Spotlight: Nicholas Asbury

nick-asbury-spotlightFormer 26 newsletter editor Nick Asbury tells Elen Lewis about his new exhibition, After Hours, some feel-good wisdom from his Disappointments Diary and the novels he hasn’t read.

What’s your day job?
Writing for design. Also writing with design, alongside design, about design, without design, near design, and occasionally despite design.

What are your private passions?
Mainly poetry: reading, reviewing and writing it. Some people might wish I kept it more private than I do.

What do people get wrong about you?
I guess a lot of people still think I live in London. I live near Macclesfield, although I come to London fairly often.

What do you like best about belonging to 26?
I’m not as actively involved as I used to be – other things in life have taken over a bit. I think it’s evolved primarily into a vehicle for business writers to get involved in extra-curricular projects and collaborations, providing a creative outlet beyond the day job. There must be hundreds of writers who have benefited from that over the years and I’m one of them.

As a former editor of 26, how would you describe it/us (in 26 words)
An organisation with no address, staff or logo, yet mysteriously effective and enduring for all that. And with a weird numbers fetish for a writing organisation.

What advice would you offer fellow 26ers on earning a living as a writer?
My accountant would laugh ruefully at that. One freelancing tip would be to maintain some kind of dual perspective – bring in the work to pay the bills every month, but try to look up occasionally and think about the longer term. I do my best to maintain a good work-life balance, although it’s not always simple. I find I always need to have some kind of personal project going on, but it feels like it complements the paying work rather than conflicting with it – I find I’m more productive when I’m busy.

What’s After Hours?
It’s an exhibition curated by Nick Eagleton of The Partners about graphic designers’ personal projects. It’s on at the Jerwood Space in London until 23rd June, free admission. I got involved as the sole writer in the mix, exhibiting 30 framed Pentones. (Pentone is the verbal equivalent of Pantone, involving written ‘swatches’ of different tones of voice.) We’ve produced a Pentone Boxset to go with it, which is available at Disappointments Diary and Corpoetics are also featured on a reading table in the gallery. Self-interest aside, it’s a great exhibition with real variety, wit and craft. More information at

What does the Disappointments Diary say for 26th May?
This week it’s ‘A penny saved is simply not enough.’ Next week it’s ‘Genius is 99% perspiration and you’ve mastered that bit.’

What’s your best piece of advice for good writing?
Avoid self-conscious asides.

What are you working on now?
Right now, about to go on holiday for a week. Over the last few months, a jarring combination of charity and high-end property work.

Tell us a secret.
I haven’t read a novel in three years.

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