We've collaborated with Leeds-based illustrator and graphic designer Abbey Withington on some designs around the theme (and our motto) ‘Look Different’. We had a chat with Abbey about her approach to design, where she finds inspiration, and the ups and downs of freelancing.
Visit Bailey Nelson at Stylist Live 2018, 9-11th November at Olympia London to see the final results and get your hands on exclusive Bailey Nelson x Abbey Withington tote bags and notebooks that we’ll be giving away throughout the weekend (while supplies last). Buy tickets here or, if you’re feeling lucky, keep an eye on @baileynelsonUK as we’ll be giving away 4 pairs of tickets!
Are you self-taught or did you study graphic design?
When it comes to Graphic Design I’m definitely self-taught. I studied Printed Textiles at uni, focusing on illustration and printmaking. I’ve always loved combining images and typography so I slowly learnt how to put the two together. I sometimes wish I’d studied graphics but feel I wouldn’t have found the approach I have now if I had. My approach now is a bit more free and naive, and I like that.
What was the process for developing your style?
It’s been such an evolution from the first year of uni until now. I’m not the kind of person to jump on to the band wagon and use a certain style just because it’s on trend. I try to stay true to my original processes and over the years have adapted new ones. I guess it’s developed organically. It’s been a big learning curve of studying colour, shapes and what works well together. It just happened really, it’s never been forced or done for the sake of it. I think you just learn your niche and stick with it.
Where do you find inspiration?
Colour and words are the biggest source of inspiration for me. I could see a colour combination in, say, a nice interior magazine or a shop window and that could spark something. I love words and phrases, especially idioms or those weird old wives phrases that parents say. A good sentence could influence an illustration, and vice versa. I tend to stay clear of platforms such as Pinterest or Instagram for direct inspiration; I feel like everything ends up looking the same if we rely on it too much. Inspiration can be recycled for years on those platforms. Look for the new!
Do you find it helps you to go 'analog' and take a mental break from social media?
Definitely! I realised I was staring at a screen all day, then going home and staring at a screen all night. It’s not good for your eyes or brain. I think there’s a lot of pressure to keep up with online platforms and share your entire life on them. A lot of people are starting to back away and take time for themselves, which is great. Professionally it helps as it gets so overwhelming looking at nice things on the internet all day. I feel way more focused and present.
Which medium do you most prefer designing for (e.g. stationery, kidswear) and why?
That’s a tricky one! I’m obsessed with stationery and paper products but sometimes it’s refreshing to move away from this and apply your artwork to new mediums. Designing an actual 3D product or some form of textiles just makes me think differently. Either way, nothing is more satisfying than picking up a product you’ve created or seeing a kid walking down the street wearing one of your prints.
I’ve been working on a homeware project recently and it’s definitely pointing me back towards the textiles route in terms of my own work. I miss the tactile quality and the whole process of printing fabric. I have a little something in the works so stay tuned for that.
What do you find are the biggest challenges of working freelance?
The admin, without a doubt. Some days it kills me. Other days I put my admin head on and just get on with it with some mild enthusiasm. I’m constantly chasing something or other or replying to emails. You kind of forget how long it all takes! It’s taken me a while to adjust to the freelance life and embed finances and general admin into my daily routine. Once you get over the initial freak-out stage it actually becomes quite satisfying! It’s all part of the job and the sacrifice you have to make to go at it alone. It’s all worth it, believe me.
You’ve been showing regularly at markets and design fairs - where can we find you in the coming months?
I’m actually having a little break from markets now until after Christmas. I’m at a stage where I’m ready to introduce new products and streamline the old and so plan to get going with this over the next few months ready for the new year. Next year I’ll definitely be making an appearance at London-based fairs and hopefully exhibit at my first tradeshow (fingers crossed).
What's on your studio playlist?
What isn’t on my studio playlist? I have the most eclectic music taste ever. Ghost Town by Kanye West has to be one of my favourite songs on the current (very random) playlist. I’ve also been listening to a lot of The Magic Gang & The Generationals - both of which I discovered on Spotify recently. Lovely, happy background music.
And finally, where can we find your products in stores in London?
You can find my plastic-free greetings on sale in stationery heaven Present & Correct, The Nook Store & General Provisions (all of which are beaut spaces to visit when in need of a stationery or paper-based fix!).