Paper Hands

We chat with the lovely Holly Neilson aka. Paper Hands about the pros & cons of being your own boss, working towards her first children’s book, and the importance that her morning routine has to her practice.

Talk us through a typical working day for you right now.

I will usually start my day with a yoga class and then get a strong strong coffee straight after it, haha. Doing something to connect with myself before I begin my creative work is really important for me. By about 7:00am I will start illustrating. I find I’m most creative in the morning, so I focus on using this time for studio work. Then by the afternoon, I will work through emails and admin jazz. I try to avoid working at night, as I am typically a deadweight by this point.

What are some of the best and worse parts of your job?

Hmm..I’m going to go with some dot points to answer this.

Some of the best parts:

  • being your own boss;

  • creating your own structure/working hours; My day can start and end at different times, based on the projects I have on in that week. It’s always changing.

  • The diversity and the unknown. My working week is always different and ever-changing which I really enjoy and genuinely get excited for what could land in my inbox each week.

  • It’s incredibly purposeful and that makes it incredibly rewarding.

Some of the worst parts:

  • Having no sick leave entitlements (I do truly miss getting paid to have a sniffly nose, haha)

  • Being your own boss (kind of works as a good thing and a bad thing at times); it can be hard to manage your schedule when you have a lot on. Sometimes I find managing my timetable and workload tricky

That’s all the cons I can really think of. I don’t really hate any aspect of this gig. It’s pretty cool most of the time and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Design work by Paper Hands The Design Kids interviews Paper Hands work-2

How did you develop your style as an illustrator and what tips would you have for others?

I think as soon as I left school, and didn’t feel as bound to set criteria for my art, I felt like I could create whatever I wanted in my true, authentic style and preference. Once I started to really tap into my own, honest thoughts and experiences, I felt like my style followed. Now I just keep practices new ways to take my style into different areas of work.

What's on the cards professionally and personally in the next 12 months?

Hopefully I will be working towards my first children’s book. It’s a very nerve racking time, as my sample pieces are currently in the process of being approved by a publisher. So anything could happen at this stage - fingers crossed though! I would also love to share or work in a seperate studio space of my own, so I am hoping something cool pops up. I’d also love to start a clothing label soon. There’s always a lot of ideas going on, but these are the major ones at the moment.

Design work by Paper Hands The Design Kids interviews Paper Hands work-4
Design work by Paper Hands The Design Kids interviews Paper Hands work-4

Doing something to connect with myself before I begin my creative work is really important for me.

How did you name your practice and what does the name represent to you?

It was really random lightbulb moment. I was drawing outside one afternoon and I remember the name popped into my head after using up a bunch of my parents fresh printing paper for silly doodles. I work quite practically with paper and my hands too, so when I'm illustrating I always like to start with paper and my hands of course do the rest. I guess it represents my creative process mostly and staying simple with making things from just your hands and a creative thought.

Any hilarious stories about you as a kid being creative?

I was pretty average at drawing when I was younger…I remember my older sister (who was quite good at it) inspired me to start practicing drawing after we starting a ‘drawing competition’ series. I remember for one competition she drew our pet rats and they were perfect. She won the game easy. I was completely smitten by her work that I decide to learn how to draw her rat illustrations. I remember only drawing rats for a good year after that comp — I couldn’t stray from the concept.

Design work by Paper Hands The Design Kids interviews Paper Hands work-6
Design work by Paper Hands The Design Kids interviews Paper Hands work-6

Where to find Paper Hands online.

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