Molly Bolding is a third-year English student at Sidney Sussex College, but when taking a look at her beautifully rainbow-coloured website, you can see immediately that that is far from all she does. In fact, I’m not quite sure how she has enough hours in the day for it all!
As well as being a full-time student, Molly works as an online tutor, freelance journalist, videographer, consultant and educator, whilst also operating her online shop, where she makes and sells all her own stationery, stickers, jewellery and online resources. She comes across as curious, enthusiastic, determined and optimistic, always looking to push herself creatively and try new things.
The Tab Cambridge spoke to Molly about all her creative endeavours, and the difficulties and opportunities for growth offered by the experience of being a young creative in the modern working world.
Lockdown projects: ‘It was time to try something new!’
Molly explained how she has always loved creating and wanted to carry on pursuing her creative interests in a way that worked for her: “I’ve always loved arts and crafts, but I was never any good at what I was taught in art classes at school – drawing and painting are really not my forte, as much as I enjoy them casually!”
And as the UK first went into lockdown in March 2020, Molly felt inspired to pursue these creative interests further, creating an Instagram account for her professional profile and following lots of other student creatives and small business owners. “I realised that, while I had time on my hands and a need for distraction, maybe it was time to try something new!” She used her newfound free time wisely to experiment and explore and it most certainly did not go to waste.
One of these lockdown projects was the creation of her online shop, where she sells badges, stickers, stationery and earrings. After successfully making her first products, she speaks excitedly about everything she has managed to create since then: “I put my first sticker set together on Procreate and it turned out much better than I was expecting, so I ran with it – now I’ve made stationery, pin badges and all sorts!” Honestly, the pictures speak for themselves…
Molly’s style and inspiration: ‘I wanted to create designs and products that felt genuinely joyful’
From one look at her social media, Molly’s artistic style is pretty clear as she describes it as: “One word – rainbow! In more words, bright, enthusiastic and authentic.”
She is inspired by bold, colourful designs and loves a good rainbow palette, so she was keen to incorporate these into her creative projects to create branding that really reflected her personality: “I’ve always liked bold colours and lines, so I look for artists who incorporate those aspects into interesting media.” She also added: “I particularly like knitted and stamp/lino print art at the moment, because they’re always bright and fun, without being too frivolous. Plus I love rainbows…. so I knew that I wanted to incorporate that into my personal branding.”
Molly’s main aim in her creative outlook is to be joyful, without invoking certain aesthetics she feels are problematic: “I’m not a huge fan of the whole ‘girl boss’ aesthetic, or of that slightly toxic ‘positivity at all costs’ thing – though each to their own of course – so I wanted to create designs and products that felt genuinely joyful, without feeling contrived.”
A jack of all trades: ‘I like to think that the more things I try, the clearer my most effective skills will become’
Molly talks about how she loves being busy – in as sustainable a way as possible – and continuing to expand her skillset: “I love being busy, though this last year has also taught me the importance of resting when I need it.” Molly has also been working from she was 15 in order to save for university and to support herself, she feels it is important to find new ways of doing so.
Although making her stickers, stationery, badges and earrings were originally just a fun pastime, she has continued to enjoy design since selling her pieces: “The art and design started as more of a casual outlet for some extra- creative energy, but – as with all of my hobbies – it has slowly been incorporated into my professional repertoire…”
When designing, she just tries to have as much fun with it as she can: “I love having a chance to mess around with colours and crafts; to make wearable, usable or play-with-able art that makes people happy.”
She reflects on how her experiences with lots of different kinds of creative work, from design, to journalism, to videography, have taught her how important it is to have a varied skillset: “One of the things I often say to people who want to freelance more is to diversify – one of the best things you can do is learn a new skill, whether its video editing or crochet, because it means you can adapt more easily to changes in circumstances.”
She is curious and willing to explore in order to keep expanding her skillset: “I like to think that the more things I try, the clearer my most effective skills will become.”
Developing as a creative: ‘I’ve learned so much from my creative work over the last few years’
Molly also works as a freelance journalist and she has loved the chance to experiment with her journalistic style over the years: “With my writing, I relish the opportunity to experiment with language and be true to my feelings and values in a more direct sense than academia affords – good journalism is in many ways subjective so developing my own voice and style took time but has been really enjoyable.”
She has an admirable desire to keep pushing herself to grow and learn more about her own writing style and voice: “I find writing of all kinds very fulfilling, and one of my goals for this year is to push myself to find new styles of journalistic writing to try.”
Her keenness to keep growing and trying new things is exemplified by the online course she created, which was published on The Indiependent last year: “It was my first piece of professional videography, which involved a lot of learning.” It felt: “great to work on something I know I would have found so useful when I was starting out as a student journalist and editor.”
Times past and times to come: ‘Say yes to the things you’re not completely confident about, because you’ll surprise yourself ‘
Molly reflects on what she’s learnt throughout her time freelancing in the creative industries but it´s not always easy: “Having a pitch for a piece you’re really pleased with rejected over and over again teaches you a lot – as does finally having it accepted!”
She’s also learnt a lot about herself and has experienced many obstacles, helping her become even better at what she does: “I would say a lot of what I have had to overcome has been barriers I put in my own way: taking on too much, having to learn to say no, not having confidence in my work.”
“Once you get past those, you can start to properly enjoy your work and take on/seek out opportunities to showcase your skills.”
When thinking about what she would say to herself as she was when she was first starting out, she emphasises that in her professional work, getting the balance right between being able to set boundaries for herself, but also knowing when to push herself out of her comfort zone, has been a key skill for success that she’s learnt along the way: “Say yes to the things you’re not completely confident about, because you’ll surprise yourself, and say no to the things that you know are not worth your time, because there will always be something else that is.”
Molly is looking to continue to grow creatively with the turn of the new year: “I’m trying not to put too much on my plate already this year, but I would really like to start 2021 off well by picking up some more opinion commissions, designing some new earrings and learning how to lino-print!”
And I think after 2020, we could all do with a little more rainbow colour in our lives.
You can see Molly’s portfolio and online shop on www.mollybolding.com and follow her work on Instagram (@themollybolding).
If you’re a creative from the University of Cambridge and you would like to be featured in the Creative Spotlight column, please email The Tab Cambridge at [email protected]
Featured image credit: Molly Bolding
All image credits to Molly Bolding