“Australian in America. Adult impersonator. Ostrich Enthusiast. Educator & Occasional Artist. All funds from sold works go to procuring gourmet cheeses,” reads the Instagram profile description of James Houlcroft (a.k.a. Houl) – Australian artist currently residing in Annapolis, Maryland. I find humor in this profile description because it is so fitting for him and his personality. The thing I enjoy most about doing this series of videos and blogs is meeting the artists and getting a chance to know them better. Getting to know James was delightful, inspiring, and fun.
James Houlcroft has been a name floating around Annapolis art circles for the past few months. The buzz around him and his work are well justified. I met with James at The Commons (209 West Street), a shared workshop in downtown Annapolis, where I had the pleasure of watching his process and the beginning of a mural inspired by the characters from ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’. Drawing directly on the wall, each character was created with clean lines and details; the Commons logo on a laptop, green cross marks on a dress, the detail in the shoes. Viewing this piece was like reading a great book. The little details are just right and placed in the proper spots, making the story come to life.
Beyond his creative work, James is an educator, teaching English during the day. Merging his love for teaching and art, he incorporates art into his classroom, and his classroom into his art. Talking about inspiration, we discussed just about everything, from classic books to Stephen King to Norse sagas. Each of them playing a role in his style and projects.
Outside of his art, my favorite take away from our chat is his new found love for squirrels. Australia is not home to these little rascals (which I so adore). If you’re walking around town and spot an illustrated squirrel on cardboard, you can thank James for that!
When I ask him how he would like to be referred to, as an illustrator or street artists, he simply says, “artist.” Not confined to one title. I respect that. Welcome to Annapolis, James!
Catch more of James’ art on his Instagram page at @houlart
Videography and photos courtesy of Patrick McNamara of Drawn to the Image.