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A conversation with Holly Ann Friesen

Wednesday, November 11, 2020


painting by Holly Ann Friesen

Holly is an artist working and living near Kenora, Ontario. Her work can be seen at various galleries in Southern Ontario. She has been working full time in her art practice for the past 15 years.

After taking sciences at university and working in research for several years, she moved to Northwestern Ontario and decided to pursue art. With fewer opportunities to work in the field of science, she created her own art practice. She's been working full time as an artist, even on bad days, and developing her own unique style.

Holly had a gallery space in Kenora for six years. It was a place where she could meet new people and she found it satisfying. She sold a lot of work and could connect with customers face to face. She had a website selling work online starting in the Spring of 2020.

Due to the pandemic, Holly closed her gallery in the summer of 2020. It was a small space and with social distancing, no more than one person besides herself, could be in the gallery at any one time. Her husband is a physician and advised her that the COVID-19 pandemic was going to last for a long time. She decided to move her work online and made the decision to close the gallery and she worked hard to set up her online store.

Holly describes herself as practical and to that end, she has diversified her efforts and now sells her work in galleries in Southern Ontario, on social media and on her website. She enjoys the business aspect of her art practice.

During normal times, Holly was doing up to 50% of her sales in her gallery. There were a lot of summer tourists where her gallery was located. Since it closed, her sales are now distributed evenly across social media, sales through her gallery representation and on her website.

Holly grew her Instagram following of 12.6K, by posting regularly, networking and reaching out. She loves the visual and personal aspect of using Instagram, while Facebook did not feel like the right fit for her.

Holly's style came together quickly since she knew that she wanted to work in abstraction with flat colour and hard edges. Her studio looks out on trees and water with light shining through the branches. Her working environment helped to inform her style and subject matter.

When asked if she had any advice for emerging artists who want to be successful, Holly offers the following:

  • always do your best 
  • think about who your target is and what you want to do 
  • always push your work forward 
  • ask yourself, what do you want your career to look like
  • keep getting your work out there 
  • be yourself 
  • you are a unique set of eyes and hands 
  • keep working even on bad days

Follow Holly Ann Friesen on Instagram  or visit her website at