HOLLAAAA! Right, well now I have your attention, I’d like to introduce you to…Hollaaaa FC. It is my belief that social media can sometimes be a murky rabbit hole of ridiculousness, and other times it slaps you right in the face with something utterly brilliant. The something brilliant that had left my face stinging with excitement was the wonderful work of Hollaaaa FC, a brand created by the sublimely talented designer Holly.
The Diego T-Shirt is available at Everpress
Her designs encompass images of Karim Benzema, Ian Wright, Roberto Baggio, The Lionesses, and a host of other iconic figures of the game, mixing modern-day football culture with a vintage twist to create a truly unique look.
Ian Wright is a fan of Hollaaaa FC
Among her work is a superb design based on an image of Diego Maradona – vest on, shirt draped seductively down his back like the cheeky little scamp he was. Guns out, Che Guevera tattoo on show, eyes closed, dancing to the rhythm of life, possibly dreaming of scoring copious amounts of goals or perhaps something slightly more illegal. Holly took this image and put her unique twist on it to create her first line of t-shirts, and also potentially the greatest restaurant/bar/cafe/club of all time.
Holly’s work has appeared in The Goal Hanger Art Gallery and she has worked with the likes of the brilliant A Store Like 94. She can also include Arsenal legend, Ian Wright and the fantastic Jemilla Pir of Ur So Cool as fans. She would describe herself as somewhat of a perfectionist, someone who is always striving for excellence and trying to improve upon her already brilliant work.
The Divine Ponytail
It is football that is in her blood, and it’s something that has always been close to her heart. It was once upon a time a dream to be a pro footballer, but she is just as happy watching her beloved Oxford play or going through a rollercoaster of emotions with The Lionesses.
Hollaaaa FC’s tribute to Mary Earps
Born and raised in Oxford, Holly grew up in a small village, with her parents and younger sister. Creativity is something which runs throughout the family. Her mum is an outstanding cook and in her former life was a cake decorator. Her dad is a trained chef and together they run their own catering business, with the hope of retiring for a life of making sourdough, crocheting, and oil painting – the dream. Her sister, Imogen is also an incredibly talented photographer, so it’s fair to say that Holly was always destined to leave her creative mark on the world.
Creativity is something which runs throughout Holly’s family
Her life has taken her from that small village in Oxford, to the sun-soaked state of Dubai and to Finland where she now works in her own studio which sits inside an old paper factory that was converted into a creative hub for local artists and small businesses. It was a pleasure to sit down with Holly, as we spoke about her designs, football, and what it is that inspires her.
Holly and girlfriend Tiinamaija
That’s really my happiest place
I studied Advertising and Design at University and after that ended up working for a creative agency in London – I actually ended up being there for 10+ years. London was fun – I learnt so much career-wise, made some great friends and met my dream girl.
After five years in London, my girlfriend and I packed up our lives and our dog, Marcel, and I transferred to the Dubai office of the same agency. It felt very surreal at first, the warm weather made every day feel like a holiday. My favourite part was being able to wear shorts all the time. Most weekends I would spend at sneaker stores, sketching in cafes and exploring all the amazing food options.
Marcel’s happy place
After the pandemic, we decided to move closer to our families and chose Finland as our new home, which is where my girlfriend is from. I’ve always dreamed of having my own studio and now I have one 10 mins from my house, it’s based in an old paper factory which has been converted into a little creative hub for local artists and small businesses.
Holly’s studio sits within this old converted paper factory
So when I’m not there drawing or freelancing (which is my real day job), I love going thrifting at all the flea markets, looking for football treasures, vintage magazines, comics, matchbooks and stickers etc.
Vintage stamps from a thrift store
We live right next to a nature trail and a big river so it’s a great place to spend time when I have a creative block and need to reset. During the summer we spend a lot of time at the family cottage – we swim in the lake, go to the sauna and I am the chief BBQ-er. That’s really my happiest place.
Holly and Marcel
When we moved to Dubai I felt like I had more free time compared to London and I felt inspired by the people around me and the places I travelled. I was drawing a lot in a sketchbook and then one day I decided to buy myself an iPad and downloaded Procreate – that’s really where I became obsessed with learning how to use the tools and trying to develop my own style.
Drawing by the lake
I’m still trying to figure out my style to be honest
Over the years my job role gradually started to become more creative and I wanted to get to grips with Photoshop and Illustrator in order to have a better understanding of the technical side of design – mainly so I could communicate with my team more efficiently.
I’m still trying to figure out my style to be honest – I am never happy with my work. Sometimes I archive my posts as soon as I’ve posted them. I think it’s a good thing though because it means I am always trying to improve.
Holly’s, Maradona design was inspired by this original photograph taken by Religione Monoteistica
I like mixing modern-day football culture with a vintage twist
My inspiration comes from various sources – a lot of it through discovering artists and designers on Instagram. I’m also influenced by vintage Matchday programmes and merch, posters, packaging, t-shirts etc. I like mixing modern-day football culture with a vintage twist – whether that’s adding depth and texture through vintage papers or creating creases and distress with the brushes I use.
Vintage matchday programmes and comics
Pinterest also plays a key role – I have so many secret boards for all my ideas. Sometimes I scroll the home page before I go to sleep in the hope that some nice ideas will come to me in my dreams.
I do all of my work in Procreate and Illustrator. It usually starts with a reference image and then I start sketching the line work on one layer and then build up from there. My favourite part is when I transfer my work onto a vintage paper texture, that’s when it really comes to life.
Postcard print of Lioness Euro’s montage
BENZEMA IN HIS TUPAC-INSPIRED LOOK WAS ICONIC
I try to be reactive and topical wherever possible – usually, those moments I capture as soon as they happen are my most successful posts. For example, the picture of Benzema in his Tupac-inspired look the night he won the Ballon d’Or – I knew I wanted to draw that as soon as I saw the picture of him in such an iconic look. I like working fast so it was a fun challenge for me to finish it within a couple of hours of the event taking place.
Karim Benzema channelling his inner Tupac
When I’m drawing I like to have the TV on in the corner of the screen of my iPad, usually something that reminds me of home, like Masterchef or Gone Fishing with Mortimer and Whitehouse. My favourite place to draw is when I’m on a plane – I just disappear into my own little bubble for a few hours and it makes the time pass quickly.
I actually illustrated that picture of Maradona on a flight and it has been sitting on my iPad for a while, whilst I figured out what I want to do with it. I had been floating around the idea of creating t-shirts and decided that design would be perfect for my first t-shirt campaign.
“My favourite place to draw is when I’m on a plane”
I have always loved football in every form
My biggest achievements so far – Ian Wright liking and sharing my portrait of him. Having a gallery of my work at The Goal Hanger in London. Collaborating with A Store Like 94 on the Women’s World Cup tattoos. And I have something in the pipeline with FC St. Pauli later in the year which I’m really excited to share.
A collaboration with FC St. Pauli is on the horizon
I have always just always loved football in every form. I played football during every hour of sunlight growing up, I would stay up late to watch Match Of The Day, go to Oxford United home games, collect football stickers, watch my dad play 5-a-side, and play football video games. It’s been a big part of my life, for all my life really.
Holly’s collection of vintage matchday Pennants
Whenever I go home to see my family I make sure I go to an Oxford game with my dad, sometimes I even plan my flights around the fixtures. I also support Spurs, mainly because my uncle is a die-hard fan. And I follow Huddersfield Town because my cousin plays for them. I definitely want to check out some WSL matches when I’m next home. It would be a dream to see the Lionesses in action too!
The glory days of Oxford United. Holly in the middle with her uncles and their mates
Every year I get really into playing FPL (Fantasy Football), I have a manager’s meeting with my dad every Friday night and we talk about how we are going to beat the other members of our family league. I’m slowly getting all of my family into it. My girlfriend laughs at me when she comes home and I have three screens all showing different games at the same time and I say I’m just scouting for my fantasy team. It’s serious business.
“I would stay up late to watch Match Of The Day, go to Oxford United home games”
I really just want to keep having fun
I’ve been loving the WWC so far – It’s amazing to see. The Lionesses have me going through a rollercoaster of emotions which is what it’s all about! I used to play for girl’s teams growing up – I was lucky enough to meet an amazing football coach when I was 10 years old called Jason Carbon, who still does so many great things for the community, and he introduced me to the world of women’s football (which I didn’t even know existed at that point of my life). I was convinced I was going to be a pro footballer, but my dodgy knee had other ideas.
Sarina Wiegman has guided The Lionesses to the World Cup Final
In terms of my career and what’s in store for the rest of the year, I definitely want to do more collabs, for sure. I would LOVE to work with a Premier League club, that would be a huge milestone for me. And to have my work in print in a magazine. And maybe a mural somewhere. And some sort of streetwear collab. But overall I really just want to keep having fun.
FC St. Pauli’s Jackson Irvine
With thanks to the wonderful Holly of Hollaaaa FC for her time
You can follow the journey of Hollaaaa FC here