Local Artist Spotlight: Nicholas Holman

A conversation with local artist Nicholas Holman on getting started in the field, the creative process and his TikTok blow up.


Nicholas Holman

The Basilica painting that gained Holman 30k TikTok followers overnight.

For those on TikTok, the handle @nicholasholmanart may sound familiar. Beautifully painted scenes of Saint Louis landmarks have popped up on many local’s “For You” page in the past month. In what Holman calls his “September Series,” a painting from life is documented each day alongside a soothing play by play or ASMR audio. But what does the journey of artist and TikTok celebrity Nicholan Holman look like?


In 2015, Holman started his artistic career by deciding to draw his own tattoo. “Let me just say, the drawings were horrendous and I am glad I did not get them tattooed on me,” Holman said. But the act of starting, picking up the pen and beginning to create made something click in the artist’s brain, and he hasn’t turned back since. 


From there, Holman started looking for schools in the St. Petersburg, Florida area where he was currently living. Ringling College of Art and Design, a “world renowned” hub for creativity, happened to be just an hour away. Quickly, and with little research, Holman found himself embarking on a journey of study that has served as his foundation for “being able to discover what I was looking for, what I liked…even though I almost dropped out after day one.” But for another year and half he kept going. Ringling gave Holman the education to be able to go out and discover what he needed to find his footing in the art world. 


Although Holman did not have the stereotypical start to his artistic career, he has managed to establish a career exploring a wide range of mediums and techniques. From majoring in illustration and mastering gouache, all the way to working with the unpredictable watercolor, Holman acknowledges his own need to tap into different parts of himself through each medium’s specific challenges. “It is super crucial to keep my brain fresh because if [you] keep doing the same thing from the same position in the same angle, [you] are not going to be creating super interesting work,” Holman says. 


In the theme of challenging himself, Holman has asked his social media followers for challenge suggestions to keep his audience engaged. Ideas of blind painting, memorization of subjects and a monochromatic palate have led to some exciting prospective ideas for Holman.


Social media is not only a way for Holman to engage with his followers, but to continually build a fanbase. On Sept. 9, 2020, Holman gained 30,000 Tik Tok followers overnight following his painting of the Saint Louis Basilica. Since then, not only does the artist feel the warm support from his fans behind the screen, he’s being recognized in public spaces and building connections with local fans. 


In a quippy anecdote, Holman told the story of a follower bringing him a coffee after seeing his painting location on a live video. “They may all start online, but are now transitioning to a physical realm…I get to meet these people.” 


Long term, Homan’s goal is to “travel and post ‘I’m in Chicago or wherever, who’s gonna come out, what should I paint?’ That’s a big goal,” Holman says. 


A self proclaimed work junkie, Holman’s work is truly his passion. Beginning his days early and working late into the night because, as the artist put it, “it’s all I want to do.” A combination of pursuing a career that is both fulfilling and provides stability is Holman’s objective. Constantly thinking of new ideas, the artist admits to texting himself ideas in the middle of the night so as to not forget a mid-slumber inspiration.


Fans and followers of Holman have lots to look forward to in the coming weeks. On Sept. 28, Holman will release his prints and originals for sale, wrapping up the September Series. Those, and other pieces for sale, can be found on his Etsy shop or website. And what will next month’s series be? A fifteen painting spooky season series that will include cemetery plein air. Yes, for the obvious October theme, but also to showcase the beauty Holman sees in cemeteries, both historical and artistically. 


Whether he’s crossed a “For You” page, Instagram discovery page or this is your first introduction, Holman is one local artist you won’t be soon to forget. From beautiful landscapes to calming videos and messages of empowerment, Holman’s wholesome content provides some much needed good in the world.