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Conversations | Hollis Callas


Hollis is an illustrator and designer living in San Francisco, CA.


Describe your work as if you're speaking to a 5 year old.

I draw plants, animals and things I see on my adventures in the great outdoors. I’ve never met a flower I didn’t love.



Your preferred method of getting that good creative vibe going.

My creative vibe starts on my morning walks with my dog, Mamut. We generally stroll the same path, taking in the nature that changes every day. Noticing new blooms, spotting new bird friends, encountering new sniffs and sounds. Being outside first thing in the morning starts my sense of wonder and I think that’s crucial to my grounding and my creative process.


Once indoors, I sit down at my (ideally freshly cleaned) desk, turn on some french cafe music that provides a good vibe - I can’t understand the lyrics so it doesn’t distract me too much. Sometimes I even light a candle to signal the ritual of creating.


One living artist or designer you want to have cocktails with.

I’d love to sit down and share cocktails and a conversation with Elizabeth Olwen. She's an artist and surface designer in Lisbon that who's always inspired me. She just seems like an incredibly lovely person to get to know.


I’d be thrilled to pick her brain about her creative practice and chat with her about color. She is the color queen!



What drives you absolutely nuts about the (art) world?

When the creative process doesn’t align with the business side it can be a bit daunting. Lately, I’ve been feeling the pull of having to wear so many hats as a creative.


Not only do you have to find time for organic inspiration and creation, but also producing content and sharing your process with everyone. Which means you have to be a video editor and art director as well as a marketing expert and a project manager and don't forget a client services specialist..the list goes on. Ha!


It takes a lot to balance it all. Although it all feels necessary to run an art business, it sometimes takes away from the thing I'm trying to do in the first place...create!


That being said, I simultaneously feel endlessly lucky to be creative for a living.



A quote or lyric that your brain won’t shake.

Even a little means a lot.


Most recent song you've been listening to on repeat.

The entire album Belesia by Ignacio Maria Gomez is on repeat these days.



Last book you read that you couldn't put down.

Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder - a captivating novel that takes place in the dense and diverse Amazon jungle. Mycology & mystery, what more could you ask for? 


Recent life upgrade that's been a game changer.

I am going to sound like an old lady, but I’ll risk it if it helps someone else out… I recently got a pair of Haflinger house shoes and WOW- what a life upgrade. Fellow work-from-home friends, don’t underestimate the power of arch support.



If you could teleport to any bar right now, which bar would it be and what would you be drinking?

I’d go to Zamora, Spain, where my husband and I lived for two years, to Bar Chillon. I’d order a spanish tortilla con salsa and a “caña” (a very small glass of very standard cold beer). I’d sit outside in the sun and enjoy watching the people walk by.


Advice, compliment, insult... something that you will never forget.

I was in a grad school class where we had to give each of our peers a tagline for their work. The class gave me “Breath of Fresh Air.” It felt so kind and I adapted it as a mantra for how I want to look at my creativity in general - trying to approach each piece with a fresh perspective.


What podcast or show are you recommending that others may not have heard/seen?

POOG with Kate Berlant and Jacqueline Novak. It’s a playful, comedic commentary on the wellness industry, thoughts & feelings on life and everything in between. Both gals are brilliant comedians together and on their own.



If someone asks you to cook your "specialty" - what are you cooking?

Perfectly boiled marinated eggs.


What was the most memorable field trip you can remember?

I got to spend the night at the Atlanta Zoo as a 4th grader. We explored the “World of Reptiles” building in the dead of night with flashlights. I can still see the reflection of all the snakes and slithery creatures staring back at me in the darkness.


A piece of art in your home that you LOVE.

My favorite piece of art is from the very talented Kaitlyn Stubbs, a Brooklyn-based painter, who also happens to be my best friend. She painted a still life of a moment in my home - fresh farmers market flowers and ripe tangerines on the kitchen counter.


The light is captured perfectly and it feels like you can just lean in and smell the gorgeous bouquet.



Huge shout-out to ______ for ______!

Huge shout-out to my husband Greg for keeping me belly-laughing everyday.


Check out more of Hollis's work here.


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