Earlier in 2022 we announced a partnership with Liverpool John Moores University to better connect students with digital and creative businesses. We have since worked closely with the university to nurture the next generation of creative talent in Liverpool.

Until recently, LJMU occupied a Shed here at the Creative Campus managed by Ian Mitchell, Senior Lecturer of Graphic Design and Illustration at the university. The aim of the space was to place graduates of his course in the heart of Liverpool’s creative community.

One graduate who shared this space was Holly Carter. Holly has recently secured her own space with Basecamp Liverpool – a creative co-working community in the Campus. We spoke to her about her career so far and how the collaboration between LJMU and Baltic Creative helped her forge her own path as a freelancer in the creative sector.

Thanks for speaking with us, Holly! Tell us more about your career so far…

I graduated from Liverpool John Moores University in 2021 with a first-class degree in Graphic Design and Illustration. Shortly after, I became the in-house designer for a mental health charity for 6 months.

During this time, I also worked at Ditto Coffee within the Baltic Triangle. From here, I began to build relationships which resulted in an internship, and multiple freelance projects. LJMU had stayed in contact and had forwarded a series of work on offer.

In October 2021 I was lucky enough to secure a workspace within the LJMU shed in the Baltic Creative Campus. This helped massively and enabled me to meet additional studios and designers. Everyone was helpful and welcoming, and I began to feel recognised within the community so I made the decision to go freelance full-time. Giving myself a few months to save, I left the charity in December and Ditto in April 2022.

Since graduating I’ve been fortunate enough to work with Wordscape, Kula Studio, Hopeful Studio, Black and Ginger, and The Mind Map. Now that my LJMU tenancy has ended, I rent a desk space with Basecamp.

What was the transition like, going from graduate to freelancer?

As I was very fortunate with the work I had secured before leaving Ditto, the transition was easier than expected. Nevertheless, it was still daunting! It wasn’t until those commissions had been signed off that I realised I was perhaps being slightly naïve.

Luckily, during this short period I managed to secure a couple of retained clients and had built stronger connections with the local studios. It was still hard work, as I worked seven days a week to ensure I had all work completed and assets to gain new clients, but it was and still is worth it!

How did Baltic Creative’s relationship with LJMU help you during your studies or post-graduation?

Baltic Creative’s relationship with LJMU helped massively. I think without it, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to go freelance. It was very evident by being given the space, that both the University and Baltic Creative wanted us to succeed. I believed that as a graduate, people would think of me as inexperienced. However, studios, freelancers and clients liked my ideas and process. They wanted to work with me, and the workspace within Baltic Creative emphasised that I was professional and serious.

What are the benefits for students that the two organisations have this relationship? Why do you think this is important?

I think there are huge benefits to these two organisations having a relationship. Towards the end of my university experience, despite receiving good grades and feedback, I was still lacking confidence. By being active within the creative community, I realised that I wasn’t on my own, and others did want me to succeed. I was welcomed wholeheartedly and offered additional support if needed. Now I’m settled, renting my own desk space and continue to work with multiple studios and clients within the Baltic.

How did you decide the Creative Campus would be an ideal base for you?

When I first moved to Liverpool, from down South, I was told by tutors and lecturers to “get down to the Baltic Triangle” whilst looking for a part-time job as it was the Creative Hub of Liverpool. Being in the Baltic, and then moving to the Creative Campus, ensured that if a possible project became available, clients would know where I’d be.

How have you found your home in the Creative Campus so far?

I’ve really enjoyed being in the Creative Campus. It’s great having the choice to either work from home or walk over to the Campus. I feel fully settled, and believe I’ve secured additional projects by being located there.

What do you find most inspiring about working in the wider Baltic area?

I feel recognised and respected as a freelance graphic designer, and a part of a wider community and appreciate the connections and friendships I’ve made.

What tips would you give to graduates hoping to launch their freelance career?

I would network and take time to develop skills outside your practice! When I first graduated, I believed I wanted to work in editorial and publication design only. This has changed dramatically. I now specialise in branding, social media marketing, editorial and publication design. I’d trust yourself and the process too; everyone must start somewhere!

Holly’s work is available to view on her website and via Instagram @hollycarter_design. You can also contact Holly directly for commissions by emailing hollycartersheen@outlook.com