Gabby Lord is currently a senior designer at the branding and design agency Character. She is also the creator of OMGLord which is a curated directory and newsletter of handy creative resources. On this episode my conversation with Gabby started out in her hometown of Tamworth, Australia where she grew up and eventually made the move Sydney for university. After graduating, Gabby moved to Berlin where she was able to not only learn so much about her passion for design but also about herself. After spending a few years abroad Gabby made the move to the big apple where she currently resides and works as a senior design at Character.
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Jon Sorrentino: [00:00:38]
On this episode my guest is designer art director and writer of the newsletter and creative resource, O M G lord.com Gabby, Lord.
Gabby Lord: [00:01:34] Hello
Jon Sorrentino: [00:01:34] Gabby, thank you so much for joining me today on this episode and, uh, bearing with me as I struggle through that.
Gabby Lord: [00:01:41] No worries. It's a Saturday morning, so
Jon Sorrentino: [00:01:43] Yes, thank you for having me at the Character studio here in beautiful Dumbo. Gabby, it's pretty clear that you're Australian. It's wonderful.
But I'm curious. If there are any phrases or slang terms or even nicknames for Australia that Americans will just never, ever know of unless they kind of go there first hand.
Gabby Lord: [00:02:06] Ah, I mean, actually feel like this is something that I'm continually learning. I'll say something and my coworkers, a friends here would just be like, wait, what?
Can we just rewind? What did you say there? Um, Hmm. Am I allowed to swear on this?
Jon Sorrentino: [00:02:20] Absolutely.
Gabby Lord: [00:02:20] Okay. There's like a saying that we're not here to fuck spiders. I feel like that throws people sometimes. Uh, it's not something that I say that often because their reaction is usually pretty weird.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:02:30] That's a good one.
Yeah. What does that, what does that mean necessarily?
Gabby Lord: [00:02:33] Like if you're like mucking around maybe or. You know, like, we're here to get shit done kind of thing. Like, we're not here to today recording this podcast. We're not here to fuck spiders. We're here to record a podcast.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:02:42] Yeah. Um, you grew up in Australia, born and raised.
Yes. Um, what was it like as a young Gabby Lord?
Gabby Lord: [00:02:50] Oh, um, I mean, I think I had a pretty average childhood. I guess I grew up in Tamworth, which is a more regional city in Australia. So when people are always like, Oh, where are you from in Australia? Like Sydney or Melbourne? Like there's only two cities in the whole place.
But yeah, Tamworth is the country music capital of Australia.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:03:08] Country music is big in Australia
Gabby Lord: [00:03:10] Well, yes and no. I mean, it's speaking Tamworth anyway for at least 10 days of the year anyway, so it's pretty fun. But can't say that I love country. Really. Um, yeah. So even though I grew up in the country, I was pretty keen to move to Sydney and get to city living and haven't really looked back since, but Tamworth, obviously my family still lives there, so it'll always have like a soft place in my heart.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:03:33] When you decided to, as you were growing up, when you decided to make that move to the city, was that, uh, for school or anything like that, or was you just kind of decided to pack your bags?
Say, mom, I'll be back in a couple of years.
Gabby Lord: [00:03:45] Uh, no. I never said I'd be back. I'm not, but not to live anyway. Well, there's no university in Tamworth, so I always knew that I wanted to do design and that that would require either moving to Sydney or Melbourne. Um, so I kind of knew pretty early that I was going to be leaving like the second I turned 18.
So that's pretty much what I did.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:04:04] How did you decide that you wanted to follow design and, and, and go to school for that?
Gabby Lord: [00:04:09] I mean, I hate when people say this, but I was a creative kid? I guess? Like I was always making and tinkering with stuff, and, um, I liked art, like I liked drawing and that kind of thing, which I don't really do any of now.
Uh, I definitely don't consider myself an artist, but I definitely was like good at it as a kid and something that I definitely enjoyed doing. Um, and I think when you're good at that, you just people just automatically kind of put you in that box of like, Oh, you're going to do this, or, yeah. I don't know.
I just, I didn't really know what design was but in my head. I was like, these are connected. Even though in hindsight now, they're not really at all.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:04:47] You wanted to follow some kind of creative path or at least continue to do this things that you were enjoying.
Gabby Lord: [00:04:53] Yeah. I actually was really good at this thing called PDHP. I don't know if this is a
Jon Sorrentino: [00:04:59] What PDHP? Is that a coding language?
Gabby Lord: [00:05:01] Yeah. No. It sounds like one though. It's like personal development and physical education. So like if you want to be like a physiotherapist or a psychologist or this kind of thing. So I actually got accepted into psychology as well as design, but I chose to go into design
Jon Sorrentino: [00:05:18] Was the, so it's called PDHP.
Gabby Lord: [00:05:21] Yeah.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:05:22] Was that sort of like, I, I, I've never heard of that, so I don't know how to ask questions about that.
Gabby Lord: [00:05:28] Essentially it's just like gym class I guess would be the American equivalent on the, you're learning about like health and like how to strap an ankle or how to deal with an injury or, yeah, like if you were going to become like a sports physician or something like that, that's kind of like the class that you would take and again, to really kind of unconnected things, but art and PDPH were like, my two. I guess things that I was good at in school.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:05:56] Was there anyone that, you know, as you were younger that sort of ignited the creative spark for you? You know, that I guess, like, I remember if I think about that kind of like weird moment. Yeah. I was a creative kid. I remember like, I would draw and my mom would just let me continue for hours, you know, and would never interrupt me or anything like that.
And I think having that kind of space to just draw for hours and go through crayons and break 'em and make a mess. Like what I would say is what kind of led me to that. Was there anything like that for you?
Gabby Lord: [00:06:27] Honestly, not really. No. Like no one else in my, I guess my aunt was a artist and she definitely encouraged me and I guess my parents did too, but I feel like in very distant ways, like even people that I had, you know, died when I was very young.
Like my great grandfather was a calligrapher and I always loved that and I found all these drawings that he had done. Um, you know, when I was just born kind of thing. Um, so I feel like there were always like little things around the house that inspired me, but my parents, they probably don't consider themselves creative, but I think that they are in their own way.
And I think that even though it wasn't necessarily that they would draw or do something, you know, the output wasn't necessarily the same. I feel like the kind of attitude towards creating space for the things that are important to you is definitely impactful.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:07:16] Um, so you, you eventually make your move to Sydney.
Gabby Lord: [00:07:19] Yes.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:07:20] And to go to school for design. Follow that up. You went to a school called Billy Blue Design Center, something like that. Right.
Do you know anything about Billy blue? The person.
Gabby Lord: [00:07:33] Oh gosh, I do. And now I'm going to go completely blank. But it is a person, and I'm going to get this all wrong. So I think I want to try and
Jon Sorrentino: [00:07:40] have a few tidbits here but
Gabby Lord: [00:07:42] he was a convict.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:07:43] Yeah, yeah, yeah. He was a convict. He was actually born in Jamaica, Queens.
Gabby Lord: [00:07:49] Yeah. I didn't know that.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:07:51] This is all Wikipedia, so it could be just urban legend at this point. But Billy Blue, the school that you went to, this school that's named after him. Oh, he was a convict and he made his way to Australia through the, uh, serving in the British army.
Gabby Lord: [00:08:04] That makes sense. Yeah. We were told this at one point, but it's one of the things that's just like really glazed. I've also, I'm glad I at least got one thing right. I'm guessing that somebody in Australia as a convict isn't really,
Jon Sorrentino: [00:08:17] Um, what was the, what was the, your experience in going through a design school, you know, what was a journey for you.
Gabby Lord: [00:08:23] It was incredibly stressful. Yeah. Yeah. I feel like everyone talks about college like this really fun time, and it definitely was, but I personally found it very stressful. I was very fixated on grades and doing well, like basically having like the tick of approval from a lot of my lecturers. Um, but I also had an incredible group of peers, and I think that that was really integral to my uni years and even today in the sense that we all push each other to be really good, I guess.
Um, and they were really motivating and still are, like, I'm still friends with most of the people that I went to uni with and they're all working in the industry in multiple different countries now. And I think to this day, like they're still like really influential
Jon Sorrentino: [00:09:05] Are there than any designers or any people that you want to shout out that I could maybe go back and look at later.
Gabby Lord: [00:09:09] Definitely. Um, so when I went to. Kind of the three people that we were that were my best friends during that time, and we spent a lot of late nights together was Josh Davey. He's working in user experience design as, I mean, Sydney, they're, I mean, they're all on Australia and then Flick Erickson, she is in Melbourne, she's Swedish, she's an incredible brand designer, and then Penny Byron, and she is.
Kind of, she's shifted into a more of a UX role as well, and she's working at a university and Perth.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:09:38] That's cool. Yeah. One of the first roles as a designer kind of internships I saw was at a letterpress and design shop. And, um, it's cool that you mentioned that your grandfather was a calligrapher and I think of a letterpress shop is like dealing with typography, like just a lot.
Gabby Lord: [00:09:56] Yeah.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:09:56] What was, um, how, how did, how was that for your first internship?
Gabby Lord: [00:09:59] Um, it was really fun. It was, um. Yeah, this place called The Distillery, and it was learning a lot about production and press and print files and edge painting, and it was very tactile, like I think I was more of a production assistant than design per se, which was definitely super interesting.
Um, in terms of the production side, like for print, especially learning a lot about that as a, as a student who didn't really have any experience in making anything real. I think it was really eyeopenin.,
Jon Sorrentino: [00:10:31] when in my experience, the projects that you ended up doing in the school are always through like laser jets and you're just like redoing it over and over again.
Whereas in this letterpress kind of environment, you're doing, I'm sure, larger format, smaller formats as well. The variation between each project and kind of widen.
Gabby Lord: [00:10:48] It was a lot of business cards from memory. Um, but like constantly checking people's phone numbers to make sure their phone numbers were correct.
Cause I'll never forget this one girl right before her, it was a student as well. It's like right before her grad show and she spent hundreds of dollars on like a three color letterpress job and she messed up her phone number and I wanted, Oh my God, I felt so bad.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:11:07] Yeah. I mean I've been in a similar situation where it wasn't on you, so that was good, but it was on her and I'm sure she just, her stomach must've just fallen.
That's kind of tough. Especially three color letter, but I think around the same time, um, you come in contact with creative mornings or you start organizing for creative mornings. I've actually just learned about Tina and creative mornings as a whole in the last like two years and actually spoken to a guest on the season about it.
How did you come in contact with the organization?
Gabby Lord: [00:11:38] So I used to go a lot as a student. I was. Basically, we'd go to every single event possible in Sydney. Um, I think when you, because it didn't grow up there, I was like, didn't really have any friends when I first moved there. So the design industry was definitely where I found my people.
So yeah, I started attending the events, but then when I got my first full time job outside of uni, it was at a place called Houston group and one of the senior designers there, Maggie Tang, uh, she was organizing the event and I was the junior designer wanting to like help out as much as I could. And, um, yeah, it was like, Oh, I'd love to volunteer.
And then, um, eventually joined the organizing team who was, um, Flynn Tracy was running it at the time, so yeah, Maggie, um, Flynn, Max and I were all running it in Sydney and it was, yeah, it was an amazing time, actually.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:12:26] I can imagine learning a lot, meeting a ton of different people, not only through the events, but the people that are visiting and coming in and connecting as well.
Um, what are some of the takeaways that you had with that?
Gabby Lord: [00:12:36] Just how important community is, I guess, and what an incredible platform it can really be to like, you know, launch other people's voices as well, like as a pretty junior person at that time. It was really amazing to have a platform to be able to reach out to people and kind of approach them and ask them to come and speak and start a dialogue with people that may have seen, like kind of out of reach during that time.
Um, but if anything, I think it really just told me that no one is actually out of reach. Like everyone's just an email away and most people are more than happy to reply. Um, so yeah, it was really a learning experience.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:13:10] Emails are one of the easiest ways, but at times I find that I'll send an email, look back on and be like, why did I spell that word wrong?
Or like, why do I have an I after like, I'm just like, I sound, I don't know. I was just like typing with my hands glued together or something. Um, you're part of creative mornings. I was also able to find that you ended up working with one of my favorite design studios out in Australia, Christopher Doyle and co.
Gabby Lord: [00:13:35] Everyone says this.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:13:37] Is the work that the studio produces is, is I think I have an appreciation for his focus on messaging and copy and topography. I mean, I think you and I share a similar interest with big, bold type, like making sure that we're tagging type foundries on social media when we can. You know, what was that like to, first of all, how did you, how did that come about?
Gabby Lord: [00:14:00] So going to a lot of the design events as a student. Chris was obviously, he spoken a lot of them. Um, and I would just go out to him and constantly introduce myself and he would, he did forget.
Yeah. Reintroduce myself so I saw him. I'd be like, we've met before, so you're going to keep remembering me. And I would give him such a hard time.
And he's honestly like very good at that kind of thing, like remembering people's faces and he puts so much effort into the design community. I just love giving him shit about it. Um. But I originally came across him at a conference called AG Ideas in Melbourne. Um, and yeah, I just really loved his talk and anyone who's seen him do public speaking probably relates like, and yet to meet someone who has an enjoyed one of his talks.
Um, and then I think he was an Interbrand while I was at Houston, and when he decided to set up his own shop, um. He was working, yeah, mainly by himself. And then when I decided to quit my full time job and go freelance, he just actually just reached out to me on Twitter and was like, Hey, do you want to like do two weeks for me?
And then two weeks turned into six months. And then I left for Berlin, which he was super supportive of and I'm kind of glad that I had already decided I was going to do that because I think had I had gotten a job from him before that I probably wouldn't have left Australia. Um, but he's still like, to this day, like.
So supportive of all of my creative choices and life choices in general. Um, so yeah, we're still really tight and it was a really amazing experience.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:15:25] That's awesome. You mentioned that you eventually moved to Berlin and you spend four years there, um,
Gabby Lord: [00:15:31] Do not ask me to speak German please.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:15:33] No, no, no, absolutely not.
But you said that you made the decision while you're, I guess like, you know, working with Christopher, it was just to leave Australia. You were just like, I gotta get outta here.
Gabby Lord: [00:15:45] Kind of, yeah. Like I, Hmm. It's hard to not like reflect what I currently think about it onto that. Well, that thought process at the time, but I think that I just really knew that I wanted to work overseas and yeah, it just kind of seemed like I was hitting this point at my full time job where I was.
Not necessarily creatively satisfied. And I was like, Hey, maybe it's time to kind of go overseas. And how I originally thought that was going to happen is that I entered a competition to win a trip to do an internship either in New York or this place called Fabrica or in Italy. And I ended up winning the one for Italy.
And I went to Italy and I really didn't like it. And then I went to visit my friend Maggie, who was in. Who had moved to Berlin. This was the same senior designer who introduced me to creative mornings. So we stayed in, in contact when she moved to Berlin. And then when Fabrica didn't work out, I was just like, I don't really need this place to move.
I can just kind of do it anyway. So I was like, Oh, I'll just come to Bellin cause I've got some friends here and see what happens. I didn't necessarily intend to stay there. It was just kind of easy to get a visa and I was just like, Oh yeah, why not? I don't speak German, but sure this seems like a good idea.
And yeah, I definitely had no intention to stay there for four years. That still surprises. Just kind of stay that. Yeah,
Jon Sorrentino: [00:17:04] I'm surprised. So was it that you just didn't like Italy or didn't like Fabrica
Gabby Lord: [00:17:08] Italy is great for vacation. It's an amazing holiday destination. Pizza, pasta, Italian. So what's not to love?
Jon Sorrentino: [00:17:14] I feel like it's the only place that I could eat pizza every day and never feel like one ounce of like any sort of guilt.
Gabby Lord: [00:17:21] Yeah. It's. It's
Jon Sorrentino: [00:17:24] Like physically and mentally.
Gabby Lord: [00:17:25] Yeah. That's why it's good for vacation, right? You don't want a ruin that. You don't want to taint that and, yeah for me it was like a combination of things that. It's kind of a longer story. Sure. I've got a, yeah, I think that Italy is definitely not the place for me in terms of work.
Um, German work ethic was kind of more aligned with what I had in mind. Yeah.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:17:47] I kind of dug into some of the blog posts that you might have written, uh, during this time of, of being in Berlin and I came across this excerpt. There are three types of people that move abroad. Those who want to lose themselves, those who hope to find themselves and those who choose to invent themselves.
Which one, or is there an element of all of those that, uh, you think you might identify with?
Gabby Lord: [00:18:11] I would definitely identify with all of them. Um, yeah, I think I did definitely lose myself a little bit in Berlin. I think I found sides of myself that I wasn't expecting, but I think maybe the biggest draw of moving abroad for me was the idea of creating a life of my own choosing.
And. Figuring out like what else was out there and, and what I wasn't seeing in terms of the full picture of the world.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:18:35] You had mentioned that you had a friend out there and. We sort of talked about how creative mornings was that community for you in Australia. Were there things that you were doing or events that you were going to out in Berlin as well to kind of build that sense of community?
Gabby Lord: [00:18:48] Yeah, definitely. I mean, it was very different. I feel like the expat community was incredible in Berlin, and it still is. It's a very transient city, so your friends from everywhere all over, and it's kind of hard to find a proper Berliner in the same way, it's hard to find a proper new Yorker here. Yeah. I don't know why, but for some reason billing feels more transient than New York.
I feel like in New York, people do end up staying, like they'll come for a month and 10 years go by, whereas am, I don't really think that's as the case in Berlin, but yeah, creative mornings exists in Berlin. Um, there was also this amazing thing called Typo Berlin a conference there. It, um, I don't think it's on anymore though, but I used to do a work on the editorial team there, so it was the same kind of thing that I usually do, I just sign up for a bunch of stuff and hypes and meet a bunch of cool people through it and it hasn't let me down so far.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:19:40] Yeah. I, I remember as a kid trying to sign up for all this, I mean, this is not the same as an adult, but like in high school, it's sign up for all the school organizations go to them and about after a week or two, like five of them fall off to the side and you're like, yeah, I'll stick with these two.
It's like gaming club and like whatever. Um, I know, you know, I wasn't going to ask about your German, but I was hoping that you could tell me what the word. Prost means
Gabby Lord: [00:20:04] It means cheers.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:20:05] Cheers. And that is like very much used when you're out, like hanging out at a bar and drinking and things like that, which is very big in that area.
Gabby Lord: [00:20:12] Yes. It's very important.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:20:14] You, I think also start the newsletter. O M G Lord, while you're in Berlin, and this is sort of grown into a bigger thing in some ways, we're having a hard time of what it is exactly, but where does the newsletter start and how does that kind of allow you to grow and, and what has that been for you.
Gabby Lord: [00:20:35] Yeah, so moving to another country in the beginning, you don't necessarily have a lot of friends. Uh, so I of thought it was just a bit of a side project as well. Um, I think as well, I was someone who was constantly like sharing links with friends and having all these resources and information and like not necessarily having an outlet for that didn't really feel right to post it on Twitter or, I don't know. I just like, I didn't really have a space for the kind of content that I was collecting and wanting to share with my own perspective on it, I guess.
And then, yeah, so I started the newsletter in an attempt to be a better blogger, almost like, I hate using the word blogger because I just was never that, but I knew that I wanted to start writing more and have some accountability for, and a weekly newsletter kind of seemed like that accountability that I was lacking and really needing at that time.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:21:27] Do you remember what the very first email was? Yes.
Gabby Lord: [00:21:30] I don't know. I remember the resource in it. It was a onepassword and it was, it was basically just like a, you know, a hello world type time email. I think the first one, but I remember the resource of the week was existed from the very first email, and it's still in the newsletter today.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:21:47] Gotcha. Yeah, I've signed up, I think. A while ago and tweeted you when the site went down. So it's a email newsletter and then it was also a bunch of links on your personal site. And I remember on Twitter I was like, uh, this is down. What's going on? And since then it's been relaunched as this sort of like index or archive of a ton of different links.
What has been the feedback around it? I'm curious cause I think like I find so many little interesting topics in there. One being, you know, the podcast topic, I dig into there a little bit. Sustainability, I think you're having links and references that are at this time of like not only the political landscape, but design and climate change and all these things are, are really helpful.
And I'm curious as as if you've seen people reaching out to add even more, or you know, how are you kind of managing that.
Gabby Lord: [00:22:36] Not, well, just in general. Uh, well, I relaunched the design of the site mainly because I was looking at how people using the site and also the type of work that I wanted to be doing on it.
I, like I said, I was never, I never wanted to be a blogger per se. Like I definitely enjoy the longform writing and being reflective with my thoughts, but I don't like the pressure cooker of like, you have to have like a new blog post every day or. It's more about quantity than quality. And I don't, I only want to write when I like have something to say, not just putting things out for the sake of it.
Whereas I feel like a lot of the links and resources were something that people were visiting the site a lot for and I find it super helpful as well. Like if anything, the website is just something for me. And a byproduct is that other people find it useful too. And that's kind of how this whole thing has come about is that I think a lot of people think I do it full.
Certain reasons that aren't really correct. Like I actually mainly just do it for myself, as selfish as that sounds but...
Jon Sorrentino: [00:23:41] You know, I have this idea in the back of my head, very similar to the website where I have so many things in Pinterest, so many things in one thing or the other. It's like I just want to personalize Jon archive just for me and only I know how to navigate it in like a very unique way or something like that.
And it's sort of sounds like that is the intention behind it from the, from the start.
Gabby Lord: [00:24:00] Yeah. I think intention is a really good word, actually, in the sense that with Pinterest and even Instagram, like a lot of these platforms, it's more about. Again, just quantity, like you can really easily save things, whereas into intentionally write something down and file it in a way where you're like, this is useful, kind of has to pass a certain pressure test to make it onto the site.
Um, yeah. It's, it's quality control. It's good.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:24:25] I believe that you can tell me if I'm wrong, a passion for typography.
Gabby Lord: [00:24:29] Yes.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:24:29] Um, I tend to nerd out a lot over new fonts and finding new fonts and trying to use them in any possible situation. But not only that, but. A lot of your work, you tend to explore also elements of photography and illustration.
And I'm curious if that's like something that you are looking to achieve over time as you grow as, as a designer, um, or if that's being able to stay fluent in those categories when the situations arise to know how to step in and kind of, you know, direct or whatever it may need to be.
Gabby Lord: [00:25:00] Yeah, I think it's more about remaining a Jack of all trades.
I think that I'm too. I'm just not able to focus on one thing, basically. Like I love a lot of different things and I think I accepted a long time ago that I'm never really going to be the best at any one of those things. And yeah, so it's mainly just whatever I have an interest in at the time. I think that it took me a while to figure it out, but I'm definitely a brand designer in the sense of thinking about things holistically.
And so I think you need to have an understanding, even if it was just a basic level understanding of a lot of things to kind of see the bigger picture and have empathy for all the people who are rolling something out that maybe you can't do yourself, and being able to understand that language and appreciate the value and effort that they bring to a project,
Jon Sorrentino: [00:25:44] I think that's a big pill to swallow for some people.
I know it was for me for awhile where I felt like I had to do everything really well. And doing this podcast have been able to talk to a few people that, you know, we've talked about like being a generalist versus a specialist, and there's a lot of value in being able to kind of speak all these different facets of design and creativity versus saying being able to knock out like an amazing photograph. And then also being able to edit it and like throw the type on there and something like that. Like. It's great when you can do those experiments or those projects, but um, it's better to facilitate the idea than it is to execute completely all from beginning to finish.
Gabby Lord: [00:26:22] It's just a lot to expect of anyone to begin with and the rate of that software updates and trying to stay on top of all of that.
It's, it's a lot to be an incredible photographer, to know how to code, to know how to write, to know how to put a brand presentation together and actually pitch an idea. So I think that there's kind of two really important things, and that's one, recognizing what you enjoy doing. And two. What you're good at that falls under that and kind of putting those two together, because there's a lot of things that I'm good at that I really don't enjoy to hang. And it took a me, a really long time to figure out that I don't have to do it just cause I'm good at it.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:27:00] I remember taking a, I don't know why I just like decided I was going to lean into coding and I was like, yeah, I'm going to be like this designer that codes all these cool fancy things.
And there are people that are like that. There are amazing people that are able to think of a really crazy experiment or execution and like build it like that. And I think, I love that idea, but I learned after like three books from Amazon and I was not going to be able to just jam all the coding knowledge into my head.
It just never stuck. On your website, on your portfolio. You have worked with clients and partners like red bull. Um, I also want to call it Ableton cause I'm familiar with them and I think there is such a cool brand.
Super. Awesome. Um, you've also worked with, been able to work with in Australian French cafe, but you've also been able to make a book around shit, your friends, Sharon says
Gabby Lord: [00:27:53] she's gonna kill me that this has come up.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:27:55] Well, I think it's great cause you know, I'm curious, how much of your work is that like professional or the work that you show is professional versus say like passion is for more of the tickling that side of your brain or getting that kind of creative like bug out.
Gabby Lord: [00:28:12] Yeah. Oh God, she's going to kill me for this.
But, um, there was actually, there's a version two that has just happened last weekend, so I just spent the weekend in Vegas. Uh, and it was for her 30th birthday. And then Christoph, who was the illustrator for the original book Shit Sharon says, we teamed up again and cause she was turning 30, we knew we had to make a big deal out of it.
Um, and we actually did like a little installation here in the Character Studio because she was in New York. Um, so he did another bunch of illustrations that were based on a song that I wrote for her.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:28:46] You wrote a song?
Gabby Lord: [00:28:47] We wrote a song, it's a Limerick, which is a traditional Irish song. She's Irish. And, um. We turned it into like a karaoke song.
So again, like I roped a ton of people into this project and blew up so much bigger than I was expecting, but he did all these illustrations that were based on the lyrics and then Shu one of the designers here at character, I roped her into like doing the animation for me and turning it into a karaoke type song.
And then we did temporary tattoos and it just, it
Jon Sorrentino: [00:29:14] So awesome.
Gabby Lord: [00:29:15] Yeah, it was a huge thing. So I need to document all of it cause yeah, it just got out of control really quickly. But she simultaneously wants to kill us and loves us for doing it at the same time. But
Jon Sorrentino: [00:29:25] yeah. Why are you making such a big deal out of this guys?
Gabby Lord: [00:29:28] Yeah. Cause she's amazing. Yeah. She's incredible. So
Jon Sorrentino: [00:29:31] This is an example of like a passion project though, right? Where it's just like fully for the love of doing it. And. And for your friend as well.
Gabby Lord: [00:29:39] I think it's, some people have like, Oh, I need to do a side project, so I got to think of something. For me, it's more like I feel like I'm going to explode if this idea doesn't come out of me in some way.
Like I almost almost like I can't carry this any longer. I need to like put it out side of me, if that makes sense. I think that's also how the newsletter came about as well.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:29:57] If you don't, do you just like actually explode and then regenerate as well?
Gabby Lord: [00:30:02] Pretty much, I might spontaneously combust. I haven't let it get that far, but I would probably just describe myself as a high functioning, anxious person. So if I'm not doing things and feeling productive, I'd, yeah, don't feel great.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:30:16] Are you a virgo?
Gabby Lord: [00:30:17] I knew you were going to ask me this. I was leading into this cause you are going to ask me what sign I am. This is such a New York thing too.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:30:25] It's funny cause I worked on a, uh, I've worked on a horoscope app in the last two years.
So I'm like super educated now. I mean, not the best, but I know what I am and I know what the qualities are of that.
Gabby Lord: [00:30:36] literally been asked by if Im a virgo so many times since moving to New York. I'm a Virgo moon.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:30:41] I don't know what that means. So yeah, that's above that's way above me.
Gabby Lord: [00:30:44] Okay. So my main sign is Taurus.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:30:47] Okay.
Gabby Lord: [00:30:47] But then apparently have three signs. This is something that I learned as well. So one of my signs is bad guy. Okay. Uh, which actually, now that I'm learning more about it makes a lot of sense. So yes, I am in a way.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:30:59] I don't know. I don't want to figure out those other two planets. So, so this mix of, of passion projects and professional projects.
Do you think that over time it sorta changes where eventually they just sort of converge and you're just doing only the stuff that you love? Or is it always going to be like, do you always imagine it being like this mix and one always wins out more than the other, and so in certain situations,
Gabby Lord: [00:31:22] yeah, I don't know.
I feel like that's the constant struggle. Right? But I also feel like things like the chit Sharon says, or. Version two, which is Holy shit, Sharon's 30. Um, things like that. Like, they don't, they're never going to have a professional, um, lens to them in the sense that they're not commercially viable in a lot of ways.
You know, like, and I think the reason why I can have so much fun with those projects is because I never feel the pressure to look through that lens. And it's a really. I think in my, at least for me, I need that contrast of like having very specific client work, the type of work that I do at character, which I also really enjoy.
It's not to say that I don't love that work. I think that that's also something that's important to define. I think there's a lot of value in both sides to it, but then. Things like the side projects that are literally just stupid creative outlets to make my friend laugh, then I think that's, that's something that really fuels the work I do at Character and vice versa.
So, um, I feel like a lot of the work that I've done here and have learned from, um, the creative directors and partners in New York, um, Manny and Virgilio is that. You know, everything is connected and, and different things feed the other. So a lot of the work that I've done here and they've influenced, definitely affects the, the side projects that I do and the work that I did for Sharon as well.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:32:46] Um, so you're now at character here in New York and Dumbo. You went straight from Berlin to New York, correct? Or did you, was there a time, a little moment back in Sydney or back in Australia?
Gabby Lord: [00:32:57] I mean, the cliff notes. It was via. So I did go back to Australia, but I went all over Australia. It was like Newcastle, Tamworth, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth a few times around.
And then I went to Hawaii, and then I went to New York, and then Peru, and then San Francisco. Oh. And Barbados in there somewhere too. And then back to New York. So I basically, we've done a suitcase for like three months and traveled around. That's awesome. I'm chasing a visa pretty much. And then.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:33:29] Just kind of waiting for it to, to land somewhere.
Gabby Lord: [00:33:32] Pretty much. I mean, that's why I had to go to Barbados was to get my visa. I was, it was terrible
Jon Sorrentino: [00:33:37] Barbados for a visa?
Gabby Lord: [00:33:38] Yeah. Yeah. In Australia, like you, you can get this visa and you can't get it within the United States.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:33:46] So you have to go there, pick it up. Sounds like a super Mario game where you have to get items.
What drew you to character or you know, like what was that process like of, of finding a studio that you identified with and how you landed here?
Gabby Lord: [00:34:01] I was definitely looking for a branding studio. That was something that I was really intentional about and was doing a lot of research into the type of studios in New York and Character has been in San Francisco for 20 years, but they've only recently opened up in New York maybe two years ago.
And how I kind of came across that was. Through a random Slack group that, I mean, um, people were talking about how this guy Virgilio was leaving RGA and starting up a place in New York, and I wasn't even really like chatting in this group or anything. I just kind of like watching it unfold. I was like, what is this about?
Like I didn't really know that they had a New York studio and then a lot of the people in this group were from RGA and had worked with him and were speaking really highly of him and it was a private slack channel, you know, like they didn't have to be saying these things. It wasn't going anywhere. So I was like, who is this guy?
I'm going to have to. Look into that.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:34:55] Send an email.
Gabby Lord: [00:34:55] Yeah. Yeah. So that's kinda how it came about originally.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:34:59] You're a senior designer now, and having also recently went through this sort of level shift, right? Like your designer, junior designer. It's sort of like a little vague gray area of just like you're doing and making stuff.
Do you find that being a senior designer now, the roles and responsibilities has sort of changed and shifted slightly.
Gabby Lord: [00:35:17] Um, yes and no. Like I think there's definitely like a responsibility in terms of way you are in a studio and what you are expected to bring to the table. Um, but I even think as a junior designer, like I had really high expectations of myself and what I was expected to deliver, whether my creative directors felt that way or not.
I've always put an probably an insane amount of pressure on myself to be. Performing. So yeah, I would say yes in terms of like the output, but maybe not in terms of internal dialogue.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:35:50] I think like over time and in the last two, three years as a designer here in New York, personally, I feel like I've had to learn so much in the last year or so.
Like I've had to teach myself new things. I've had to like learn new platforms and stuff like that. And I'm curious if you find yourself having to learn new things on the go and how do you think the role of a designer is changing? Like it's not just like InDesign and Photoshop, it's not like that at all anymore.
Gabby Lord: [00:36:17] It's all the things.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:36:18] And this is like only five years, which is kind of nuts.
Gabby Lord: [00:36:22] It's going to get worse too. I think coming back to the point were talking about before, like you can't be expected to be exceptional at all of these areas, but be there. There has to be a willingness to learn otherwise. It's just not going to happen for you.
You know, like, I think different studios require different things and I've definitely taken away a lot from each of the places that I've worked, whether that be branding at, um, a place like Houston or art direction and smile in the mind type ideas from someone like Chris. Um, too, I learned a lot about coding and web design in Berlin, and now I feel like I'm collectively using all of those things back in, working in a branding studio.
But here we have like a very, we do a lot of motion, for example, and I am absolutely shocking at after effects. I panic every time. I'm just like, Ugh. Um, but we have a lot of really talented motion designers, and I feel like that's something that I'm definitely switching gears into, whether that's.
Just the thinking in motion and understanding like that language, because I feel like I don't understand that at all. At least I didn't when I started and I'm slowly kind of getting a better grasp on motion design, even if that's just like knowing how to set up the files to hand over to a motion designer.
It really is. Yeah. So I think like again, collaborating with people and having that like shared empathy for what their part of the project is and kind of figuring out how best to work together to realize an idea.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:37:49] As roles of our day to day jobs changed ever so slightly. We'll have to kind of run with the punches.
Um, are there any goals that you have or you're holding personally for yourself and either your career or just like outside of being a designer every day?
Gabby Lord: [00:38:06] I'm always, I guess, I don't know. I'm always striving to be better. I definitely, I think that. There is never going to be an end point to that feeling, and I think I accepted that a long time ago, and for people that know me, you just have had to accept that about me as well, that there's never going to be like an end to the madness, I don't think
Jon Sorrentino: [00:38:28] Just run off the side of the world basically.
Gabby Lord: [00:38:30] Yeah. I mean, I just think that that's part of it is just continually learning and trying to be better at being a designer. And I don't think that necessarily means better on the tools. You know, I think it just means getting better in general. Like if you're a better person than you do, you're generally a better designer and vice versa.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:38:51] I agree with that. Gabby, where can people find more of your work and potentially stay in contact with you?
Gabby Lord: [00:38:57] Well, I have two websites, so at gabbylord.com or at omglord.com
Jon Sorrentino: [00:39:02] and OMG Lord is the wonderful index archives. Yes. Collection of resources.
Gabby Lord: [00:39:07] Probably go there first. It's probably more useful to be honest.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:39:11] Gabby, thank you so much for joining me today.
Gabby Lord: [00:39:12] Thanks for having me.