maker: aileen holmes


some little girls dream of being barbie- but aileen holmes just wanted to style her.  today’s maker is an illustrator, graphic and textile designer who worked her skills as a mini-maker (she sketched and sewed new doll looks as a kid) into a full-fledged career.   meet the maker who has worked for polly pocket, spongebob and the blonde with a pink corvette…

introductions please.

hello! i am aileen. i was born and raised in orange county and still live here–in costa mesa!

what do you make or do?

 i create many things. i studied fine art and fashion design- and that combination permeates throughout my work.

my illustrated and painted art pieces are shown in galleries all over southern california. i also sell t-shirts, screen prints and prints of my artwork on etsy (and occasionally at indie craft shows).

illustration aileen holmes

i also lend my graphic design and illustration skills to the fashion industry and creative entrepreneurs–designing t-shirt graphics, textile designs, marketing pieces and fashion/accessory design.

where can we find your creations?

on my website, etsy or my facebook page

how long have you been creating and is it your full-time job?

what i created as a little kid has totally turned into a “real” job: i used to sew my own barbie clothes and had a designer job at mattel working for barbie, i created my own ‘zine in high school and later illustrated for the los angeles times and, i doodled party dresses as a kid and i now work in fashion!

i am a full-time creative entrepreneur hired as a consultant or designer for many industries. i worked in-house as a graphic designer for many years, kept up healthy professional relationships and gained a solid reputation which has enabled me to be 100% independent.

paper doll t-shirt aileen holmes

when you’re not making things, what do you do?

sleep? seriously, my days are completely full of making things! or driving to where i make things!

 is creativity a luxury or a necessity for you?

it is a necessity since it is my livelihood. although, i would love to make more things that i have no intention of selling–perhaps even make something for myself! that would be a luxury!

what obstacles have you had to overcome to lead a creative life?

i have very high standards of quality and sometimes my skills don’t match my vision. when i learn something new like watercolor, jewelry or book binding– i have to remember to play and experiment. happy accidents happen!

flyer aileen holmes

did someone in your family, a friend or teacher introduce you to your creative side or have they helped you along the way?

i was a total nerd who scoured the library for craft books–thank you librarians!

i was encouraged to sew by my mom, and my dad is musical. i was a musician back in the day—(not something i do now) and that experience totally enriched my creative side.

where do you find inspiration?

i love people watching, shopping and generally keeping my eyes open wherever i am.

people say i am incredibly resourceful. i am the person to ask if you ever need to find or know something random. i am always investigating.

what’s on the horizon for you and what you do?

i am currently designing kids accessories like handbags, luggage and backpacks for a big client. so fun!

i just contributed to the knowwhat app, which is a zesty guide to travel and fun things to do. i reviewed dozens of my fave spots in oc– now out in the itunes store!

illustration aileen holmes

if money wasn’t an issue, how would your life change in regards to your art?

i would hire a team of writers and animators to help me develop characters i have created—then, i would license my artwork to manufacturers for apparel, accessories, stationery, home decor and other fun products!

what would be your perfect day off?


what inspiring advice would you give to other creatives?

it’s ok to call yourself an artist (or whatever you want)! make a business card with your job title and your work and give it to everyone. no one knows who you are unless you tell them.

 -varci h.

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