Grace Abell, Designer at Abell Design

An award-winning freelance designer based in York

Four years ago, I left a steady job as a graphic designer at ‘Singletrack’ – a mountain biking magazine – with the half-baked idea of going self-employed.

Originally from York, I’d settled in Todmorden for the role and my partner was living and working back home. Eager to start a family, I wanted to move back to York and settle down. I had three wonderful years at ‘Singletrack’, but it’s human nature that everyone finds a new purpose.

Before I gave birth to Genevieve in 2017, I had invested two years into building my business – supporting myself through work at an escape room on a zero hours contract and cleaning a friend’s house on weekends. After 18 months, with Abell Design taking off, I was able to leave both jobs and commit to my own venture on a full-time basis. ‘Singletrack’ became an early client (and, I’m delighted to say, I still work with them to this very day) and I’d established a strong network of contacts through the two years I spent producing ‘York on a Fork’ – a quarterly magazine I created in 2014 with a few friends which delved into the city’s food scene. If you’re not born with fantastic connections, I can assure you that publishing is a brilliant way of meeting people… it’s certainly served me well with Abell Design.

Since becoming a mum, my client base has grown and today I design for businesses covering brand identity, marketing and digital publishing. High-profile names I work with include National Geographic; the Royal Horticultural Society; the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust; and ‘Prospect’ magazine.

If you’re an aspiring freelancing parent, my advice is to invest in a good childminder because they are worth their weight in gold. Without mine, who’s been with us since Genevieve was six weeks old, I doubt I could be as flexible and accommodating of my clients these past four years – never missing deadlines; using my graphic design skills to problem-solve; and being as easy to work with as possible.

One golden rule I have never broken since having Genevieve is that I take every Wednesday off to spend one-to-one time with her, which is the most precious thing in my life.

Abell Design

Photo credit: Grace Pictures