Hey Holly, first of all, how are you?
Hey Megan, I'm fab thank you. How are you? I'm still in a buzz from the pubs reopening in all honesty, we can finally sit in a beer garden- wahoo! And thank you for reaching out to me as well, it’s a pleasure to speak to you for the blog. What you’ve got here is fantastic!
For those that do not know who is Holly Boden?
I’m a Graphic Designer based just outside of Leeds. I graduated from Nottingham Trent in 2019 and have been completing various design placements and working freelance until I find a permanent position. I’m really passionate about creating work that has a genuine impact on people's lives and using design as a platform for change - I find that all super inspiring. I’ve just started my little side hustle- The Print Store, which I’m loving. It’s a place where I can be creative with no restrictions or pressure.
When I’m not creating though, you’ll probably find me scrolling through a skincare blog or two. I love to bake and then eat it all, hence the need for skincare blogs. I’m a sucker for a true-crime doc or real housewives- (yep I’m not sorry about that). I love to laugh and I’m unashamedly inquisitive. I’ll ask all the silly questions and will always bring up at around 4.30 pm the topic of what people are having for tea.
Give us five interesting facts we may not know about you.
Erm, wow this tricky. I don’t think I’m very interesting and I promise I’m not asking for people to get their violins out here either, haha.
Right, well first off I make a banging brew, I haven’t had any complaints, to my face anyway. I’m also a walking contradiction of being a home bird yet wanting to travel and see the world.
This is a very controversial one but I HATE mashed potatoes.
Dublin is my favourite city. I come from an Irish family and Ireland has always been a big part of my life and somewhere we would go for holidays when I was younger. I love the buzz of the place and the welcoming atmosphere, I hope to live there for a short while someday. I have a cat called Meryl, she was dumped in a bag on the end of my street and we rescued her. I know she's only a cat but Meryl will never know the great impact she’s had on my family, especially throughout lockdown.
You were a student, do you have any advice for students who may be graduating soon?
Oh gosh, how long have we got! Haha. It’s obviously a very different time to graduate than when I did, albeit I think my cohort got about 6 months of “normality” before the pandemic.
First off, I think every single graduate across 2020 and 2021 should be so damn proud of themselves. You’ve had to deal with a whole lot and use those experiences to your advantage, resilience, adapting, grit, passion it is all good stead for fantastic things.
The one best thing I ever did really took some time out. A month, a few months whatever. Celebrate the massive achievement, relax and work on yourself a bit. I found anyway, a toxic environment, a massive rush after Uni to be the “first with a job” the “first in the best agency” the one “tutors acknowledge as the best student” the list goes on. Comparison is the thief of all joy and as soon as you take the time to slow down and stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and focus on you, you will fly.
I was told this by a wonderful lady 3 months after graduating and honestly, this was the best thing I ever heard. (besides the Sex and the City reboot)
“Someone might take 5 months to get where they want to be whilst for others, it might take 5 years but chill out because that’s their life and you can only live yours. Slow the hell down-it’ll all work out fine in the end.”
I noticed you have been to several agencies to intern. How important were these for you?
YES, YES AND YES. After graduating I knew diddly squat about what I wanted to do. Something that I come to realise is normal- most people feel like this. But what definitely helped was taking the time to explore different avenues and agencies. Figuring out what you don’t want to do is way more useful than staying put somewhere just because.
Another thing, NEVER work for free. I’ve done it and sometimes at the beginning you think that is the only way and you should take every opportunity. By all means, evaluate what is best for you and your situation. Please completely ignore me too, but agencies cannot get away with undervaluing young talent, robbing ideas and not appreciating you. Know your worth.
Leading on from this, how does freelancing differ?
I naturally fell into freelancing in between interns and due to the pandemic. It wasn’t in my original plan and I think with the current climate you’ve just gotta do what you need to do to get by. But back to what I said above, this is something I’ve tried and it helped to figure out that in fact, I prefer agency life. I need communication to keep me sane. Bouncing ideas of people and being in a creative team is something that I love and benefit from. For sure, there are pros, I love being my own boss and picking and creating work that I want to create, but the isolation of working on my own is not for me.
That being said, the University curriculum needs to massively move with the times. Tutors need to be teaching more valuable creative life skills, how to set up a freelance business, money and rates, contracts, interview prep. All things I’ve had to make mistakes on to implement them better. It sometimes feels like we’re paying £20 plus grand to be shown the magic wand tool and for me, that doesn’t cut it.
It would be interesting to see how many people would make the leap to freelance if they had more confidence in those areas from the get-go.
Tell us about the Print Store.
Ah, The Print Store! Another thing born off the back of the pandemic. I have a problem switching off sometimes and think that is from constantly not stopping at Uni, however, the Print Store came from just creating prints here and there on the side to help improve my tech skills. Things that I had no deadline attached to or had zero pressure to create. I’m massively shocked by the response already, I’m dead chuffed with how things are going and I have so many different ideas in the pipeline.
For my final question, what's next for Holly Boden?
Gosh, your guess is as good as mine, haha. I think the pandemic has shown just how unpredictable life can be so I’m trying not to think too far in advance. I’m such a heavy organiser and planner that the thought of not being in control over this past year has given me a slight twitch especially as I write this! My long-term goals are to hopefully land my first proper “adult” job, stay connected, network with industry and realise there is no pressure - it will all come in time. Travel the world too, and just be able to see everyone again for a big hug and a drink in the pub.