Gemma Leggett, York-Based Graphic Designer & Illustrator

April 3, 2020 10:29 am | Published by | Leave your thoughts

Everyday People Being Marvellous  


We’re in week two of COVID-19 lockdown, I’m focusing on staying positive and hopeful and doing my little bit to support Yorkshire’s business community. As almost 100% remote working has become our new reality, more and more people are beginning to understand the valuable role freelancers can play in helping businesses grow. I am proud to say that Everyday People has some truly wonderful people as members, so if you ever need a hand finding a freelancer to work with, take a look at our directory of Yorkshire-based Freelancers

Before the world turned upside down I had a chat with Everyday People Member Gemma Leggett, an extremely talented and motivated York-based graphic designer and Illustrator. 


Which is the most enjoyable project you have worked on?

I really loved working on the artwork for The Wicker Husband for Watermill Theatre.

The Wicker Husband is a new musical based on a folk tale and the artwork to accompany it needed to be a little whimsical to reflect the folk tale roots with a strong emphasis on a woven, wicker look.

The lettering and willow tree silhouette we’re created using a lot of twig photographs and Photoshop to manipulate and intertwine these.

How do you get inspiration?

Inspiration can strike anywhere. From curated online sources such as Designspiration or Dribble to old typography and signage whilst I’m out and about, packaging in shops through to films, TV and music.

I’m a massive fan of Annie Atkins who is a graphic designer in the film and TV industry creating props such as old telegrams, packaging, posters and signage. I find that fascinating. Her new book is on my birthday wish list.

What is your ideal job? 

I love being able to combine typography, Illustration and photo-manipulation. A lot of my clients are Theatres and creating Key Art for their productions allows me to use these skills. No theatre production is the same, one could be an absorbing drama and the next a fun Pantomime and I thoroughly enjoy this variety and challenge.

What one thing do you wish you had known before you became a freelancer?

How many ‘hats’ I would need to wear. I was aware it wouldn’t be easy but didn’t realise just how much time I would spend being ‘business development manager’, ‘marketer’, ‘bookkeeper’ and ‘admin assistant’!

How do you keep your skills up-to-date? 

I like a combination of face to face learning and following online articles and tutorials. I’m currently taking an evening class in photography at York College and learning about responsive web design through Stack Skills. 

What are your three top productivity tips?

  1. Use technology to your advantage. It can be hard to keep on top of everything when running your own business but there are plenty of services and apps that can help you keep on track. I use Asana for planning work and making task lists, Toggl for keeping track of how long I’m spending on jobs and QuickBooks for keeping a track of my finances.
  2. Try to keep to a schedule so you’re home life and work stay a little separated. It doesn’t have to be the traditional 9-5 unless you’re working in-house for a client. I’m not particularly a morning person so I tend to arrive at my shared office at about 10am but work through until 6pm.

  3. Take a walk or other exercise. Sometimes if I’m feeling a little stuck this can help clear my head and motivate me when I get back to my desk. Swimming is great for this as you can’t look at phone screens or other distractions.

What is your ultimate professional goal?

I’d love to get to a point where I’m running a small agency specialising in Theatre, Arts, Entertainment and Leisure marketing. It would be great to be in a position to be able to offer young creatives more opportunities in York.

You’re based in York what local support is there available for freelancers? 

I’ve found lots of great support and groups in York. I’m from York originally but have spent many years living in Nottingham and only moved back at the end of 2018. Not knowing many people in the area anymore, I looked to networking groups and found MPWR  (previously Women Mean Business) and York Creatives. I found a very warm welcome within the groups and have made some great friends as well as having a source of advice and support. Schemes that I’ve found helpful are Ad:venture and Enterprise Made Simple.




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