Abby Leighton

MEET ABBY, ARTIST & FREELANCE GRAPHIC DESIGNER

When we first met Abby through her Live Más Scholarship submission video, we were in awe of her creativity and fierce talent for visual arts. Her impact isn’t limited by medium—she’ll use photography, graphic design, illustration, and even music to reach a diverse audience with the stories she needs to share.

With an aesthetic and perspective so unique, we couldn’t wait to see it in-person! Abby joined us, and eight other Live Más Scholars, in Queens this past September to concept a mural that will emblazon a newly-opened Taco Bell restaurant in New York City. While we wait for this mural to launch, we checked back in with Abby to learn more about her passion for design and life as a junior at Pratt Institute.

 

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ABBY'S ORIGINAL SUBMISSION VIDEO

Question: When did you realize your passion for design? What started it?

Abby: I can trace my passion for design all the way back to elementary school when my best friends and I hosted a class “art gallery.” We invited other students to submit their work, and I had the best time putting the gallery together and handing print-outs to everyone in my grade.  I loved art class the most – it was the highlight of every week. I knew, even back then, that I wanted to become a professional artist one day. One of the major milestones of my life was realizing that art was the joy of my life and I would do everything I could to pursue it.

Q: What goes into creating an art piece?

Abby: There is a certain process I follow to tackle each project. It starts with an idea—I think long and hard about how I want to execute the idea in the best way I can. I do some simple sketches in my sketchbook with pencil and eraser, but I never worry about how these look. This step is to simply transform the ideas that are in my head into reality and to help with planning and composing the piece.  Once I have a solid sketch on paper, my next step is to hop onto my computer or re-create my design or illustration on a nicer sheet of paper, depending on the medium I ultimately want to use.  If it’s for a client, I will send it to them for approval as I work on it and we work together to get the final product.

Q: What excited you most about starting college? What frightened you the most?

Abby: College is definitely an exciting and intense time for everyone!  I think what got me pumped for college the most was that I could fully immerse myself into my art interests and take a ton of classes that I was actually enthusiastic about. I was so excited to start fresh in a new environment and be surrounded by like-minded creative people. But knowing you’re about to step into the next phase of your life is also the most daunting part of starting college. You work your whole life preparing to go to college, so when you finally get there, it’s like you’re entering a completely new chapter. Plus, for me, living on my own so far away from home was definitely nerve-wracking. But in the end, I immersed myself in my work which helped me adjust quickly to the things that initially scared me. Now I love college!

Q: What does an average day with Abby look like?

Abby: I juggle an internship, classes, and a steady freelance career, so my days as a junior are pretty packed! To start my day, I grab my daily coffee, hop on the subway, and spend my mornings working as a mockup and advertising designer at PledgeMusic. Through my internship, I work with a range of musical artists: from Lindsey Stirling to Jimmy Buffett to SixxAM! I am a huge music fan, so I love that my internship blends my two interests together. In the afternoon, I head back to Brooklyn for class, making sure to stop quickly to pet one of the many cats that wanders around the Pratt campus. After class, I work on my homework and freelance work.  I currently design for clothing companies KeepItWildCo. and Awake the Soul, and the band McLovins, creating different product designs, gig posters, and much more. When I have free time, I love to hang out with my roommates, explore the city, play my violin, and knit!

Q: Flash-forward 10 years. What do you hope to accomplish?

Abby: A lot can happen in the course of a few years. With hard work, passion, and determination, I’ve already accomplished so many goals in my college years. I’ll continue working towards my ultimate life and career dreams with this same approach. In a few years’ time, I hope to establish myself even further in the design world, to create more recognizable work for a broader audience, and to continue having design jobs that I genuinely love doing. If you are truly passionate about what you do, people recognize that in your work—no matter what.

 

Click here to view more of Abby’s work!