GRAPHIC DESIGNER EXTRAORDINAIRE
I came across Abby Jean Samuda’s work for the first time a couple of months ago on UK Black community forum, and since then I’ve followed her progress in graphic designing with interest. Her skill has gone from strength to strength,with new techniques and processes added to her arsenal on a regular basis. My interview with Abby covers everything from how Abby got into graphic design, to how her creative mind works, and all the way through to tips for aspiring designers!
A-CHOICES:So let’s start with the obvious! what originally made you want to become a graphic designer?
ABBY: As a child I was always super creative and my artistic flare started at school. My art teacher told me that I could become a designer so after that I went to art college where I specialised in graphic design. I then went on to study graphic design at university and obtained my degree. I have always been good at art and had a love for computers so it came quite naturally. I was lucky to have an encouraging art teacher and later encouraging lecturers.s
A-CHOICES:Tell me a little bit about yourself, your family, and your educational background?
ABBY: I am from a working class background and proud to say that. My mum had a very creative flare. She was very good with a sewing machine and often made curtains and cushions for our home and sometimes other people. She could paint and draw and would often colour with me as a child so I suppose she was an inspiration.
I suppose I would say that I am an introverted extrovert. If you look online I am everywhere but I like to keep my private life very private. I don’t feel the need to share my every move online and I only really talk about my job when you do see me on many social media platforms. I try to live life quietly these days. I feel very married to my work and I love it a lot.
As for education I have my degree in graphic design but I haven’t stopped learning and I won’t stop. I do mini courses all of the time. I enjoy learning.
A-CHOICES: You are always looking for new & interesting design projects,and specifically you love working with start ups and entrepreneurial types?
ABBY: Yes I like working with start ups because I can help to create their foundations and we can build on their brand from the ground up, plus hopefully I can give them a good experience so that they won’t worry about working with designers in the future whether that be with me or someone else. Entrepreneurs are wonderful people as they have so much drive and energy. They are usually also very clear when it comes to direction and I like that, it makes things easier for me and I can help them faster.
A-CHOICES: What is branding and how would you describe your approach to design?
ABBY: The easiest way to remember what branding is to ask yourself a question. How do you want to be remembered when you are not in the room? That is what branding is. It is how you are remembered, whether you are a personal brand or a big company. It is the way to speak to people, what you say, how you look regarding colors, patterns, textures, how you make people feel and of course your logo. My approach to design is not for the faint hearted. I like to be bright, bold and fun. s
A-CHOICES: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
ABBY: Other designers mostly. I spend hours looking at behance and getting inspiration before I even start work with all of my clients. I also use pinterest and follow blogs. I listen to a podcast called, “Clever” which is pretty cool. These two girls interview designers from all principles and they talk about their life stories and how they became designers. It is wonderful to listen to.
A-CHOICES: What do you do when you find yourself creatively blocked or in a rut?
ABBY: It doesn’t happen very often but when it does it can last up to a week! It is horrible! When I am stuck I feel like there is nothing I can do, so I just ride the wave and then I bounce back. It can happen when I am overtired so it is important to watch for the warning signs and listen to the body. I realised in my early thirties that I need to rest, so now I take time out. I am lucky that I can walk away from my desk for a few hours. I believe that we all should all be able to do that from time to time. We’d all appreciate that time out, I think it makes you work harder.
A-CHOICES: What does a typical day look like for you?
ABBY: I am a creature of habit. Getting dressed and full make up is a must. Perfume and jewelry is normally applied even if I am not leaving the house (of which I laugh about). I then turn on my iMac and begin work. I try to go live on Facebook at least once a week and twice a week I have 2 long days Mondays and Wednesdays. I connect with people who I think are interesting on Facebook, chat with them, offer valuable tips and tricks in groups on how to brand your business better. I am busy with artwork a lot and I am extremely busy looking after existing clients. I always have a full calendar but I think that comes with being very visible on social media.
A-CHOICES: Do you have a favourite genre to design for, or one you really want to design for that you haven’t yet?
ABBY: Yes branding is my favourite genre, which is my job so I am very lucky! I would like to design for something like a record label. s
A-CHOICES: What has been your favourite project to date?
ABBY: I am enjoying working with the lifestyle brand but I can’t talk about it much yet as I am still working on it.sh
A-CHOICES: Who or what has been the biggest single influence on your way of thinking?
ABBY: It has not been a single person that has influenced the way I think but many things. It started by reading The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. That led me on to Eckhart Tolle who wrote The Power of Now. I have watched hours of Bob Proctor, Tony Robbins, Marissa Peer and Gary V. I listen to a lot of audio books like Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Think and Grow Rich, You are a Badass, How to Win Friends and Influence People. I like to listen to books instead of music sometimes. I run on a treadmill and learn all kinds of things. It’s fun.
A-CHOICES: What kinds of people employ your services?
ABBY: Mainly women who have small businesses. They are usually quite bold in character and ambitious so we vibe quite well. s
A-CHOICES: How expensive are you?
ABBY: I am not the cheapest designer but I do provide a lot of value so I see my services as an investment and not a cost. s
A-CHOICES: What are you working on at the moment?
ABBY: LOADS! I work a lot. I am working with a coach, a gardening company, a lifestyle brand, a clothing brand, a beauty brand, a pet store and a few other things. s
A-CHOICES: What would you say is your strongest skill and how have you honed that skill over the years?
ABBY: I am a good communicator. I love chatting to people whether that be online, in person or on zoom. I think it is because I am quite a confident person. s
A-CHOICES: How do you think online design resources have influenced the graphic design being produced today?
ABBY: I think things like Canva have a place as design tools but that does not make everyone a graphic designer and I think people need to realise this.
Also people need to understand that when you use Canva you are limited to design and you could face having your brand look the same as someone else’s. If you want good design, hire a designer that can bring you value and has a good portfolio.
Sometimes I think platforms such as Fiverr cheapen the industry, but then I realised that these platforms also churn out a lot of crap. People who don’t invest in good design from the beginning often change their work and then look completely unrecognisable to their existing customers and it can put people off. I am not saying that you can’t find a good designer on these platforms but I would recommend finding someone worth investing in.
Websites like Unsplash and Pexels for images are fantastic because they are high resolution photos that we can use for free as long as we credit the authors in some way and that has made a difference in my world when I am looking for quality images.
A-CHOICES: What type of brief or project do you enjoy working on the most?
ABBY: I secretly still like designing club flyers but nobody is partying at the moment. I like layering images, playing with effects and the use of colour. However I am one of those rare breeds that actually likes their own job.
A-CHOICES: What are your thoughts on specialisation vs generalisation?
ABBY: Specialise darling, you make more money! s
A-CHOICES: What are you passionate about besides your work?
ABBY: Food as I like cooking. I like learning. I have an interest in home decor too. s
A-CHOICES: Do you have any superstitious beliefs or rules that you live by?
ABBY: Rules consist of, make your own luck. Give thanks every single day by practicing gratitude. Read. Meditate. Look your best for yourself first, not anyone else. Remember it is nice to be important, but it is important to be nice.
A-CHOICES: What’s the best piece of advice you have heard and repeat to others?
ABBY: Some of the best advice I had from an old boss was, resting is a part of working. I also love a quote by Tom Ford that says, people will stare, make it worth their while. It makes me laugh and I enjoy putting it into practice.
s includes logos, icons, colours, fonts and much more
Author: Gbenga Teejay Okunlola