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Talking Life & Art With Kristy Elley

Updated: Nov 7, 2019

I had the pleasure of reconnecting with Kristy from helloHOLT recently after purchasing one of her beautiful prints I Spy With My Peacock Eye. Always inspired by her creativity and entrepreneurialism I asked Kristy if she'd share some of her story.

How did you get started as an artist?

From a young age I was always a favourite in art class, and recall as far back as year 3 my teacher suggesting that I go to art school. Art school wasn’t something my parents encouraged, but despite that, I have never stopped creating in some form.

As a young adult I worked in so many roles across the hospitality, retail and fashion industries, but have somehow always found a creative niche in all of my jobs…even if it meant writing the chalkboard menus! I guess you could say art, or being creative, was always calling me!

Full-time art practice started for me in 2009 when I had a freak accident but walked away with minor scratches (meanwhile my poor car got pulled out of a dam!). This was the trigger for me to use the talent I’d been gifted with instead of spending my life rushing around in jobs that didn’t make me happy on that deeper level.

Kristy Elley from helloHOLT

How would you describe your business today?

Evolving. I’m always looking to the future and researching trends, ideas & ways to increase my profile and visibility. I spend a lot of time on my business, not just in it, and continually make small investments to keep things fresh.

I always challenge myself and try to follow new leads & ideas – which makes for a busy, busy world! Sometimes my efforts don’t generate instant results, but I take the approach that most things are trial and error, and everything is a learning experience - with both creating new stock to sell and with marketing your brand.

Time management, and relying on check-off lists, is the only way to keep the momentum flowing if you are result-driven… like me!

What's your favourite project at the moment and why?

I have my fingers in a few pies, with some upcoming exhibitions mapped out for 2018. My favourite ever project would be one I completed last year (but one that continues to evolve!). I designed and created Muster Point with my wife, Tanille. So I am now Kristy Elley, but still signing my art as HOLT :)

The location for Muster Point (@musterpointcollective) was a once run-down 1940’s 2 storey building, that we sunk a heap of money into (thanks to ANZ!) to expose and honour some original art deco features, but bring our own personal flavour into the mix. It now features dynamic high contrasting black and white throughout, with a sprinkle of raw exposed brick, and custom-made industrial chic fittings (designed by us!) Oh, and did I mention it’s a commercial space, now home to hairstylists, a barber, and two makeup artists?!! With an adjoining courtyard with its own food truck!?

Muster Point is my favourite project for so many reasons - working together with Tanille on the flow and functionality (as non-hairstylists!), co-ordinating all the tradies and design of the fittings, and then adding the final aesthetic touches, using visual height and directional line.

The project wasn’t without its hiccups, with some things simply having to be done twice!! It became a running joke between us. We just had to take things day by day, and accept that not everything goes to plan!

Muster Point

What inspires you?

I find just heading out somewhere new is my inspiration - usually on foot so I can really explore and see things for the first time (even things I just hadn’t noticed before)… It could be something in nature, or architecture, or a great window display. Even lyrics from a song playing at the time…All the external elements saying ‘look at me today’!!

What are your favourite kinds of art and design?

Usually the most simplest of art - things that look a little unfinished or unplanned - catches my attention. I have a piece by Erin Flannery (purchased from a QLD gallery) at home. I love it for its black/white/grey palette, its rawness, and subject (being portraiture).

If I could pick a famous artist, it would be Brett Whiteley. There is an intelligence behind his work (despite the drug abuse!) where he captures ’movement’ so well. As an artist I can imagine his ideas flowing with raw spontaneity and through being truly ‘in the moment’, to create one-of-a-kind masterpieces!

If someone reading this would like to become an artist or designer what do you recommend is the best way to get started?

I think if there’s a will there’s a way. If the desire is strong enough you can find a way to make it happen. I knew I always had a gift, so it was about nurturing it and taking a risk to claim it (finally!). The responsibilities of adult life often pull you away from the creative world, but there are ways to carve out a career if you want it bad enough.

We live in such an ‘instant’ world now, which has both good and bad aspects. Some people seem to get lucky with the right ‘influencer’ launching them overnight, even if they don’t appear to have invested much time or money into their craft or profile.

This can be disheartening to those a little less brave, less lucky, and more time poor from working damn hard to make it. But investing in your talent, for example completing a design course (as I did with ISCD), and chipping away at building a profile through exploration, learning and evolving, are the steps to becoming a full-time creative… For those, like me, that have had to chip away slowly, you really have to have made some early investments to financially support yourself - or have wealthy parents! No offence to any of your readers Kyla, I so would’ve taken a hand out if I was offered one! So in conclusion… stop thinking about it and act now! Life is passing you by!

What would you say are the top 3 skills needed to run your own business successfully?

Endurance, willingness to take risks, and organisation.

If you could take on any project next what would you like it to be?

Ah, this is a toughy… as a total dreamer I could say… painting an Ellen Degeneres’ portrait!!

But realistically, I would say another large-scale interior design transformation. Where you really bring your visualisation from ‘drab to fab’ as they would say! Next time I would consider including a helloHOLT mural! I’d love to paint something really impacting and ‘in-your-face’ bold!

Can people get in touch with you and see your work?

Yes! For your daily visual fix, I can be found on Instagram & Facebook (@helloholt). My website is shop ready with helpful art tips and details of other projects I’ve completed:


Kristy and Tanille

Photos © Lazybones & HunterHunter

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