Interviewed by a Graphic Design Student

Oct 1, 2015 | Interviews


The other day, I was pleasantly surprised by an email I received from a student requesting to interview me. Nicole Jimenez is a graphic design student who will graduate next month from Full Sail University. One of her final school assignments was to interview a local graphic designer. Nicole selected me and I was happy to participate! She had some great questions, so I wanted to share the interview online in case it helps guide or motivate other design students.

Interview with Barbara Holland

by Nicole Jimenez

What originally made you want to become a graphic designer?

I always liked drawing and doing art type projects as a kid. Doodling and playing on my computer was also a favorite pastime of mine. As I got older and contemplated a career, it was a no-brainer for me that it had to be in a creative field and using computers. Graphic Design was the career path that was the most appealing to me, and the idea of having a job where I could create something new every day really excited me.

How would you describe your approach to design?

I like being organized and methodical. I live and work by my “to-do” lists and my calendar. So, for me the design process starts with having all the content, goals and timeline well defined. Then, and only then, will I start searching for inspiration, brainstorming and drafting a design layout.

Who or what has been the biggest single influence on your way of thinking?

My clients. As my company grows, there have been clients that have helped shape and define my business style and services.

What would you say is your strongest skill?

Probably being organized and responsible with my time. You’d think my strongest skill would be design, but in a world where everything is due yesterday, my clients always rave about being able to get the work done fast and efficiently.

What are you currently fascinated by and how is it feeding into your work?

Lately, I’ve been obsessing over finding unique and cool handwritten style fonts. I’ve purchased quite a few in the past couple months and I’ve been creating more design layouts around the typefaces I want to use, rather than about the graphics.

What are you passionate about besides your work?

Reading. I really enjoy reading fiction novels. I can spend hours getting lost in a good story.

Do you have any self-imposed rules that you live by?

I’m sure I have a few, but only one comes to mind at the moment regarding work. I am always completely honest to my clients about what I can and cannot do. I hate doing a sales pitch that overpromises results, so one of my rules is to be completely clear and transparent about my abilities and limitations.

What’s the best piece of advice you have heard?

Customer service is the best advertising tool. If you provide great customer service, those customers will get you more. And to this day, that’s worked for me. The majority of my clients are referrals.

What’s your personal motto?

Not sure I have one.

Which part of the design process do you enjoy the most?

When I’m looking for inspiration on what others have done before me. I’m always in awe of the amazing design work I find, and how that sparks ideas for me on how to better my own work.

How many projects do you touch on an average day?

About 5-7. I always have 1-2 big projects and about 3-5 small ones.

What are some common mistakes you see in portfolios?

The biggest mistake, in my opinion, is including everything and anything you’ve ever done. I think curating your work is very important. And also, including work in areas you’ve enjoyed and would like to continue to work in. For example, don’t include editorial design work, if you don’t want to end up in an editorial design job.

Would you rather see a website or a printed portfolio (or both)?

It depends. In most cases, I prefer a website portfolio. If the portfolio will showcase website design or artwork best visible on screen, such as logos, then a website portfolio is best. But if most of the portfolio showcases print work, like brochures, posters or flyers, then a printed portfolio is best.

And that’s the end of the interview… Thank you to Nicole Jimenez for inviting me to participate in her assignment! And, thank you to everyone who took the time to read this!

Nothing on this blog should be taken to constitute professional advice or a formal recommendation. Please read the full disclaimer.


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