Abi Meats

Graduated – 1994


Abi Meats is the currently creative director and co-founder of Rude Studios. The studio established a successful fashion label back in the early noughties, at the same time becoming one of he originators of the hand drawn aesthetic that is often imitated today. A refusal to be tied to any one medium has led to a varied and interesting career, allowing Abi to apply her ideas and trademark style to everything from products
to music videos.

The Disciples of Design Q&A

What’s the story behind the formation of Rude Studio?
After having the most amazing time at Preston I had a succession of graphics jobs working for various agencies, then turned freelance with a view to setting up my own business. Right from the start I knew that pure graphics wasn’t for me and had a frustrating time trying to work out exactly what I wanted to do hence enrolling myself onto a succession of courses including screen printing, upholstery, photography, film and weirdly a spot of hospital DJing (fortunately that didn’t lead anywhere). Over the years I came to use all these skills in one way or another, except the DJing.

I then met Rupert my business partner (and now husband) whilst working at Stocks Austin Sice. He was starting a fashion label at the time and we decided to go into business together using the graphics work to finance the clothing label. By applying graphics to something rather than paper was incredibly inspirational for me and ultimately led to an unrestrained career.

Rude has now evolved into a design collective applying graphics and prints to textiles, websites, moving image, packaging and pretty much anything you can think of. Over the years we have produced countless clothing collections with numerous catalogues, commissioned projects and installations.

More recently I have been using our trademark illustration style and applying
it to animation and film. Amongst others our clients include UK Vogue, Renault, PJ Smoothie, Polydor Records, BMI, Nokia, Capital Radio, Vespa and the Tate Modern.

Who or what inspires you?
My work is really varied and so are my influences, I guess they include; Elley Kishomoto, Paul Smith, Supermundane, Koen Brothers, Peepshow, Shane Meadows, Michel Gondry, Orla Keily, Jasper Johns, Patti Smith… the list goes on.

How has the industry changed over the years in your experience?

Everyone seems incredibly accessible now, you can email people you may have never dared pick up the phone to in the past. Also you can project a professional looking body of work online and no one would know if you were a graduate or an established business. I also love the fact that friends and work have become more entwined with social networking sites, it doesn’t replace physically meeting people but it’s a start.

I’ve recently been impressed with a couple of designers who just graduated and are organising collaborations and ’special projects’ by associating themselves with the cream of designers, illustrators etc and by those involvements they have put themselves right out there just by being innovative in the way they approach work.

How do you generate ides? Do you prefer to collaborate or think alone?
Bits of both, I often have a seed of an idea that I allow to grow and work itself out over time. That seed can come from anywhere from something my son has said to an article in the paper or a lyric of a song. I love the thought of bringing people and ideas together and see where they go, that way there are no any real boundaries.

What would you have done differently at University knowing what you know now?
I remember getting quite uptight about creating finished looking pieces, i.e., a set of stationary, or a fully mocked up piece of packaging to look as professional as possible, when to me the fun is coming up with the idea and putting it in context but not getting too hung up on the way a lid closes for instance. All that stuff can be worked out when you’re employed.

What’s the best thing about your job?
I’m fortunate enough to work on a real cross section of jobs with equally as diverse clients. One minute I can be designing a textile print for a clothing label to making an animation or short film. I’ve always strived to apply my work to as many mediums as possible.

What is the most unusual thing you have done in your career?
I created some images of Elvis, Marilyn Monroe and the Queen out of fruit and vegetables for a kitchenware brand, which subsequently led to a meeting with Paul McCartney asking us if we could make an image of him and could we make his hair out of green beans! The best thing about it was dancing with him to Elvis on his juke box in his office in Soho Square.

What do you look for in graduates and their portfolios?
Difference, pure creativity, originality and a sense of humor.

Any advice for students entering the industry during the recession?
Be as innovative as you can, recessions are a time for creativity, people always want to employ someone with flare and energy.


Camera Table - Rude

Glastonbury Covers - Guardian