alumni UBC’s afterwords is a digital conversation series that shares the stories of some of UBC Okanagan’s extraordinary alumni.
Meet ASHLEIGH GREEN
1. What is your current profession?
Freelance Illustrator and Graphic Designer.
2. What education did you receive at UBC?
Bachelor of Fine Arts (2014) with a major in visual art.
3. What do you think makes UBC Okanagan great?
UBC Okanagan is in a great location and its smaller size makes it perfect for building connections and networking.
4. If you could start university again, would you do anything differently?
Yes! I would have taken business courses alongside the Fine Arts program. Working as a freelance artist is so much more than just being creative. You have to be able to negotiate contracts, market your work, attract clients, keep track of finances, etc. and it all requires a business foundation.
5. What was your first official job after graduation?
I have been freelancing since my undergrad days at UBCO, but after graduating and travelling to Artist Residencies in NYC and Iceland, I landed my first office job as a graphic designer at a small local marketing studio.
6. What is the best part of your current job?
It's such a pleasure to create work that goes out into the world and becomes part of something that people interact with — like T-shirts, beer cans, and art prints.
7. What are some of the challenges you have faced in your career?
When I was first starting out, the business side of being a freelancer was incredibly daunting. Through books, online courses, and building relationships with other freelancers, I have built up the skill set and knowledge that have brought me to where I am today.
8. What would you like to share with current students who will be graduating in the coming years who have concerns with the current work climate?
There is definitely room for you in the illustration and design world. Find your niche, hone your own voice, and keep creating work that brings value and joy to your audience. Don't worry about what everybody else is creating; simply focus on how you can create the best products, services, tools, etc. for your clients and customers.
9. What's the best advice you can give to help plan a career?
The world of illustration and design looks different for each artist. I would recommend trying several different avenues at the start of your career to find out what works for you, whether that's logo design, pattern design, editorial illustration, branding, web design, etc. Once you figure out your niche and know where to direct your skill set, you can focus on growth.
10. Do you have a mentor? How have they influenced you?
I learned a lot at the start of my freelancing career by working under Amber Richart of Richart Studios, owner of her own freelance graphic design studio.
11. What is something you continually find yourself saying?
I try to keep in mind the idea that finished is better than perfect. You will grow much faster if you focus on producing work and developing new ideas without overanalyzing and worrying about whether the work is perfect or not.
12. How do you balance your work and home life?
I try to stick to a schedule of work time and down time each day. Since I work from home, boundaries can get a bit blurry. It helps to get out of the studio and spend a few hours doing a completely different activity — like skiing — to take a mental break and come back to work with a fresh mindset.
13. Where do you volunteer or how do you give back to your community?
I worked with the “In This Together” project that used T-shirt sales to raise money for small businesses in the service industry across the Okanagan that were impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns.
14. Do you have any books that you would suggest are a must read?
The Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines is a must for freelancers who are just starting out.
15. Who is one UBC Okanagan alum you would like to nominate for afterwords?
Liz Ranney. We’ve connected through Instagram and I’ve always loved seeing her murals pop up across the Okanagan. Liz is a great example of an alum who has continued to pursue her art — especially in a community-focused way.