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Meet: Bola Martins

Bola Martins

BA (Hons) Creative Direction for Fashion

Creative Direction is a pretty new area of study looking at creative concepts.

We chat with current third-year student Bola to get an idea of how she figured out that this was the course for her.

About Me

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Bola Martins and I was born in Nigeria, but raised in London.

I would describe myself as fun-loving, reserved and weird. I love embracing my Nigerian culture, and exploring black culture through poetry and photography; I make sure this translates in my work.

When did you decide that you wanted to do something related to design?

I decided when I started watching ‘That’s So Raven’ on Disney channel. The main character, Raven was an aspiring fashion designer. I loved her style, her character, everything! I was literally obsessed. I started to explore more of the fashion design and textiles route at a young age, up until I picked up a camera in sixth form, and everything changed from then.

A portrait of a woman with her eyes closed.
Credit: Bola Martins.

My Work

Did you know right away what type of creative you wanted to become?

At first, I really thought I was going to become a fashion designer. I would sketch designs consistently and create clothes on my sewing machine, until I realised that I found it tedious, and I did not feel joyful when thinking about continuing on in fashion design or textiles. Prior to attending sixth form I enjoyed photography and editing. But I was able to exercise my photography muscles and gain an understanding of how to use a camera during my time at sixth form, as well as styling and makeup, which I also truly enjoyed. I started to explore these areas; I fell in love with creating concepts and bringing people on board to realise my vision. That is why I chose Creative Direction for Fashion as my degree.

What helped you to decide what to study at uni?

My teachers at sixth form helped me but I did as much research as possible when I was choosing my degree, this meant going to open days as well as reading the course details thoroughly and asking questions where necessary.

What do you think makes you a good creative?

I have acquired many skills from being at university, one of them being problem-solving when faced with a challenge; this includes making the right decisions that can impact you as a creative. I have learnt that asking questions when you are confused about something can be the difference between you growing as a creative and being stagnant. For me the aim is to elevate everything I do, so if I cannot see progress I will ask for feedback and take on constructive criticism.

I enjoyed playing around with the camera that was given to me in school, as well as working with people to create. Whether it is working in a group to produce a drama piece or create a horror trailer, I enjoy collaborating with people. I have also really enjoyed participating in poetry competitions.

Credit: Bola Martins. A behind-the-scenes look of Bola’s work and a final image.
What have you achieved from studying creative direction?

I have gained knowledge in areas I didn’t think I would be great at. I did this by attending the workshops that are provided by UAL. They are absolutely amazing! My course encourages independent learning which I found both beneficial in my academic life but also in my personal life, this forces me to get things done as quickly and efficiently as possible.

What work are you most proud of?

I am currently in my final year of university, working on my final major project. I will be looking at culture and theories around ‘blackness’. Although I am still trying to streamline my ideas I am looking forward to researching and experimenting. The challenge is time management as I also have to do my dissertation alongside my FMP but I think the key to this is being organised and realistic with the time I have! I am finding researching enjoyable and I think that is one of the best parts of my course.

What’s the best thing you’ve done so far?

Within my course, we had a project which gave us a chance to work with the V&A Museum to create a fashion film based around their exhibition showing at the time, ‘The Undressed’. The exhibition was based around the evolution of underwear. I thoroughly enjoyed creating my film as I had the chance to collaborate with different people. My film was based around stretch marks.

“It reminded me that it is very important to create work you are proud of at all times and be unapologetically you throughout the process.”


Credit: Bola Martin. 'Stretch' fashion film.


What inspires you?

I am in love with everything Gucci and Kenzo right now! I can’t stop watching their fashion campaigns and fashion films. I love how they construct their ideas through artists or themes, it is so fascinating to see how their concepts are transformed from one idea into something magical.

Any top tips?

I would say go with your gut instinct and never second guess yourself, it is always better to do something you are proud of, rather than something you need to do to pass the time. Enjoy the process even if it seems stressful at the time, literally stay positive AT ALL TIMES!

The best tip I have recently heard is: “Always do something, never do nothing.”

What’s next?

I hope to graduate and literally travel as much as possible before I get a job!


Bola also took part in the NY-LON exchange programme, watch her behind the scenes video:

Project Diaries: Bola Presents NY-LON


Find out more about the course Bola studied:

BA (Hons) Creative Direction for Fashion

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