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Hotshot #16

“I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma. My family was really into horseback riding and we owned a few horses, so that’s what kept us there. We’d always say, “We don’t want to move the girls!” But despite having a great group of friends and family, I never felt I was where I was supposed to be. I always had this image of living in a big city. It took my a while, but here I am, in Chicago!

I was coming into Oklahoma State right as the recession was ending, and I think that put some fear into me to choose the right major. Ultimately, I decided to pursue a business degree and along the way I took some entrepreneurship classes. During this time, @Toms was becoming popular and I was really inspired by their story. So I started making backpacks with a similar strategy, donating a backpack for every backpack sold. The idea wasn’t a huge success, but it was still a great learning experience.

For a while after graduating, I thought, “Oh no, what did I do?” I had an awesome time working for @TrekBikes in Wisconsin and getting into the cycling world, but still wanted to pursue something artistic. So after Trek, I moved to Tennessee to work for Blackberry Farm’s design team and work as a horse trainer, and both were an incredible experience. Eventually, I wanted to freelance with illustration and graphic design, so I decided to move somewhere with more opportunities and where I could go back to school. And somewhere colder, like Chicago.

I started illustrating a few years ago for friends’ weddings. I was always drawing when I was little, sometimes even on the walls and getting into trouble. Now I’m taking classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. My style has been influenced by apparel design. When I was at Trek, I was learning what it took to make graphics for apparel and I even used to sell baby onesies with my illustrations.

I just started drinking coffee in January, but now I probably drink way too much! I love the atmosphere and the friendliness of everyone. I love trying new drinks, so I tend to ask the barista to surprise me. One of my favorite coffee shops to work at is @ColectivoCoffee.

- Holly, Illustrator