Abi is a jack-of-all-trades, and this flexible approach to her career has seen her do everything from designing logos, to public speaking and organising exhibitions, as well as plenty more.
Read on for highlights from Abi’s Gradual podcast including some brilliant insights for freelancers, as well as tips for all you future jack-of-all-traders!
*GradUAL is a podcast that explores the big questions and challenges that many new graduates will face. In each episode, we share unfiltered stories from creative professionals who make a living doing what they love. Search ‘Gradual Podcast’ on popular podcast platforms to subscribe and listen. Created by UAL Careers and Employability.
Part One: Into Education
Abi was introduced to design by her older sister, who studied graphic design at college. Abi wanted to join in, so her sister made her ‘homework’ and this is where her love for design started. You can hear more about Abi’s early years at 2:30 minutes in.
A change of perspective
Abi goes on to explain that initially she didn’t really enjoy her undergraduate degree, but she took a sandwich year to complete a Diploma in Professional Studies before starting her final year. She spent this studying New York, as well as participating in a design festival in Istanbul. This was a turning point for Abi, because she saw a new side of graphic design: “It was the first time I had seen graphic design communicating culture”. This had a profound effect on Abi, so when she returned to finish her degree at UAL she shaped her Final Major Project around culture and identity – looking at how black bodies were advertised in design from the 1900s onwards. You can hear Abi discuss her FMP from 4:00 minutes onwards.
Part Two: Into Work
After graduating, Abi worked in retail full-time to pay the bills, freelancing on the side for two years. She then made contact with the African & African-Caribbean Design Diaspora and was invited to participate in an exhibition they were putting together. This sparked a chain of events that meant Abi could quit retail and work solely in the creative industries – in a variety of roles. This transition is really interesting, so please skip to 6:00 minutes in to hear about it from Abi in depth.
Making her big break
At 8:00 minutes in Abi talks about how her first solo curated show came about in 2011 as a response to the riots that had broken out across London. To make this happen, Abi looked to her network of friends and UAL graduates and called in every favour she could. Her best friend worked in public relations at Island Records at the time, so she wrote Abi a press release. Another of her friends had a connect with a popular blog at the time called ‘Inform London’ – so Abi got some free press through there. The exhibition was a success and it led to further curation opportunities.
If you take a look at Abi’s website (link below) you’ll see that besides her curation and art direction practice, that she also works on a wide range of design projects – from print, user interface design, to branding and logos. She truly is an example of a jack-of-all-trades designer. Read on for Abi’s top tips.
Part Three: Abi’s tips for students
1) If you’re looking to do something big, like curate an exhibition, look to your friends:
Abi says, “Think about the people who you know. Look at your circle and harness everyone’s skills. You can literally do what you want!”
2) Stay in touch:
Abi says if you meet someone in the industry, make an effort to keep the relationship going with occasional check-ins and catch-ups, “That way when they have a project they’ll think of you. It’s really worth maintaining relationships with people.”
3) For the freelancers out there, get a contract!
At 15:00 minutes into the podcast, Abi talks in detail about the struggles freelancing can entail. To sum it up; get a contract, get paid some money upfront (and the rest in instalments if it’s a big job) and be a jack-of-all-trades. That way if you don’t have work lined up in your specific field, you can do something else.
Want to know more about what Abi is up to? Follow her online:
Website: Abi Wright Design
Interested in Graphic Design or Curation? Take a look at these courses: