My Instagram: Holly Nichols

Shannon Michelle Photography

While most Instagrammers use the medium to share snaps, Quincy native Holly Nichols, 24, fills her feed with original art in a different form. She posts original fashion illustrations on her account (@hnicholsillustration) inspired by style bloggers, the red carpet, and iconic fashion symbols that rack up the likes.

Q. What’s your background like with Instagram?

A. I grew up in Quincy and went to Endicott College to study studio art. When I graduated, I was working at a school as a special ed teaching aide, and at the same time I started my Instagram to post my sketches. It started getting noticed really quickly, and within the first month I had about 1,000 followers. I was originally just using it to show my work, but the traction from Instagram was leading to real sales in my Etsy store and for custom work. I’m doing [art] full time now, all thanks to social media. I feel really fortunate for it.


Q. How did you get started ?

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A. I started doing a lot of painting, watercolors specifically, in college. My freshman year I was an interior design major, and we had to use illustration markers to sketch the walls. It was boring to me at the time, so I started sketching dresses instead. So the next year I switched my major to studio art, studying figure drawing, painting, and sculpture.

Q. What inspires you?

A. For me, it’s a lot to do with the seasons. This past winter, we were inside a lot, so I was doing a lot of reading and staying cozy inside and you can see a lot of my illustrations are women bundled up in jackets or blankets. Now that it’s nice out, there’s a lot more air and looseness in my sketches.

Q. What was your first paid gig?


A. My first commission was for a boutique. I just did their logo, but the business has grown since then. I was at Fashion Week this past season working with TRESemmé, sketching backstage looks and hair during the shows.

Q. What’s your weapon of choice?

A. I use Copic markers. [Laughs] That’s the only thing I took away from interior design.

Q. How did you get started as an artist?

A. I’ve taken art classes since I was maybe 6. My parents enrolled me in classes in Quincy, then I started the art-focused program at North Quincy High. I also play the piano and I danced from ages 3-18. I guess I’ve always been creative.


Q. Where do you go to find inspiration in the city?

A. I was recently at the “Hollywood Glamour” exhibit at the MFA. It was cool to see the fabrics up close. I love traveling, though I feel like I haven’t been doing it much recently. I also love networking with other artists and having a group of other illustrators to chat with and bounce ideas off and talk about what stresses us out.

Q. Any artists we should know?

A. Katie Rodgers of Paper Fashion (@paperfashion) — it’s funny because I just finally met her at Fashion Week and I had a total fangirl moment. She works in watercolor but always tries out alternative mediums, pancakes, bubbles in the bathtub, puddles. It’s mind-blowing that she thinks of that and turns it into an artform.

Interview was edited and condensed. Rachel Raczka can be reached at rachel.raczka@
. Follow her on Twitter @rachelraczka.