We’ve truly fallen for Chrissie Abbott’spsychedelic style 💖👀 Tuning into her childhood, Chrissie was inspired by one of the greatest—Jim Henson—oh gosh how we love him! Hear how Chrissie scored a major gig through myspace and some great tips on working with your style and networking. (Hot tip—watch those sesame street videos!)
What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design? I remember watching Sesame Street & the muppet show and having my tiny mind blown by all the animations and colours, it was super psychedelic and was definitely a really early inspirational trip. Jim Henson had an amazing brain.
Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs? I studied at LCC in elephant and castle in London. I did a year in industry as part of my degree and managed to get an internship at a design studio called Zip, which had a small team of 6 designers, who really supported and helped me learn pretty much everything design-wise. They really had the patience of saints. Then they gave me my first official full time design job!
My first notable illustration commision was for New York Magazine — the art director contacted me through MySpace (!!) because my self-built website kept crashing and she couldn’t email me. I thought I was maybe getting catfished because it seemed too good to be true, but luckily it was the real deal.
All of them are so multi-faceted and super talented, I think its really inspiring when people have a gazillion strings to their bow.
‘your influences should be wide ranging and not just what’s cool at the moment or on pinterest. Look further and explore what makes you
feel good and true!’
How did you develop your style as an illustrator and what tips would you have for others? I think learning different processes across the board like screen printing, drawing & painting as well as digital tools has played a really important role in my development, a mixed bag of techniques to utilise and draw from is helpful but also different interests are really crucial.
My style reflects what I’m into, and references visuals that I am naturally drawn to, look old record sleeves and poster artwork from the 70’s and magical esoteric things.
It’s developed and changed over time as I’ve gotten older and I’ve had new experiences.
Being able to travel and see new places has been a great source of inspiration in my work, particularly Japan- its a goddamn feast for the senses.
Initially by not really caring about the outcome, it was more about enjoying the process. I always enjoyed collage the most so that’s the thread that has existed throughout my work. At art school you have an amazing opportunity to use your time to experiment and try anything, and it doesn’t necessarily matter if what you make even looks that nice so that was a really valuable time to get into the groove of just making stuff.
So with style as a whole, I feel like every person is a different tasting soup with your own unique and hand picked ingredients. The most important thing is that your style should be a true expression and reflection of who you are, your personality and what you want to communicate. And your influences should be wide ranging and not just what’s cool at the moment or on pinterest. Look further and explore what makes you feel good and true!
‘the key is to build a network of people around you that you enjoy being around, who are inspiring, who encourage and support what you do—and you them.’
What role does digital design play in your studio in 2017, and how to you apply traditional graphic design skills in a digital age? Every project I’ve worked on in the last couple of years has had a digital element to it, if not being digital in entirety. I think it’s really exciting! I love learning new ways to work, and its such a fast paced and constantly evolving platform that it really gives you and endless scope for innovation. Applying traditional design skills is so necessary though because you still need to visually communicate information effectively, digital design is just another output and an evolution of print and a way of thinking.
How important is networking to you? I kind of hate the term networking, it makes me feel awkward. I know that the reality is that in this industry (actually probably any industry) who you know always counts for something. However, that maybe the key is to build a network of people around you that you enjoy being around, who are inspiring, who encourage and support what you do—and you them.
Looking back, the people that I went to university with and the people that I spent a lot of time with when I was young and working in a shop to pay my rent, were also doing similar creative things. And we just hung out and dreamt about smashing real life career goals, but also experienced all the shit bits in between together like having no money and getting too drunk. Those people shaped who I am and I will treasure them forever, and I often get to work with them now as they are all doing great creative things in various different capacities.
I think social media is another (easier?) form of networking, I’m all for sending out good vibes and telling people I like their work but its more just to put it out there than to hope that they can elevate me in some way. No one likes a ladder climber, do they? Just be nice to people and don’t expect anything I say.