October 24, 2023 • Posted by Design Bay Area
Hollis Callas, an independent designer and illustrator, responded to the city of San Francisco and Department of Elections call to reimagine the “I Voted” sticker and received 1st Place. Learn more about the program here! We interviewed Hollis to learn more about her experience as a designer in The Bay Area.
Who is Hollis Callas?
When asked “Who is Hollis Callas?” she responded by saying she is a creator who advocates for nature, hoping that her work encourages others to slow down and notice the natural world around us. “My art is inspired by a boundless curiosity for nature and an appreciation of its beautiful subtleties. With a focus on flora and fauna, I hope my work sparks a similar awe and admiration in others by encouraging them to become more thoughtful stewards of the wild things that make our Earth so special.”
Hollis, who originally hails from Georgia has lived in San Francisco for the past 10 years. She was raised in a creative environment (her mother is a fabric designer and her father a woodworker) and was exposed her to different forms of art and craft. She and her family had a love of nature and as a kid she would spend her free time exploring the outdoors, playing in the dirt, studying insects and plants. She attended art school to study both Ceramics and Art Education at the University of Georgia and taught art in the U.S. and Spain before deciding to continue her education to study Graphic Design.
She says she never expected to be an illustrator when she started out but she made a conscious decision to share more of her work on social media. “I started posting my work which I found very difficult at first because vulnerability is hard.” Her first illustration gig came from Urban Outfitters after seeing one of her posts. “That was the moment I realized how important it is for a creative to be vulnerable and share work, even if they don’t feel fully ready to!”
We asked Hollis how she started Hollis Callas as a full-time business and she said after working for a design firm for years, she accepted a design position in Seattle but the pandemic changed everything. “During the week of our scheduled move, I was laid off and San Francisco went into lockdown. I decided to embrace the shift in my career path and start my own business. Previously I didn’t have the courage to pursue it, but the series of events which took place was the kick in the butt I needed to move in that direction.”
Process, Productivity and Tools of the Trade:
Hollis says “I generally start my creative process with lists and writing and then I dive into sketching. I digitally illustrate in Procreate with iterations, color exploration and experimentation.” Her favorite productivity tool is Evernote: “I organize all of my projects and feedback and it allows me to stay organized as I balance many different tasks at once.”
Who has been your most important mentor?
“I have had many influential people in my journey, but as of late I am having immense gratitude for my peer mentors. I have a monthly accountability check with my dear friend who is also a working artist, Alexis Viele (@paperforthepeople) in Brooklyn, NY.”
Hollis says they structure their meetings once a month to discuss happenings, goals, challenges and hold each other accountable for moving their creative businesses forward.
“It’s been such a help to have a connection with someone on the same creative path.” Hollis has also found community in her own neighborhood with other badass women entreprenuers who she’s been able to lean on for guidance and support. “Working alone can be isolating so I feel fortunate to have a creative community nearby.”
What time of the day are you most productive?
“I am a morning gal through and through. I feel so inspired at the start of the day. I usually start my morning with yoga and a walk in the park with my old lady dog, Mamut, with a chai in hand. Taking in nature first thing in the morning really sparks my creativity for the rest of the day!”
What experience has recently inspired you?
“Snorkeling with California Sea Lions in Baja California Sur! They are such amazing creatures and really cracked open my curiosity to all the incredible marine life out there we have yet to explore.” She wrote an article about her experience that highlights details for anyone else interested in doing the same.
What accounts are you following?
Where can we find you?
Know a Bay Area Designer or Creative who should be featured in our “Getting to Know You” Series?
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About our Getting to Know You Series:
Design Bay Areas Getting to Know You Series shines a light on individual members of the local regional design community to create deeper connections. Through the series learn about the processes, favorite tools, professional paths, and what inspires! Say “Hi!” and strike up a conversation next time you see them at an event!
Photos and Images courtesy of Hollis Callas