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.
Posted in Uncategorized

Start Where You Are

Sometimes, … A Lot of the time… getting started is the hardest part.

Where do I start? What do I do first? How do I do it? Does this suck? Why do I need so much affirmation to feel okay?!

These and many more are the looming questions I have over my head right now that I’m consciously ignoring just so I can get something out there.

My overly optimistic side says to me, “If you put it out there and it sucks, then it can only get better! Go ahead, put out the sucky stuff first and tweak it. Let people see the transformation.”

The overly critical side, “Don’t put things out until you’re ready! Do you want them to know you have no idea what you’re doing and you’re just making it up as you go along? There’s no way they’ll trust you that way.”

I feel like I’m finally finding a balance of the two extremes of pull the trigger even if you don’t know where the target is and wait until you figure out how to build a gun before you fire it.

The balance is in movement itself.

Posted in Personal Life

Interview with Myself

Xanga, LiveJournal, chatrooms, blogs, forums – I used to be heavily involved in social media and didn’t think too much about what I was putting out there, but it was easy and passionate and awesome. …at the time anyway.

It’s been about 8 years or so since I’ve had any kind of consistent blog, so bare with me. I think the easiest way for me to start is with an interview with myself:

Q: Holly, why in the world do you want to blog again? 

A: Initially to network and connect with people. Most of my clients I rarely meet in person and maybe this is a good way to personify myself  to others a little bit better than just an email address.

Q: Why did you think a blog would help you with that? 

A: My longest standing ever so patient client David Deeble told me it was a good idea to have a blog – he’s the most successful juggler/comedian I’ve ever known or heard of so it seems like sound advice. (…ok, so I don’t know that many juggler/comedians – beside the point.)

Q: Why are you a Graphic Designer? 

A: I love colors, fonts, and shapes. Lines, contrast, hues, tones, alignment, composition, grids, asymmetry – it’s all pretty magical to me. I’ve tended to fall in place for those people that don’t find it so magical or just don’t have time for it. It’s the perfect balance of contribution and creative outlet for me.

Q: What do you want people to know about you? 

A: I really enjoy people. I see myself as a superhero. I’m a bit mystical, a bit beatnik, and a bit overly idealist. I’m kindof a Gypsy/Joplin/Poppins mix.

Q: A superhero. Right. All superhero’s have a weakness, what’s your cryptonite? 

A: Time. I don’t understand time at all. It’s one time one place in the world and a completely different time in another place?! What is that wizardry? Don’t even get me started on Daylight Savings Time. Or anything with numbers really- Brian, my husband takes care of the financial side because numbers are just shapes to me. I’m fully aware of my shortcomings and where I need to improve (see above). The biggest obstacle by far is time management. Thanks to working with one of my best clients, Rick Lewis (motivational speaker/entertainer), I learned the most effective way to overcome this is to just start immediately and don’t stop until I have something to send. That takes extreme discipline.

Q: What will we be reading about in your blog? 

A: Mostly how I work to improve my work methods and myself. I will try just about anything to get myself out of a rut – usually saving the most obvious simple solution for last, because I see myself as just a life sized test subject. I’ll most likely be blogging about how to balance life and work when it’s all muddled together. Ulterior motive: Sometimes I get stuck in a project and don’t know where to go with it, then I get stuck in paralysis for a few days in anxiety ridden terror that I suck at what I’m doing. Writing comes pretty easy to me, so I’m hoping if I have something ‘easy’ to update, it will give me some momentum when I’m stuck in the mud.

Q: Will there be pictures? Sometime I don’t feel like reading.

A: YES! Even though I’m well typed and don’t need spell check too often, one of my goals is to create visuals without words where people just “get  it”. Possibly some poetry, scrap art, things like that.

Q: Anything else? 

A: I’d like to throw this out there – a big Thank You to my parents who’ve always supported me, even when I didn’t know it. Both of them encouraged me to develop creative outlets and go with my own inspiration (which, probably bit them in the butt more than once).

Q: Aww, that’s sweet. But aren’t you forgetting someone? 

A: AND a huge thank you to my husband Brian (who gave me the idea to pursue graphic design in the first place!) and stepdaughter Rachel for supporting me to keep going and keep creating – even when they have to make their own dinner, or I have to skip movie time, or I get grumpy because I’m having trouble figuring something out. Thanks to you both for your patience and encouragement. ❤