfully to get work at the Disney Studios.
Left to his own devices for tutelage, he tried to reproduce the effects he saw in "charcoal"
drawing with charcoal briquettes and he used model airplane paint to do his earliest
color work. While the results haven't survived the years, he must have learned
something from the efforts. By 1960 he was ready to leave home
and head for the big city (Chicago) and make his mark on the art world.Unfortunately, the art world didn't notice him. I would love to see what his
portfolio looked like at that age. The drawings have been described as
"apocalyptic" and with his raw skills coupled with some
 youthful intensity they must have been pretty powerful.
(I learn a lot from looking at the early work of an artist. It often reflects very
 directly the influences and emotions that helped shape them.
The can sometimes lend insight into their later work. Plus the exuberance
 of youth and its I'll Show Them attitude usually makes for some pretty
 impressive images. Many early pieces by talented artists also display
 the benefit of time, a factor usually in very short supply later in their careers.)
A couple of years as an assistant to a Chicago artist
(and other less "glamorous" jobs like tattooing and grocery stock boy)
 and Holland opted for a steady paycheck in the glamorous greeting
card field. He moved to Kansas City to work for Hallmark.
The early sixties constitute his schooling and apprenticeship years.
 The main art training he had was from John Dioszegi,
the artist he worked for in Chicago, and those fellow artists at Hallmark.
Does anyone have any of the cards he did?
He won the 1991 Hamilton King for the painting at left, "I'm Coming Apart"
and there is a wonderful conversation between Brad and his longtime friend
and fellow artist, Wendell Minor in that Illustrators 33 annual.
At one point the conversation veers wildly into speculations on which historic
artists might have belonged to the Shriners. Holland muses, "I have a feeling the Shriners
would have begged (Picasso) to join and then encouraged
him not to attend meetings." That's the sense
of humor that comes through in much of his art. I like both It would
 be most interesting to see his work from this period.
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