If you spend any time following creative and colourful Instagram accounts, chances are you’ll have come across Zabby Allen’s awesome feed (@zabbyallen). As one of my long-term Instagram crushes, I was super-hyped to talk to the lady herself!
Hello! I’m Zabby, I’m a freelance designer from South East London. I work for several companies consistently and also take on all sorts of commissions and create my own personal work! I actually trained as a Book Artist, so I’m hoping to get back into making books at some point when I have a little more time!
Your work is quite eclectic – you’re definitely living the millennial dream! How did you get involved in doing such a variety of things?
Ha! Yes, I always kind of dread somebody asking me what I do, as it takes me about half an hour to explain all of my jobs.
My work at the illustration agencies is through a family connection, but it’s great, as illustration has always been something I’ve loved and wanted to explore more. I work as an agent and designer and do lots of social media related things…
Instagram has actually helped me get some of my other jobs!
I saw Alice Tams of Birds in Hats advertising for some Christmas help in 2014 so I sent her an application, telling her about a book I made at uni all about fancy pigeons and an A Level project where I made a hat for my cat using a yoghurt pot!
It was the weirdest job application ever but it got me the job as her Christmas helper. I’ve worked with Alice a few times since at markets and trade shows which is always fun!
I also saw Leona advertising for help with the Lucky Dip Club packing parties on Instagram and was thrilled to become one of her consistent helpers! It’s fantastic to still be involved since Leona has moved to Glasgow.
I spend one day a week editing Girl Planet, the publication which goes in all of the boxes and celebrates creative gals around the world.
Finally – once in a while I also help out Drunken Dairy, a business set up with my oldest friends’ Mum. They sell booze-infused ice creams and sorbets, so I have no complaints about that job either!
Of everything you have done, what are you proudest of?
I’m proud that I’ve actually been able to earn a living doing the things that I enjoy doing and working with so many inspiring people. I may not be the highest earner, but being able to work on such a variety of things that I’m genuinely interested in is such a privilege.
Seeing the first issue of Girl Planet in print was also a very proud moment for me, I always love seeing the reaction to the most recent issues on #luckydipclub.
What inspires you?
Chatting to so many talented women, both as part of my job editing Girl Planet, and just on a daily basis on Instagram is super inspiring for me! I’m also a big lover of nature.
My Mum lives in Dumfries and Galloway, and every time I visit her and find myself surrounded by hills it’s like a breath of fresh air and I just want to get drawing!
What are the best and worst parts of your job?
The best part is having a variety, it’s impossible to get bored! The downside to this is that I have to be very organised, which has been a learning curve. It can be hard to switch between roles from day to day and keep up with exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.
Last year I set up my blog and was posting two days a week. I found that I was just working all of the time, and even when I did have a day or an evening off, my mind wasn’t switched off!
This year I’ve made sure that I’ve given myself some proper time off and plan to only post on my personal blog when I actually have the time and something I’m really proud of sharing, rather than pushing myself too hard to hit unnecessary targets.
When did you start getting into Instagram?
I first started using Instagram in 2013 – my first photo was a photo of my dog sunbathing! I used it once in a while, generally posting pretty rubbish photos… I upped my game once I started interacting with other creatives on Instagram and being totally inspired by how beautiful their photos were.
I visited Lisbon in May 2015 and it was then that my feed started looking like the colourful place it is today – I took so many photos of colourful houses on holiday that I couldn’t bare for it to not continue that way when I got home!
Really the main thing that’s made me stick to Instagram is the relationships I’ve formed with people, it’s been so fantastic to find so many people who are interested in the same things as me!
Who are your Instagram Crushes?
This is a tricky one, there are so many accounts I love! @claireabellemakes has a pretty pastel-themed feed, with lots of Cambridge bikes. @ohnorachio is a social media queen, with gorgeous products and stunning cats! @finestimaginary shares my perfect combo – crafts, pets and beautiful countryside photos! @caboodlemagazine are always sharing fun photos and spreading the joy. I could drool over the accounts of @vickysdonuts and @nuggetandmallow all day!!! I’ll stop now…
If you were to give one piece of advice to somebody just starting out in the creative field, what would it be?
Go out there and interact with others in your field.
There’s room out there for us all, don’t feel like you have to compete with other creatives… support each other! Don’t be shy – reach out to other creatives you admire – comment on their photos, or send an email if you’re feeling confident – you never know where it could lead you!
If there are any local meet-ups, markets or events then go to those too and say hello in real life
What’s coming up next for you?
I’ve just bought a big fancy printer which means I’ll be able to offer art prints, zines and possibly cards that I can print at home, without having to store lots of prints in my limited studio space. It also means I can offer personalised products, which is something I really wanted to do when I started selling products again.
It’s something I’ve been putting off for so long – I decided if I bought the printer I’d just have to go ahead and finish some work to justify the cost! Watch this space…
We will! Thanks Zabby for the fab answers – if you’d like to take a peek at her blog it’s at www.zabbyallen.com.
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