Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Julia Hell (JH) for A’ Design Awards and Competition. You can access the full profile of Julia Hell by clicking here.
Interview with Julia Hell at Wednesday 20th of April 2016
FS: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
JH: My interest in arts and design accompanies me since my childhood. I always enjoyed visiting exhibitions and creating things myself. For example I attended drawing and painting classes twice a week starting at age thirteen. I studied graphic design at Lette-Verein in Berlin for three years.
FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
JH: I am a one woman design studio. Currently I am working as a freelancer in different positions. 2-3 days for a larger client inhouse and the rest of the week for my other clients from my home studio. I really enjoy the different ways of working on those projects. Personally I like the experiences in the very different work environments, being around other people at the office twice a week and also having the solitude of my home office. These are two very different ways of working but it really is a mixture of those completely different things that inspire me the most.
FS: What is "design" for you?
JH: Design is something functional, which doesn't mean that thats all about it. It has to be appealing and unique. It's something in between these three corners.
FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
JH: I am really into corporate designs. Creating a Logo for a client goes hand in hand with a typography concept, which leads you to create the business cards and papers and finally a website. It is a beautiful process of creating something, often starting with a simple idea, that grows stronger and becomes someones identity.
FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
JH: Konstantin Grcic's »Mayday« Lamp currently is my favorite design object. To me it is the perfect mixture of functionality, usability and a clean yet interesting design.
FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
JH: I worked on a editorial layout for a Berlin based magazine/newspaper at a small design studio in Berlin.
FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
JH: I come from a classical print design background. Paper still is my favorite material to work with. I like the way it feels and behaves. When it comes to digital designs I think of the website as a huge page of white paper I am working on.
FS: When do you feel the most creative?
JH: The moment inspiration hits me. Often it doesn't take long until I have a first idea what I want to do with the brief or task I am working on. Most of the time I change directions and the first idea is not necessarily the one that will be realized. But it is the exact Moment when I find a way to start working on a new project is when I feel the most creative.
FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
JH: I spend a lot of time focusing on the typography. Finding the right font for a logo, brand or magazine is essential to me. I has to feel good.
FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
JH: Designing satisfies me. Not only the result but also the process of designing. It gives me a balance and on the other hand I feel challenged to make the most out of a project.
FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
JH: It is a strange mixture of happiness, melancholy and a dash of pride.
FS: What makes a design successful?
JH: I consider a design to be successful when the designer, the client and the clients target group are responding positively to the design.
FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
JH: I focus on the usage of typography first. Which font was chosen? How did the designer play with it? Does it feel vivid and expressive together with the product or other design elements.
FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
JH: Design shouldn't be misleading and has to be easy to understand, especially when used in larger contexts like for example public transportation. Design guides, supports and can even be helpful. The visual appeal is secondary to understanding and usability.
FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
JH: Design becomes more and more important in our society. We are flooded with inspirations and basically everyone who has photoshop can design something. Therefore it is important to distinguish relevance.
FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
JH: My last exhibition were my graduation exhibition in June 2013 in Berlin and the release of the magazine I am working on in December 2015 in Munich. We are planning another exhibition for the paper this year for the winter edition in December 2016, probably in Munich again.
FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
JH: My inspiration comes from movies, exhibitions, photography. Often the things that inspire me are much more colorful and complicated than my designs are. I always end up unraveling complex inspirations to a clean design.
FS: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
JH: I like simplicity in design. Easy to use with some spice in the details. I didn't really aim for this style it partially reflects my personality. And that is what I like about it, design should have a character.
FS: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
JH: I live in Berlin, Germany. I feel german design is strongly influenced by the Bauhaus era and the artistic landscape of the 1930ies. It has always been a country known for crafts and manufacturies of which some are still existing.
FS: How do you work with companies?
JH: I work on a freelance basis, both inhouse or like an agency.
FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
JH: A designers portfolio is always a hint towards the orientation of the designer. For instance, if you are looking for a designer with web experience, check out the projects she or he has realized in that area. Invite the designer for an interview and maybe give him/her a little task to find out if it fits.
FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
JH: First of all I like to collect the key facts, get a briefing and have the possibility to ask some questions about the project. Then I start playing around, start drafting and try out some directions. Usually I narrow the drafts down to three options I work on and those I show to my client for feedback. In round two I focus on the draft we agreed on and elaborate it. Followed by another feedback, I do the final design.
FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
JH: Our Eames »Hang it All« with black wires and birch wood knobs, our KPM Urbino espresso cups, our Konstantin Grcic Mayday Lamp, Hay »Phi« scissors and our essential La Pavoni coffee maker.
FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
JH: I am an early bird but I need my morning rituals of which on essential is the first cup of coffee.
FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
JH: Well, I made the best experiences with trying new things and not being afraid to realize, that some things aren't meant to be or don't work for me like they do for others.
FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
JH: I'd say it is the same thing: Working with something other people would consider to be a hobby. It is a wonderful thing to work freely and express yourself through a paid job. On the other hand I feel that it is often hard to make clients and consumers understand, hat even though his work is a lot of fun, it has to be acknowledged as a job and therefore be paid fairly.
FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
JH: An understanding of visual aesthetics in general. I wouldn't only limit that on the field of design a designer works with, it is more like a general understanding of aesthetics. Of course this is an individual matter but in the end you can tell by the work if the designer has his or her aesthetic view.
FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
JH: Most of the time, the first program that I open is inDesign when I design fro print purposes. I used to do my web layouts in InDesign as well but now I switched to Photoshop because the new features are really nice for designing responsive pages. As a typography inspiration I like the magazine Slanted a lot, they also have a nice Blog I check out quite often. In general I'd consider magazines a good source of inspiration. Online, I collect inspirations via platforms like tumblr or pinterest, using them as tools for my research or just keeping things that caught my attention.
FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
JH: I always try to set up a project plan for myself containing what has to be done and until when by whom. This works good so far but with more than two projects at a time, the best project plan cannot avoid including the weekends or working late. And most of the jobs I did so far were really to good to say no to because it was fun to work on them.
FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
JH: That depends on the project and of course the client. Sometimes the first idea will be realized and sometimes it takes a while to come to a proper solution. But in the end the proper solution is what it takes.
FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
JH: How much will it cost?
FS: What was your most important job experience?
JH: In fact working for another freelance designer. When I started working after my graduation, I worked for a freelance Designer. She influenced the way I work on my own today and set an example of how an independent design business could be ran. Thank you Marika, I always appreciate the work we did together!
FS: Who are some of your clients?
JH: My current clients are KPM (Royal Porcelain Manufactury Berlin), Alpha Container Pictures, AVAN Berlin, EYESBOUND Photography and TUI.com
FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
JH: I enjoy drafting a lot because it is a very playful part. You start developing ideas, trying out fonts, colors and building a visual concept. It is a very creative phase.
FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
JH: In the not too distant future I am planning to open up a design studio together with my husband and two close friends in Berlin.
FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
JH: I develop my designs myself. But I am always looking for input. i consider my friends and family for input and talk about projects with them. i is very important to see my work through their eyes to uveal it's strenthgs and weaknesses.
FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
JH: Currently I am working on a corporate design for a film and tv producer.
FS: How can people contact you?
JH: Via e-mail. I read them frequently and I reply as soon as possible.
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