Everyday Inspiration // Holly Warburton

Bath-based artist Holly Warburton is an illustrator and 2D animator with a sketching style that is both eye-catching and tender. Her vivid colour palette is offset with softened features and fine linework as observational character portraits convey the emotions and hardships of life and love, captured in fleeting scenes of everyday life. Currently working as a concept artist for an animation studio, — “It’s quite a big responsibility, but I am really enjoying the challenge of helping to bring someone else’s vision to life!” — Warburton took time out to speak to WOM about her works, inspiration and creative passions.

interview with illustrator and animator holly warburton with images of expressionist portraiture

Hi Holly! Firstly, when did you become interested in illustration and what has driven you to pursue your creative passion as a career?

Having always put pretty much all my focus and effort into art subjects at school (sometimes to a fault!), I had known for a long time that creativity was important to me – as both a lifestyle and potential career focus. I have always enjoyed working figuratively, and decided that illustration would allow me to pursue that interest whilst pushing my skills forward. What’s driven me to continue pursuing my creative career is, what feels like, a natural reflex. Whatever happens, I always return to creative work – there is nothing else that I gravitate to as much as that. 

I wonder where you’re going

You feature a wide range of characters as subjects in your art – are these figures based on people you know in real life?

The characters I draw come from various sources, but all of them have a basis in observation. I have a collection of sketchbooks filled with sketches of people that I have drawn from life. So they range from strangers to close friends. When I am looking for a starting point, those sketchbooks are my first port of call.

Character animation

What inspires your work?

I enjoy referencing everyday scenarios in my work. I think that comes from an enthusiasm for drawing from life as well as having an interest in looking for moments of connection amongst the hustle and bustle of daily life. I think above all, I am most interested in themes of relationships. This may be romantic, familial, friendships or otherwise. When I see an emotional bond between people, it stands out to me and I feel inspired to capture it through illustration.


Your illustrations feature everyday scenes depicted in a very vivid way, for me they are quite reminiscent of some Expressionist art works…

I often look to painters for ideas on how to use colour to emphasise the feeling of witnessing such a moment. I think the Impressionists were (and continue to be) very successful at holding the attention of the viewer due to their use of colour. The unusual hues they bring together create beautiful interpretations of everyday scenes. I’m a keen admirer. I definitely look to Expressionist works for similar reasons, yet there’s more of a moodiness and darkness there which I like to refer to as well.

Where do you go to get inspired?

I find that taking a journey or passing through a new city sparks new ideas. It allows me to observe brief moments of other people’s lives. I think breaking the pattern of familiarity is very helpful, and passing through new environments can facilitate that. In familiar places, you can lose interest in your surroundings and forget to keep looking. 

Walking to Bobby’s house – panel 1

What do you like doing when you are not creating art?

When not creating art I like to write. There are times when drawing isn’t quite sufficient for noting down certain observations or experiences, so I enjoy trying to describe them in written form! I can’t say my skills are particularly strong, but I like to keep a hobby which is personal and ‘just for the sake of it’. I think it’s healthy to keep that going alongside everything else.

See more of Holly’s works at https://www.hollywarbs.com and on Instagram. All images are courtesy of the artist.