Just this morning a friend and I were talking about how Instagram has become the greatest resource for making connections and discovering new talent, and Matthew Hollister is my most recent case-in-point. The other night I was stalking a few of my friends’ accounts to see who they were following and was led to Hollister’s feed, where I was greeted by some great vector illustrations of iconic sports heroes of the past four decades. Upon further research, I learned that he’s created work for Nike, as well as the most prestigious names in publishing, including The New York Times, The New Yorker and Time. With such great style and impressive resume, I had to reach out and ask him a few questions. Here’s what he told me.
Nick Santora: What was your inspiration for creating athlete inspired art?
Matthew Hollister: I grew up in a very rural part of Pennsylvania and from an early age my main interests were drawing and basketball. When I couldn’t be outside shooting hoops, I’d be inside leafing through Slam and trying to draw my favorite players and shoes.
How would you describe your style?
When I’m working on a portrait, I try to focus on creating interesting shapes that appear realistic but are also stretched or arranged in a way that describe the qualities or actions of the subject.
How did you turn your art into a career?
I studied at Pratt Institute, and got a degree in illustration. After school I just stuck to my guns and kept making work and trying to get people to work with me. It was a long haul to get started, but over the past 14 years, I’ve worked with publications like The New York Times, The New Yorker and Time, as well as companies and agencies like Nike, and Ogilvy & Mather.
If you could pick anyone in the sports or sneaker world to read this interview, who would it be and what would you want them to know about you?
I’ve lived in Seattle for six years now, and the Jamal Crawford Pro-Am is really a favorite of mine. Jamal does so much for the Seattle hoops scene, it’s amazing. If he ever needed an illustration for a t-shirt giveaway for kids that come to the Pro Am, I’d want to get down with that.
What new projects are you working on that you’d like to mention?
My friend Sasha Barr and I just designed and illustrated a mini-magazine that will be included in the October issue of The Fader. It’s focused on a few different cities and contains interviews with local musicians that talk about their favorite parts of where they live.
All-Time favorite sneaker?
As a kid, I would work all summer in an apple orchard to save money for basketball shoes. I was the most excited my freshman year of high school because I had bought the Nike Air Unlimited and after wearing them the first day, all of my toes and my heals were cut and bleeding! But looking back at all the shoes I’ve hooped in, I’m most fond of the Nike Zoom Flight 95s. I remember thinking the bubbles on the side were so interesting and the soles were so comfortable. The look of that shoe still really sticks out to me.