Dave Holtz, Artist & Illustrator, from our Stan Lee's Comikaze Series, on Creating Art, Entrepreneurship, & the Value of Hard Work.
December 2, 2015
I’m originally from Toledo, Ohio. To date, my background in the Entertainment & Arts Industry are that I am a fan. As an independent artist just starting out I am a gun for hire, who is looking for work.
First Job in Arts & Entertainment
My first paid job in the Arts & Entertainment Industry wasn’t art related but was as background actor on a TV show. It came about through connections in the industry.
I’m inspired by every medium there is available; be it art, film or music.
I’m inspired by anything that has a story or heart and soul to it.
The more honest and raw something is the more inspiring it becomes to me.
I’ve always enjoyed the emotional connection that art can evoke from someone.
Art is about interpretation and not everybody sees the same thing when they look at it.
Titles Held in Arts & Entertainment
As an independent artist I’ve worn every hat there is. I’ve done various different types of work through freelance work; from graphic design and portrait commissions to cartooning and character design.
They all have pretty much the same thing in common in execution and that is communication with the client and planning and preparation of the project at hand.
Dave Holtz Illustration & Entrepreneurship
I started pursuing being a professional artist in 2012. Working for myself certainly has many challenges but the thing I enjoy the most is my freedom.
As a freelance artist I can live any where in the world and travel freely to pursue my dreams.
Process For Creating Your Art
Most of my fine art work is black and white photorealism and requires a lot of research and archiving photos to build the best design and photo references to paint from.
Once the design is ready to be painted I try to convey a story and theme through my expression of watercolor.
Tools of the Trade
All of my paintings are watercolor. My tools are fairly simple. I use brushes, ink or paint, water and a whole lot of music to keep my energy up.
Improvements in Technology
Since I’m just starting out in this industry and working to carve out my niche, everything is very competitive to me.
I would say technology certainly is a factor in creating more competition because everybody can utilize computers to create art, be it simple or really complex.
But at the end of the day talent, creativity and hard work will always rise to the top in any medium.
Challenging Yourself to Grow as an Artist
I’ve been experimenting with different mediums. Using acrylics, oils markers and pastels. Practicing with different mediums I’m not used to challenges me to come up with different styles across each medium.
I would say that you have to put your pride aside and just go to work.
It’s not an industry where you can ‘feel’ like working.
Creativity is something that can be fleeting at times. The mood to paint or draw or create may not always be there every day 12 hours a day.
To make it in this industry you have to force yourself to create sometimes.
Defining Success & Contributing Factors
Factors that have attributed to any success I may have had would be hustle and desire.
I’m going to work harder than anybody out there and I want it more than anybody out there.
Money comes and goes, mostly goes; but leaving a legacy, something that can never be erased is more important to me.
Creating opportunities can be a challenge at times. Where do you start? Who do you reach out to?
Starting from scratch like I have, I wasn’t given an instruction manual on what steps to take to be able to make a living being an artist.
So, creating those opportunities is the biggest challenge for me.
Prevalent Deficiencies of New Entrants in Your Field
I would say some of the biggest deficiencies I’ve seen are the inability to take criticism and underdeveloped communication.
Being able to take a critique properly from your peers and adjust according to that critique is step one in the Arts & Entertainment world.
Specialist or Jack-of-all-Trades?
I’ve joked about being a jack -of –all- trades and master of none before but lately I’d say I’ve become more specialized in black and white photorealism paintings.
Promoting Your Work
I utilize social media heavily to promote my art work.
I use conventions to network and create more awareness of my brand in the field I’m working in.
Social media has been instrumental in growing my brand through free networking and advertising offered by social media. It’s increased awareness and helped me get in front of more people.
Top Memories in Arts & Entertainment
So far in my short career I’ve been fortunate to have my art work critiqued by two legends of the comic book industry at two separate conventions. They were both during off hours and very special moments. They were very kind as far as the critiques went too. I also had another legend personally sign a portrait I did of him for a separate convention.
I’ve had the chance to rub elbows and have interactions with some pretty heavy hitters in the industry I’ve always dreamed of being in.
Something About Your Career People Might Not Realize?
It’s not glamorous or easy. If it was everybody would do it. Being your own boss means you live and die at your own hands.
There is no fall back plan. It can be very stressful but it’s also why it is so rewarding.
When people connect to your work, buy your work or celebrate your work, there really is nothing else like that feeling in the world.
I’ve been in art classes as long as I can remember. I’ve drawn my whole life. I went college for sequential art and also took some graphic design classes.
Most of what I’m doing now as far as art is concerned is a result of practicing techniques and understanding my style within my chosen medium.
I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve had so many people in my life who have supported me in my career and pursuing it.
Several art teachers in high school, as well as my Father, made sure that I knew I was talented and that even though I may have talent I needed to develop my skill to be successful and that only comes from practice and hard work.