David Holub’s got one fist of whimsy and the other of steel, if the right one don’t getchya the other one will. The former editor of DGO has gone rogue; he’s now a member artist at Studio &, creating visual art anchored in narrative. Holub’s work wants to pleasantly provoke you into being present, and it will.
Holub went from commercial illustrator, designer, and journalist to interstitial storyteller, visual artist, and performer. Dude can’t help it – ardor and ingenuity seep outta his bones. DGO chatted him up about joining Studio & and where the heck his current micro-fiction-meets-digital-illustration is coming from.
What’s your first memory of Studio &? I walked into Studio & the second day I was in town, not knowing anybody in Durango, at all. I happened to see that this band called Mike + Ruthy was playing there. They’re a husband and wife duo who play Americana folk stuff. I was like, “Whaaat?” This is a band I had seen probably eight times in Connecticut and upstate New York, and as far as I knew, they never played west of the Missi-sip. It blew my mind, but the show was sold out. I walked into Studio & and asked, “Any more tickets?” and they said, “No, but we’ll give you a call if anything opens up.” I walked into the parking lot and, how I remember it, a car pulled up, put their window down, and said, “Hey, you’re not looking for extra tickets to the show tonight are you?” and I said, “I certainly am,” and got a ticket.
That was my welcome to Durango.
So dang near day one, you loved Studio &? After that show, I started going to the opening parties. I was drawn to the people. I was drawn to the work that was being showed there. The first show I went to was a guy by the name of Scott Dye. He’s no longer there, but in the show, he had drawn all of the presidents in ski masks as if they were criminals. The creative energy, the artistic energy. I thought, this is my place. That was four-something years ago.
Secretly, I was like, I wanna be around these people. I want to be around this place. I love just popping in here when I’m walking downtown. It’s kind of my Durango dream to be invited to join as a member.
You had shown work at & before, yeah? Maureen May asked me to be a part of a show last November called “Still/Unstill,” and that was the first time I had ever shown any of my personal artwork. The feeling I got from that, the reaction I got from people responding to my work, really excited me and sent me in a creative direction I didn’t expect. That got me on the radar at Studio & as a visual artist.
How would you describe your visual art? I’m sure somebody has a name for it, but I’m just trying to pair words and images in surprising ways or in ways that will elicit a response. It can be humorous or contemplative, absurdist or surrealist. Some of them are more story-like, containing micro fiction, and some are one word to three words… I want to do arty memes where a phrase sticks with you because maybe it has a little more depth to it or is more provocative than the initial reading lets on.
Why micro fiction? I’m working in a medium that’s contained, spatially, to 16×20 inches or 11×17. There’s constraints there. It’s about how people will take in this work. No one is going to necessarily sit there with a piece that I do for too terribly long, so you kind of have to get in and get out.
It’s a really compelling medium to explore thoughts, theories, and ideas in a highly condensed manner. I think the shorter you get, the more impact each word has. I think of it as prose-poetry, or poetry in general, where the context that you normally would have in fiction, the what, when, where, why, who’s talking, who are they talking to, is stripped out. The context isn’t there so it allows the viewer to fill in those blanks on their own.
Is there a certain kinda potency in micro fiction? Charles Bukowski talked about why he writes fiction versus why he writes poetry. He said something like, when I want to shout, I write poetry. I think that’s how I feel right now. I’m writing 13-word or 100-word short fiction pieces to go with illustrations. The emotions can be more volatile, more impactful because of the length.
How do you want folks to experience your work?How I live my life, when I interact with people, I typically want to make people laugh. That’s my thing in life. To be lighthearted, funny, make jokes, and hopefully, when people walk away from talking with me it has been a funny, positive experience. I hope that my work does that. Spend five seconds looking at it and get a chuckle. Some of my pieces are straight-up absurd.
But also, in my fiction and essays, and hopefully in my visual work, my ultimate goal is to make you laugh and cry in the same piece. It’s the intersection of deep emotions and trying to elicit those through laughter and thoughtfulness.
Those two things – humor and sadness – are who I am. I don’t know where I heard it or who said it, but every day you should laugh and cry. You know?