Hannah Ellen Spencer
Designer and Web Developer
Photograph by Jennifer Kutzleb (Hannah’s Sister)
Primary design concentration:
Branding and Web Design
Most preferred tools for designing:
Trillium Wood Farm: logo design
How and why did you choose to become a designer?
I was homeschooled until I went to college and we focused a lot on the arts. My whole family is incredibly talented in fine arts, so I thought I’d set myself apart by going to school for ballet. After one computer-art class, I discovered my calling for design. Turns out you can’t fight your genes.
Block: brand identity design
What are some of the challenges you encounter as a designer and how do you deal with them?
My biggest struggle is getting too inside my head. I’ve noticed this is as a struggle for a lot designers and creatives. The best solution is to get away from my work and find other stimuli, or consult with other creatives.
What is your definition of an “elegant solution,” that is, good design?
There is no single answer to that. Every solution should be different depending on the problem that exists. I typically find that the best solutions are often the most simple.
Subdivision: hand-drawn screen-printed poster
From skills to values, what makes a designer successful?
I don’t think a job title or being able to say you worked with “so-and-so” makes you successful. Pushing boundaries, challenging yourself, and continuing to learn new skills is how you build confidence, a unique perspective, and creative fulfillment. As a designer, the best way to measure your success is by determining your satisfaction with your own progress.
How do you stay motivated and grow personally and professionally as a designer?
Thankfully, I date a stand-up comedian, so I always have someone to laugh at, which is necessary when I get in a rut. The best way to support my creative mind is to surround myself with creative people I can collaborate with. It’s so helpful to have creative support to feed off of, whether in teaching or learning. If I’m ever feeling stuck, I like to “marinate” my ideas—which is simply working on something else for a couple of weeks while my subconscious works out the kinks.
Additionally, I think it’s incredibly important to do something outside of design that is still creative. I love interior decorating, and I think it’s helped me think outside the box and work out issues in design projects.
For those aspiring to become a designer, whatever the discipline, what is your advice?
Embrace criticism like a best friend. Don’t become personally attached to your work, unless it’s a personal project specifically for you. Whatever discipline you go into, everyone will have an opinion, and you’ll have to take something away from even the harshest criticism. Learn to talk about your work and how to give constructive criticism, because it’ll help reinforce what you learn.
Also, don’t prioritize learning just interesting things—make sure you take the time to learn the technical aspects, because you’ll be kicking yourself in the future for skipping it—a.k.a. invoicing or on-boarding client systems.
The Trixies: one-page website design and crowdfunding page
What is your quest in design, from a professional practice, education or evolution standpoint?
Professionally, I want to help my clients, not just with design, but with building their confidence in their own brand personality. Beyond creating a look-and-feel for them, I want to teach them how to promote and market their brand. I will continue to take risks for myself creatively and professionally, and push myself to see what I can accomplish.
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