Abby McCarthy

‘The Lion Tamer’


Bachelor of Visual Communications – Design (Honours)
Certificate IV Business


As co-principal of Neon Zoo, I went into business with fellow graduate Clare Gleeson to form Neon Zoo back in 2007. After working on several group projects together in Uni and discovering our shared love of fancy dress parties, we decided to make a ‘go-of-it’ and start a business together.

Starting from the sunroom of a shared apartment in Bar Beach, we began the steep learning curve of running a business and grew to love the daily challenges we’d overcome along the way.

We have now just celebrated our 6th birthday at the ‘Zoo’ and we are continuing to grow and develop our small studio so that we can offer our clients an amazing experience and creative designs to boot!

What inspires you?

I have always loved to travel and try to get overseas and discover a new places and cultures as often as I can. Being the daughter of two art teachers, it has been ingrained in me to visit as many galleries, museums and public/street art as possible, so I always find this to be inspiring when I travel.

What’s your creative process?

I do a lot of research when developing design concepts, this includes a fair few rough sketches, some unreadable notes and a very messy art board. All of us in studio collaborate each of the projects in one sense or another, so there is a lot of back and fourth, reworking and revising before the finished concept.

What led you to the ZOO?

Clare and I started the ‘ZOO’ back in 2007 after freelancing together for a few years. At the time we were applying for jobs in Sydney and we were not really wanting to move for jobs that weren’t that inspiring. I guess wanting to stay in Newcastle and have a little bit more creative freedom was the main motivator for us starting the Neon Zoo.

What’s next for you?

We will continue to grow Neon Zoo and it’s client base. Clare and I are also looking at collaborating on a few side projects that we are looking at launching early next year.

How do you start your day?

Generally, if I’m being good, I will go for a run or to the gym. I then walk into work and grab a coffee from Saluna on my way. At the moment, I am trying my hardest to eat breakfast each day, so I pack this and eat it at work whilst reading my morning emails. Once that is done, we try and do a traffic whereby we go through all of the active projects and their status.

What’s a good day?

If I have been for a run, walked into work, had a coffee and breakfast by 9am…then that usually set’s the mood for the rest of the day!

Tea or coffee?

Both 🙂

Dog or cat?

Dog. His name is Busta (pictured)

I am the gal to talk to if you are looking to work with us on your next project, so feel free to email or call me to discuss. or 02 4009 1376

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