Julia Hoolahan studied graphic design at Shillington with a specific goal—to become the Art Director of a magazine one day. Flash forward 12 years and she’s heading up the creative team at Home Beautiful. A practical education, hard work and ambition obviously pays off!
Read on to hear Julia’s top tips for designers looking to work in publishing, her favourite cover designs and do’s and don’ts for design interviews.
Art Director of Home Beautiful magazine sounds like a total dream job! What’s your favourite thing about your work?
As predictable as this answer might seem, I promise it’s true! My favourite thing about my job is that I actually love what I do.
I love the brand I work for and I’m completely passionate about it in every aspect. If you can find a job that you really love, it makes every day so enjoyable.
You studied at Shillington in 2007 . What lessons stick with you most today?
Shillington taught me the ability to turn briefs around quickly. In publishing you don’t have the luxury of working on stories for a week/month, sometimes you need to turn around a page on either the day before or the day of print!
And shortcut/quick keys tests. Not to brag, but I did use to get 20/20 each week we were tested on our quick keys, which has totally paid off now!
You’ve been at Pacific Mags since graduating, right? What was that first interview like with your Shillington portfolio?
All interviews are scary and nerve wracking, but being able to present a Shillington portfolio—which are known in the industry for the level of professionalism—gave me confidence.
When being interviewed the employer kept saying how impressed he was at the level of portfolio that can be produced from such a short course. And that came from a Creative Director with 20 years + experience who had worked all over the world!
What job titles did you have in the lead-up to Art Director? What’s it like leading the charge now?
I started as a Junior Design and literally moved my way through each level of graphic design. It’s so important to work your way up through all the ranks & appreciate all levels of the job. It gives you a better understanding of the industry and helps you be a better manager one day.
It’s exciting and still surreal to me that I’m in this position.
I attended Shillington because I wanted to be an art director of a magazine one day… and here I am!
What’s the most unexpected thing you’ve had to do as Art Director?
Be on tv! Co-host a daily Podcast! Design an App!
The magazine industry has definitely changed over the last 12 years and it’s taught me you always need to be adaptable and thinking creatively, no matter what platform it’s on.
Any favourite covers or features you could share with us?
The Style Forecast cover was the first of its kind for our brand. It’s actually a flip cover—image on the back and the front of the magazine—so I had to design two covers that month 😅. And we traditionally never run such a simple, close up image on our covers. It was an opportunity for me to try something different, and it paid off.
And the two Hamptons covers are stand alone magazines that I produced with another editor from my team. They have been some of the most successful selling books in our company, and Volume one sold out! Which is hard to do in today’s climate.
Any tips for fresh design graduates hoping to work in publishing?
You need to have a real passion for publishing. It can be a tough slog with tight deadlines and without huge reward. But if magazines is where you want to be, then go for it. Magazines aren’t going anywhere anytime soon!
What are your biggest do’s and don’ts for design job interviews?
Do: your research on the brand/company you’re seeing. It instantly shows interest, commitment and dedication. I can tell straight away if someone has ever picked up our magazine or not.
Don’t: forget your portfolio! Don’t assume the interviewer has seen it online already. Bring it with you on your laptop, iPad or print it out. It shows organisation