Interview with illustrator Abbey Lossing

Based in Brooklyn, New York, Abbey Lossing is a staff illustrator and animator at Vice News, as well as a freelance illustrator and designer. She has created work for Variety Magazine, The New York Times, GIPHY Studios, Google, and BuzzFeed, among others. She uses beautiful colours in her work, both bright hues and pastel tones, and often features distinctive, expressive faces and patterns. Her work is fun, humorous, and insightful, and she also creates animated GIFs from her illustrations. We caught up with Abbey and asked her to tell us more about her work and her individual creative style.

What inspires you and makes you want to create?

The satisfaction I get from finishing an assignment always inspires me to keep creating new things. I’m on staff at Vice News, so I’m constantly starting and completing illustrations and animations. I use the momentum from my day job to inspire my personal work and freelance gigs. I’m also motivated by my peers; I’ve been able to work with a lot of talented people, and seeing them create things brings me joy and encourages me to do the same.

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Your style seems to change a little from piece to piece – for example the difference between ‘Rose Quartz and Serenity’ and ‘Faces’ – tell us about this.

I was a staff illustrator at BuzzFeed for two years. During my time there I was able to experiment with several different styles. I created the ‘Faces’ piece for a BuzzFeed assignment and ‘Rose Quartz and Serenity’ was a personal project. I think both styles have their strengths and weaknesses. The style I used in faces is more expressive, so it’s better for comics or anything that needs to communicate over the top emotion. ‘Rose Quartz’ is more decorative and subdued.

Is there a style you most enjoy illustrating in?

I really enjoy working in both styles, but I am most satisfied with a piece when I feel that I have successfully combined aspects from both. I would love to have a more cohesive look and that is something I am working toward with every new illustration or animation that I create.

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You’ve also created GIFs from your illustrations, what made you start to make these?

During my time at BuzzFeed I made illustrations and GIFs for BuzzFeed lists. I had never animated before, so it was a fun new challenge and I enjoyed the process. I started creating GIFs for personal projects, and it was so satisfying to see my drawings come to life.

Do you have a favourite series or piece of your own work?

I always enjoy doing editorial illustrations. This fall, I created an illustration for an article about stocks and bonds for The New York Times. I was really excited about the sketch so being able to fully execute it and see it printed on the page was very satisfying. Regularly creating personal work is also really important to me. I recently made a GIF of a girl skateboarding with a beer and I really loved working on that piece.

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What’s your creative process?

I always start with a cup of coffee and good music. I feel the most creative in the morning, so I try to do all my sketching and brainstorming early in the day. I work completely digitally, using a wacom tablet and Photoshop to execute everything from the rough sketches to the final color. This has allowed me to streamline my process and work quickly, which is extremely important with editorial assignments.

You’re currently an illustrator and animator for Vice News, which must be really interesting – tell us about this.

I create animations for Vice News Daily, which airs every weeknight on HBO, as well as editorial illustrations for articles on vicenews.com. I’ve been able to work on several longer animations which has been a great new challenge coming from a background creating short looping GIFs. I also enjoy the collaborative and creative environment at the Vice HQ.

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What other projects are you working on at the moment?

Currently, I’m working on a few freelance projects and am also animating a longer segment for Vice News Daily, so that’s taking up a majority of my time.  When I have some free time I would love to screen print some of my illustrations and designs onto shirts and tote bags.

What’s your dream brief or project?

So far, the editorial assignments I’ve been receiving have been for still illustrations. I would love to be given the opportunity to create a GIF or animation for a magazine or newspaper. More and more people are consuming the news digitally, either online or through apps, so I think opportunities to create moving images to accompany news articles will become more and more prevalent throughout my career.

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View more of Abbey Lossing’s work at www.abbeylossing.com.