May 15, 2019
Design Alumna Abby Ward Has Crafted a Creative Career
By Jessica Keast
Behind every creative force, there is great inspiration.
Abby (Lynn) Ward (CFA 2006) fell in love with photography in high school, delighting in documenting her family, friends and family vacations in photographs. Today, she plays a leading role in shaping the brand image of one of the world’s best-known fashion companies, Tory Burch.
“My love of photography and travel naturally progressed into the world of fashion and informs a lot of what I do today — I’m always gathering inspiration from people and places,” Ward says.
When it came time to apply to colleges, Ward’s mom encouraged her to pursue photography and design at Carnegie Mellon in the hopes that Ward would gain the skills for fields such as marketing, editorial writing and advertising.
“I visited many schools,” Ward says, “but the one thing I was really looking for was diversity in the student body and the community. Being in a more urban environment afforded me access to involvement in the community.”
Ward left her home in upstate New York for the city of bridges, where she quickly found a new home in the university’s design studios and the chance to work with design faculty Dylan Vitone, and Charlee Brodsky who introduced her to the photography dark room.
“I visited many schools, but the one thing I was really looking for was diversity in the student body and the community. Being in a more urban environment afforded me access to involvement in the community.”
She decided to broaden her skillset beyond her core design work and undertook a business minor, completing a series of courses in entrepreneurship, HTML, flash and digital imaging.
Real-world experiences supplemented her class work. As Ward quickly connected with locals in her field and continued to build a stunning resume with powerful portfolio pieces from experiences assisting local businesses with creative direction and freelance advertising.
After graduation, Ward used the university’s alumni network and sought the insight of John Korpics, the creative director for NYC’s popular women’s magazine InStyle to secure a role as assistant photo editor at InStyle.com.
From InStyle, she moved to Tory Burch into a new breakout position as the company’s first web designer in 2009.
“We took our print and editorial experience to create Tory Daily, an inspirational destination that combines style, culture, travel, entertaining and music for a unique online magazine experience,” she explains.
Ward was employee number 104 in a company that has grown to more than 3,000 employees today. She has risen to the position of artistic director and has continued to grow and evolve with the company— working in New York for half of her career and in Los Angeles the other half.
Ward explains the job is “all about storytelling.” She directs a photoshoot at least once a week in places like Santa Barbara and Malibu. Other days she designs layouts and formats posts for Tory Daily. Ward explains that every Tory clothing collection has a unique theme: “A trip to India, a French film from the 60’s, East Coast meets West Coast.”
“It still feels like a dream,” she says of the role and of being with a company whose core beliefs align with her own.
When Ward isn’t working, she is spending time with her husband and five-month-old son Will.
Though her time at CMU is well behind her, Ward says she has her education to thank for teaching her how to combine the creative and the technical. “Having the creative vision, designing and photographing, editing and then coding and optimizing for web. I’m able to see projects through from start to finish.” she says. “My background is so unique in that sense.”