Abbie Reilly: Wallpaper* Next Generation 2021

Our Next Generation 2021 showcase shines a light on 21 outstanding graduates from around the globe, Wallpaper’s pick of the best new talent in seven creative fields. Here, we profile the illustrator and Birmingham City University graduate, Abbie Reilly.

Illustrations by Abbie Reilly
(Image credit: Abbie Reilly)

British illustrator Abbie Reilly graduated from Birmingham City University’s illustration course. Her approach to image-making is shaped by writing and sketching. ‘I usually keep a sketchbook full of lists of ideas and elements, rather than preliminary illustrations – I sketch out elements of each idea and then translate this digitally and almost jigsaw each element together,’ she says.

Citing Birmingham’s brutalist architecture and harsh shapes among her inspirations, she’s also relatively new to colour. ‘I have endless battles with finding harmony in the colours I use,’ she says, ‘Even though my work is digital, I'm quite tactile when it comes to working, so having a physical colour palette is the best way for me to create the right tone and feel for my illustrations.’

Abbie Reilly

Abbie Reilly. Dream collaborator: ‘I would say Carhartt WIP. For the past few years, I have been surrounded by skate culture and always respected the brand for championing diverse styles of illustration.’

(Image credit: press)

The showcased project grew out of creative struggles in lockdown. ‘These visuals are based around lockdown meditation within the home, inspired by Adam Martin’s GABA meditation podcast.’ The visuals are ‘almost a form of self-portrait, of how I felt at the time, basically battling to relax’.

Illustration by Abbie Reilly of a person sitting in a pink room next to some steps with plants

(Image credit: Abbie Reilly)

Illustration by Abbie Reilly of a house and people

(Image credit: Abbie Reilly)


Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.