The Natural

Artist Brad Holland, who illustrated this month's cover story, "A Texas Survival Kit," talks about inspiration and tornados.

Illustrator Brad Holland’s tornado piece, featured in this month’s story “A Texas Survival Kit,” provokes an ironic smile. But Brad Holland does not create art with people’s reactions in mind. “I don’t think about it,” he says. “If you try to consciously provoke an emotion, you are faking it.” Instead, Holland draws inspiration from life’s stories around him. The artist grew up in the Midwest, and watching tornados and experiencing floods were practically Holland’s spring pastime. He remembers listening to his town’s loud tornado sirens and hiding in the house while his father would go outside to watch the twisters. Here he talks about inspiration and art. How were you trained as an artist and an illustrator? Did you choose the position, or did the position choose you?

Brad Holland: Well, I never thought about being an illustrator. I just knew I wanted to be an artist, and I knew I had to make a living. If there was a shorter distance between two points, I couldn’t think of it at seventeen. I never went to art school. I quit taking art classes in the tenth grade. They weren’t teaching art; they were teaching attitude. And since I already had an attitude,

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