Popping Pills with Will Holmes

Portland-based illustrator contributes to ADC 95th Annual Awards campaign

The ADC 95th Annual Awards are here! Yes, the Call for Entries for one of the oldest and most respected industry award shows in the world has been launched, with the help of BBDO New York‘s “Rare For A Reason” campaign, featuring beautifully designed ads which highlight just how uncommon it is to win a top honor. 

To create the campaign, BBDO New York tapped into the talents of various artists from around the world. We at ADC love to shine the spotlight on creative talent, and so we will be featuring the artists throughout the Call for Entries season.

Our next featured artist: a gifted Portland-based  artist who’s “never happy” with his creations.


Portland. OR



How did this crazy career of yours begin?

I’ve drawn from a really young age. Well, everyone draws from a young age, but I just loved it more than the other kids so I kept at it. I enjoyed it more than anything else, so going to art school seemed like the only real choice for me. I toyed with the idea of pursuing a career in figure skating for a little bit, but a severe lack of talent soon put a stop to that. Anyway, Norwich School of Art grew my love for typography, and here I am today.

How would you describe your illustration style?

I wish I had a really good answer to that question, but I don’t. I’ve been getting closer and closer to a personal style that I can be proud of, but I’m still not there yet. I’m starting to wonder if I’ll ever be happy. I doubt it.

Walk us through this project. How did you get from BBDO’s instructions to the concept to the finished product?

BBDO gifted me with the factoid, and I wanted to do something with the letters being made out of the little groove that pills have cut into the top. But after hours and hours of trying to make it work, the words just would not pop out enough, and a poster without a readable headline is a pretty shitty poster. So we netted out at this much easier-to-read final outcome, but I just wish I could’ve made that original idea work.

I started with a sketch, then took that into Illustrator to make the letterforms, then into Photoshop to fiddle until it was final.


Any thoughts on the finished work?

Like I said, I’m never happy! I do like this poster, but there are a few ‘bits’ that aren’t quite right — a swoosh here and there. But that’s my own fault, I spent too much time trying to make the pill grove idea work!

What other kinds of projects do you have on the go right now?

Well I just finished up a video for Nike where I made a ton of lettering, and I have a couple of murals in the not-too-distant future. But I love what I do because at any time there’s a chance that some fun project will just pop up. Aaaand there’s always some arse who emails to ask if I’ll do something for free. No. No I won’t. Bugger off.

What would you rather do, win an ADC Cube or live to 110?

I actually heard that ADC Cube’s CAN help you live to 110. I can’t remember where I was when I heard someone say this, but I think it was when I used to live in Brooklyn. Guys were hustling for them to prolong their lives – I believe it’s something to do with the alloy used in the Cube, or the way it reacts to human skin, or something like that. I don’t know. But I really want one.

The ADC 95th Annual Awards Call for Entries is now open.