First published November 26, 2021
Get to know Leah, a London-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator with a STUNNING portfolio. She’s worked on projects for some of the most exciting brands during her 10+ year career (hello Dreamworks Animation, Island Records, Adidas…) whilst simultaneously forging a freelance career as a Book Cover Designer. We couldn’t love the cover of The Day I Fell Off My Island, by Yvonne Bailey Smith, more! Read on for Leah’s take on elitism in the design industry, plus, an insight into the work she’s most proud of, and the skills she wants to master in the future.
Leah, what’s your creative occupation?
I am a London-based graphic designer and illustrator with over ten years of experience in packaging, branding, and book cover design.
Where have you been?
I was born and raised in South East London to a culturally Jamaican family and the creative arts have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember! I had what I think of as a pretty generic introduction to the design world; working my way through Art & Design GCSEs, A-Levels, and Diplomas until I eventually got my degree in Graphic Design several years ago. I’ve spent most of my career working in various London graphic design agencies, creating and developing everything from print and marketing campaigns to branding and packaging designs for several high-profile companies. Alongside this, I also have a separate career as a freelance book cover designer, working with a range of established and independent publishers to create typographic and illustrative designs for both the book’s cover and interior.
I’ve always found that the design industry can tend to be quite elitist and, although it is becoming more diverse, I think more could be done to improve that. LEAH ON DIVERSITY & ELITISM IN DESIGN
Where are you now?
While the branding side of my career has always been quite consistent, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the immense growth of the book cover design side. Over the past year, I have been fortunate enough to work on some amazing projects within the publishing world. The work I am most proud of has been the projects which hero black voices within the design and publishing world (such as the cover illustration I did for The Black Issue of The Bookseller magazine) and hopefully I’ll be able to do more of this in the coming years.
Where are you going?
Always growing and improving! I’ve always found that the design industry can tend to be quite elitist and, although it is becoming more diverse, I think more could be done to improve that. I’d love to eventually be able to pass on the knowledge I’ve gained over the course of my career by mentoring young black women coming into the industry as I did ten years ago. As well as this, there are so many skills I’d love to add to my repertoire (such as motion, web and 3D design) and I’m always trying to find a moment to study them. So long story short, the answer to your question is probably, “busy”!
Finally, what’s occupying your thoughts today?
Trying to find the balance between designing constantly and finding time to rest!