Posted in Attitude, Personal Life, Psychology, Uncategorized

Granny’s Coinjar

Surprise! I bet you thought my #thursdaythoughts were going to be posted on Thursday, right? Haha, fooled you!

Just kidding – I forgot. 
This past week I’ve been thinking a lot about my family, where I came from, and how it’s impacted my future.
My Granny’s birthday was this past weekend, so I’ve been thinking a lot of how she influenced the way I think. She’s a very elegant type of woman and it shows in the way she holds herself and talks.
When I was younger, I was really intimidated by her – which made the moments we shared together having fun 10 times more special. When she smiles or laughs, you know it’s genuine. One time, I managed to persuade her into playing Crazy 8’s with me. I remember her saying she thought it was going to be just a silly kids game, but it ended up having a lot of strategy to it and she really enjoyed playing it with me.
Fast forward to now, as an adult with a stepdaughter of my own, I see myself acting a lot like her. Granny was always pushing me to try new things and be independent – in a very not subtle way! I do the same with my stepdaughter and she’s told me Many times that she appreciates being pushed and the “tough love” (IE – when she asks me to do something for her, my typical response is, “Figure it out for yourself! You’re a big girl now!” I’m pretty sure those words came Straight from Granny).
I’m a pacifist and peace keeper by nature, so it’s a pretty big deal for me to Not help someone and come face to face with the possibility of confrontation. But I see the value in believing in someone enough to push them out there, believing they can do something. And then being supportive if they fail and encourage them to try again. My stepdaughter tells me she’s Much more independent since I came into her life because I don’t do things for her and push her to At Least Try.

My Granny never promised I’d succeed at the things I try, but I do remember her saying clearly, “You’ll regret it if you don’t try. Who knows, you might even enjoy it! What’s the worst that can happen anyway?” 

Imagine if we all lived with that attitude. 
Posted in Attitude

Cowboys Knitting on Horses

Thanks to my Dad’s amazing social skills, I’ve never had a problem talking to ‘strangers‘. I don’t even know if I’ve ever met a stranger.
It’s easy for me to talk with people face to face because they supply me with all I need to know about them through their facial expressions, body language, clothes, and whatever else kindof clue I can spot that tells me who they are, what they care about and how they like to be treated. When I talk to someone, my goal is to mirror all the potential I see in them back at them. Somehow, this has made me extremely lovable – what people don’t realize is, it’s not me they love, it’s the reflection of themselves.
To say I overlook any negatives about a person is probably an understatement – but also a bit inaccurate. I look deeply into ‘flaws’ and negatives about a person and investigate why they’re there and how it contributes to that person’s identity. 
For example, recently a friend and I were exploring Annapolis together and ventured into this Antique Bookstore. As we were leaving, we saw a book with a cowboy knitting a sweater on horseback. We thought it was so funny that we had to take a picture of it. We were pretty close to the checkout counter, and as we were giggling we heard a very stern German accent come from that direction:
“What do you think is so funny?”
We looked around half realizing there was someone even sitting at the desk who had been watching us the whole time.
“What are you laughing about?? What is funny?” She repeated, sounding obviously irritated.
I made eye contact with her, looked at my shrinking friend, and then decided to take action and involve her in our “treasure hunt” (<to be explained in a later post)
I grabbed the book and took wide steps over to her saying, “It’s this picture, don’t you think it’s funny?”
Now, since I lived in Germany for 4 years and been in love with Germany and German culture since I was 14, I already had a bit more insight than the average Joe. Germans are unapologetically straightforward and have a Very Distinct sense of humor. They love to be challenged. (I know I’m speaking in general terms and that there are exceptions to the rule, but… deal with it.)
She looked at me grimly above her glasses, and said, “No, I do not think it’s funny. Why would it be funny that a man is knitting on a horse? What else is there to do back then?”
Sensing my friend beside me growing all the more nervous, I grinned, “Well, I guess you have a point. They didn’t have phones back then.”
My joke went unnoticed and I had unknowingly stepped on a gender stereotype nerve with her where she had become irritated to young girls coming in and making fun of Men knitting. I listened to her as she very passionately spoke about how men have every right to knit and shouldn’t be laughed at because that only promotes the stereotype of “Men Shouldn’t Knit”.
Somehow, the energy shifted, she lightened up and said, “There are lots of books about men knitting, and I’ll show you one that IS funny…” She stood up from her desk and walked around towards the shelf. As she did, I was still smirking a bit and gently touched her shoulder, “But you have to admit, this picture is a little funny.” she grinned while walking, “Okay, yes, it is a little funny.”
We ended up staying there for I’m guessing a good 20 minutes talking with her about stereotypes, being independent, dogs, military life, and just enjoying each other’s company.
Her message was, “When you see someone doing something you think is wrong, like promoting negative stereotypes, you should approach them and challenge their thinking. Nothing will change if we don’t do this. Have an open conversation, don’t argue, but try to understand.”  Which, is right on with what I believed and exactly how I talked with her. I respected her opinions and tried to understand what was happening rather than running away in fear or getting angry.
I like to think this interaction inspired both of us and gave us an even warmer spot in our heart for people we don’t immediately understand.
Posted in Attitude, Design, Psychology, Uncategorized

Parellels: Freelancing vs Prostitution

Last October, I joined UpWork, which has been Amazingly helpful for keeping me motivated and helping me find work. I really do love the platform, the community, and the financial protection it provides.
I’m always seeing patterns and dots connect, keeping an eye out for trends. A few months and a few clients in, I had this observation.
It feels a lot like prostitution.

Prostitution – 

Stands on street corner with a bunch of other hookers looking for work
Competes with other prostitutes
Cheaper the rate – Cheaper the hoe – Dirtier the John
Classes of Prostitution – 
Hookers – Immediate service, safety concerns, Roll of the Dice on Who’s-Working-When, Inconsistent
Call Girls – Pay Per Minute, Quick Fix, Convenience, May or May Not get what you Want
Girl Friend Experience – All the Perks, None of the Commitment, Fake, Depending on how you “click” with them – could be good or bad
Escort – Personal Attention, Most Expensive, Better Reputation

Freelancing – 

Congregates on work platforms scouting clients
Competitive and sometimes secretive about rates / strategies
Cheaper the rate – Crappier the work – Jerkier the Client
Classes of Freelancers – 
One Stop Shop – Kindof Good at a bunch of things, Mediocre Work, Unreliable Results, Inconsistent
Nichers – Limited Skillset, Tunnel Vision, One Sided Conversation, Safer Results
Pioneers – Depending on how you “click” with them – could be good or bad, Open to New Ideas and Collaboration, Risky
Experienced – Personal Services, Knows how to play the game with clients in all factors, Highest Rates, Better Service, Lowest Risk
I’ve never been a prostitute, so the data is inconclusive, but this is the way I’d imagine it would be. I feel a bit more like a Call Girl than the Escort I was before I joined. I’m hoping a good paying Joh….err.. Client comes along soon!
**Note: I mean no disrespect to Prostitutes or Freelancers in any way. 🙂
Posted in Attitude, Design, Personal Life

Abstract : Germany

Abstract: The Art of Design sat in my queue for a few days because I was worried it might suck.
But I really wanted it to be awesome.
           Typically, I do other things with the tv on. But, I couldn’t look away – the graphics were so expressive, it was continuously pulling me in. Christoph Niemann’s subtle but hilarious micro-expressions, Camera angles, Explore inducing music – and then these awesome little marker drawings. It was all so fascinating to me, several times I caught myself smiling so hard it made me laugh.
Christoph is so incredibly articulate – He managed to put to words many of the things I feel so often.
            “We can’t just make a film about you at your desk the whole day.” Was one of the funniest things said in the episode. THE funniest thing was when he talked about picturing himself sitting in starbucks by the window, and how he imagined it would be the most inspirational place to work – but it wasn’t. It was the most impossible place to work. The things he says after being aware that his vision of himself as an artist and the reality of it are so very painfully accurate.
            Anyone that knows me, knows I love Germany more than any place on earth (though, Barcelona is a close second). My school didn’t offer German, so I tried to teach myself. I bought a “Learn German” kit with cassette, mini dictionary, and pocket dictionary.  I carried the pocket dictionary to school with me so I could study on my breaks – I cried when I left it in my pocket and accidentally washed it. My classmates teased me for loving Germany so much – “Commy Holly” they called me. That didn’t really bother me since I didn’t know what Communism meant. Plus, I didn’t feel like I needed their approval to love Germany and was always kind of ‘different’. I asked one of my favorite teachers what it communism was, she laughed and told me the other kids were stupid (paraphrasing) for thinking Germany was a Communist country.
I’ve always loved how the German language sounds and how I feel when I speak in it. I was living in Germany when they won the World Cup in 2012 and I could feel the national pride swell. I remember driving behind some sort of construction vehicle with a small German flag at the top of it’s antennae, it was impossible to hold back happy tears. (I don’t even watch/care about soccer.)
            The first time I came to Germany in 2001, I looked everywhere for a souvenir German flag, a German t-shirt, anything with the German flag on it and only found that kindof thing at the airport. When I asked my friends I was visiting where I could find German flags and such, they looked at me wide eyed and surprised. Then told me since WWII, they didn’t feel like they could show their pride. “If we show pride in our country, the countries around us might think – ‘Oh no, Germany is rising up again, so we have to stay low.'” At 15 years old, that was heartbreaking.
As an American, I can go to any gas station in any state in any town and probably find something patriotic. We take our pride for granted.
            I felt at home in Germany. It’s truly the only geographical place I can say I Feel that way towards. In the documentary, Christoph talks about that same feeling of being at home in New York and about ‘owning’ a place no one you know has been before. Unlike Christoph who says he was immersed in American culture growing up in Germany (with the presence of the military, there are quite a few “mini Americas” there), I grew up in Texas but never felt like I “belonged” there. The first time I went to Germany was with my parents – also the first time for me to fly – and my mom and I distinctly remember the feeling of getting off the plane. Everything seemed so much fresher, we could breathe better. I stayed behind for a few weeks to travel and I remember getting on the plane to leave… looking out the window, feeling like I was leaving my heart behind, trying to swallow the lump in my throat and breathe into the emptiness in my chest.
            When I got back, no one was teasing me about Germany. The whole attitude had changed because I had done something with my dream. It was no longer “Why would you want to go there???” But instead they just sat back and were more like, “…huh.” and slight embarrassment. I could tell they were curious – the look on their faces gave away that feeling of wanting to know more about something, but knowing so little that you don’t even know what questions to ask.
            I visited Germany 2 more times while in highschool. In 2011, my husband received orders to Germany and we lived there for 4 years. It was absolutely incredible and terrifying. Living in Germany was the biggest thing I had ever dared to dream – and there I was living it. After 2 years, I soaked up as much German culture as I could (which is difficult when you live close to a military base). I had mastered the art of blending in, anywhere I went the natives assumed I was German – and I could usually pull it off as long as I didn’t get too involved in conversation. I so happy every morning to look out the window and seeing the German flag flying over my landlord’s car port.  I knew that struggle to have pride again.
            By year 4, I knew the time was coming to an end as my husband’s tour was ending. I felt like I had been on a 4 year sabbatical to live my dream, reveal in it, and thrive in it which was more than I could ever ask for. And increasingly had the feeling of, “What do I do now? I’ve accomplished my biggest dream and I’m still alive. I guess I need to dream bigger.”
When I came back, I had more appreciation for being a ‘spoiled American’ and felt more patriotic than ever. Living in Germany somehow made me feel more connected to everything I know. I’m sure I’ll visit again someday – but until then, I have sowed away in my “mental Get-away” box memories of beautiful tree trails, castles, and the best bread in the world.
            I got a lot out of that episode and it sparked so many feelings – I’m still absorbing all of the things about design and life he talked about. If every episode is like this, it’s probably going to take me 3 months to watch the whole series. ;D
Posted in Attitude, Design

Typographic Darwinism

I had a dream the other night that they outlawed typewriter style fonts. Q.Q It was tragic.
Every time I hear “I can’t read the font” when I use a script/brush/cursive/fancy font, here are the things I think but NEVER SAY. Ever. But this is my blog, so I can say whatever the heck I want!
Client/Other Designers:
Looks nice (obligitory compliment to prep for the ‘but’ ) BUT the font is hard to read…
Internal Thoughts: 
Why the HELL are so many typographers making all these great brush/handwriting fonts if there’s no client ANYWHERE EVER that will let me use them? 
Can people not read cursive anymore? 
Do you think the general population is really that dumb?
If someone can’t read the font – do you really want to do business with that person? Maybe you should cater to smart people who can read cursive/letters that don’t look like comic sans?
Survival of the smartest I say! Let the dummies buy other things.
Take a chance – Since it looks AWESOME AND DIFFERENT -just maybe- people will take more than a second to look at it. No, you’re totally right. I’ll just make it look ‘clean&modern’ like every other freaking design out there.
Don’t ever say cleanandmodern to me again. 
*Note: I know, I know. Being legible is the primary factor in communicating. I will always be learning – maybe I’m not quite “there yet” to know the rules well enough to break them. I understand fully why businesses want things to be legible and ordinary to reach the biggest audience. And sometimes, they don’t really mean “I can’t read it” they mean “I don’t like the way it looks.” Which is totally fine. But, I believe there’s value in weeding out the ordinary to attract the extraordinary. 
Posted in Attitude

Good Feelings ’17


As 2017 gets closer (holy cow it’s tomorrow!) I’m having SUPER good feelings about it!  I’m feeling really good about the progress I made this year. Wow, what have I done?

The major milestones are: 

  • Solidified my identity as “Hello Holly Design”
  • Kept up with social media as such (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
  • Joined and Uploaded designs on those make your own stuff sites (Society6, Design by Humans, Zazzle)
  • Joined UpWork and made a bit of money with clients (so far around $800)Developed a semi-consistent schedule of working from 8AM – 4PM and sometimes 7PM – 11PM
  • Made some really good contacts
  • Started posting here and on WordPress
  • Updated my portfolio often to where now it looks pretty dang good.
  • Developed a comic identity with me and my little spider friends

I’m feeling really confident about carrying over my progress into the new year.

In 2017 I’ll be focusing on: 

  • Developing a followingConnecting with other artists
  • Making a Video Blog
  • Bringing in at least $2,000/Mo on Upwork
  • Developing my skills as a Brand Identity Designer
  • Design different “Series” projects for the design it yourself sites (I’ve written down quite a few ideas, but haven’t gotten around to actually designing them)
  • Stay consistent with updates on Patreon, WordPress, and Twitter

Good things are in store for 2017! I feel like it’s going to be my “launch” year for me as a designer! Woot woot!

Posted in Attitude


The internet is sometimes a bad thing – it’s way too easy to see ALL the competition out there. 
When I was just starting out selling things online and trying to build a following – I saw how many people were out there already doing it, and have been doing it for years.
It’s like starting a race when there’s already a mass of people at the half way point.
But then I watched the Ted talk by Tim Urban. Tim was called to do a TED talk before everything was perfect. 
Maybe the trick is to be open to being successful before the success is actually seen. 
Maybe the trick is just to try, get better, and share along the way.
Posted in Design

My Favorite Font – Aquawax

I’d like to take a moment to show my appreciation for one of my favorite font families – Aquawax.


I first found this font on and later investigated where it came from. There’s obviously a lot of time and love put into this font, so I wanted to make sure I gave credit where credit is due – Thanks Zetafonts!

Check out the full fonty goodness here.

Or check out all their great stuff at

Posted in Psychology, Uncategorized


It’s no coincidence that the most creative minds are usually the overthinking ones.
Worriers are usually the ones that make unusual connections between things and tend to see a situation from many different angles.
The problem: Anxiety over the unknown leads to indecision, procrastination, and paralysis. Too much effort funneled into thinking about “what could happen” is exhausting.
Adding to the problem: Advice from others, “Stop overthinking”. Then we put way too much energy into “stopping” or trying to force other methods to work, rather than trying to flow with our overthinkitivity to see where it takes us.
The Solution: Have faith in yourself.
Rationally, we ‘over thinkers’ know we think too much.
The trick is to be aware of our thoughts and channel our creative energy into doing – which is the best of all ways to learn. Most overthinkers consider themselves intelligent, it’s believing in that intelligence that matters.
Too many times doubt enters the equation, doubt of our abilities, our instinct, our judgment – while this is perfectly healthy and beneficial at times, too often it leads to getting stuck.
Therefore if we change the equation, we’ll change the results.
Overthinking – Doubts + Belief in Self = Boundless Creativity
Posted in Attitude

Experience Vs. Money

“If you’re good at something, never do it for free.” – The Joker & Business Advisers everywhere
This has been long standing advice for freelancers especially.  The problem with this advice is that if you really want to do something – chances are you’ll lower your price so that you can do that thing.
So which is really more valuable? The money or the experience?
Obviously the “right” answer is always the experience. But what about the practical side of things? Is it wise to lower your price and your value to get fun jobs? Or is this foolish generosity?
The answer is somewhere in between. Doing those fun jobs for less money will always help you develop your skills, provide more quality substance for your portfolio, and keep the fires burning. In my mind, these jobs are more of an investment.
In a world of quick fixes, I feel like I’m going against the grain quite a bit with this philosophy. But for me, trusting my gut is more important (and more reliable) than numbers.