Interview: Tilia Holmes
Tilia is a Bristol based artist, who specialises in pyrography and oil painting on wood. Her craft has really taken off over the last year where she is now showcasing and selling her work online and at exhibitions.
Hello Tilia, thank you so much for chatting with me, how are you today?
Hey! Very good thanks, thank you for featuring me on your blog!
Tell us a little bit about your background!
I am originally from the South West Dorset countryside and have grown up surrounded by nature. My parents have always been creative and have immersed me in a life of trees, ever since naming me after one.
From living in Dorset until University, I then studied at Bournemouth Arts Uni. I now live in Bristol and work at a local print studio called Mockingbird Press. Here I have developed new ways to sell my artwork and I have learnt so much from many of Bristol’s emerging artists.
How did you get into the art of pyrography and what tools are required?
The first time I tried out Pyrography was in year 12 at A level – I was doing a project focussed on my family tree, and I wanted to bring an actual tree into my piece. My mum and dad dug out an old Pyrography iron they used to use to sign the furniture they made. After experimenting with illustrating family portraits on wood, I became obsessed! Over the years I invested in a better Pyrography iron that is much more reliable, but other than the iron and a beautiful piece of wood; this is all you need!
Did you find that University helped peruse your passion for pyrography?
At Bournemouth Arts University I studied Visual Communication, which is a mix between Graphic Design and Illustration. I kept my Pyrography separate from the projects within my degree, as I wanted to try new techniques and find executions that were more appropriate for the briefs. I used my wood art to feed my Fine Art cravings whilst studying a more digital degree and managed to sell my work alongside being at University.
What is your main source of inspiration for your work?
My main source of inspiration is trees, my parents created Dansel woodwork gallery in Abbotsbury, Dorset, over 40 years ago as a platform to exhibit their own woodwork alongside over 200 craftsmen and women working in UK. From being immersed in this creative world of wood my whole life I have always been inspired to be artistic, this began with a passion for drawing. I have an obsession with Pyrographing trees onto wood; I find something very interesting in recreating unusual sections of the trees onto the wood, showing people the beauty of natural resources.
Using my parents’ gallery as a platform to sell my work, this has inspired me to keep creating and working on new ideas.
Where do you find/buy your wood?
I get my pieces of wood from a few different places, mainly craftsmen. Sometimes they are offcuts from furniture and sometimes they are pieces collected by my dad from our own woodland. For the really big pieces, I have had to search through sawmills to find the perfect cut!
How many pieces have you sold so far?
I am not sure! I have been selling work on the side of education for a while, however over the past year I have really tried to take it more seriously and find new avenues to expose my work.
Do you have any favourite pieces?
The work I have created since living in Bristol has been my favourite as I feel I have really immersed myself into new ideas and involving more and more detail. From living in the city, I have really missed the countryside, so whenever I am home I like to take hundreds of photos of trees to work from.
What has been your biggest challenge to date?
I am currently working towards an exhibition in London in September called the New Artist Fair, I am taking a collection of originals and prints to show. I am finishing off one of my biggest pieces to date which is proving to be the most challenging piece I have worked on. It is a huge Pyrography and painting piece measuring over 1m wide, this piece has been very challenging as I have tried to include a lot of detail within the Pyrography. I am now about to start painting the piece so I am hoping to finish in time for the exhibition!
What’s the best way to keep yourself motivated with a big piece?
At the moment my motivation has been the exhibition, I find that having something to work towards really helps me put the hours in.
Unusual pieces of wood also give me motivation, as I am eager to start illustrating on to them! From working in a print studio, I am meeting artists every day to discuss their work and I find it so inspiring to see what other people make.
Where do you hope to see yourself and your work in the future?
I am really excited to keep creating my own work and continue to sell prints and originals. I hope to meet new contacts and branch my work out to different galleries and exhibitions through accepting lots of opportunities! In the future I hope to do more exhibitions and find different avenues to share my love of trees!