Interview with Alex Hearn, The Big A, United Kingdom

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Alex Hearn

Alex is a creative whose designs connect on an emotional level, sending an authentic message in the process.

Interview with the 2021 Vega Digital Awards Winner - Alex Hearn

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your design background.

My expertise is in winning attention and connecting brands with people in a noisy, fast moving world. I have a rich creative background of over 25 years. Over my career I have worked in illustration, advertising, branding, print, website design and marketing. My projects have caught the attention of Yahoo! News, Gizmodo, Design Week and Trend Hunter. I have also written for and had work featured by CreativePool.

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a digital designer/artist?

The online arena plays such a large role for most brands that it's impossible to ignore. What attracted me was the opportunity to flesh out brand experiences. I relish creating the online journeys that people will go on. But nothing replaces understanding the human element, and combining that with the online brand experience is my speciality.

3What’s your favorite kind of digital design and why?

My favourite type of digital design is the kind that makes people want to explore deeper. It draws them into discovering more about a brand, despite living in a busy in a world full of perpetual distractions.

4To you, what makes a “good” design?

Design that entices people. Design that connects on an emotional level and sends an authentic message.

5Describe your design style and its main characteristics.

I like to think I don't have a style because brands have different personalities, and it's my job to communicate them. The right typeface can say so much about a brand, so I always take my time in finding well designed fonts that send the right message, and I try to steer clear of overused ones. The same goes for cliches in images and copy too. I am here to make brands more noticeable, but being formulaic does the opposite and reduces differentiation.

6Tell us about your design process.

My design is always based in strategy. It's not possible to create an effective brand experience without planning. The essential elements of a strategy is discovering the values of the brand, discovering who the customers are, their motivations and how the brand can connect with them. Then the design starts. I find researching and identifying the right visual tone a satisfying stage of any project.

7Where do you draw inspiration from?

My inspiration can come well designed typefaces or anywhere else. I'm always looking at fine art, street art, fashion and old painted signs on the sides of brick buildings.

8What current trends in digital design (or really anything digital related) are you most excited about?

The amount of third party integrations has transformed digital design and will continue to. On the other hand, people get so distracted with the tech that they forget the human side of things. I enjoy seeing fine art and retro ideas used in digital design. Design trends are very fast moving, so it's always fun to see what takes off.

9Congratulations! As the winner of the 2021 Vega Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?

Having your work officially recognised is very encouraging, and another motivation to keep standards as high as they can possibly be.

10Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2021 Vega Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

TV Products HK are an international company who manufacture innovative retail products, from conception all the way through to distribution. Their competitors mostly show shopping channel style videos but we avoided that formula. Instead we focused on enticing potential clients and building trust. The tone of the project has an interesting balance because it conveys authority and scale but also has a creative and human quality.

11What was the biggest challenge with this project?

There was not an existing online presence or competitors who offered exactly the same thing, which was fun but also challenging. So we created a strategy to understand the needs of their audience and identify the best tone of voice, from logo design to copywriting.

12How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?

It gave me a thirst for more! People shouldn't design for awards, but winning them can be motivating.

13What are your top three (3) favorite things about the digital industry?

The first thing are the technological developments which opens doors and makes life easier, and there's new stuff happening all the time. The second is something I have a love/hate relationship with - trends. I love them because they are fun and can be exciting, but I hate them because many brands end up looking similar, which isn't good marketing. And the third thing is that we work in an industry where people interact with our work, which is something I find exciting.

14What makes your country specifically, unique in the digital industry?

The digital sector is an area of rapid growth in the UK, growing around six times faster than any other sector. What makes it unique is the well documented culture of creativity and also ambitious entrepreneurship, backed by the necessary capabilities and resources.

15Where do you see the evolution of digital industry going over the next 5-10 years?

In these uncertain times predictions are difficult to make. However, following on from a pandemic when online shopping artificially grew because people were locked down in their houses, it's safe to say that behaviours may have altered permanently. The digital industry will of course respond to these changes as e-commerce becomes even more normalised.

16If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring Vega Award submitter, what advice would you give them?

Think about how you can differentiate a brand, instead of replicating what everyone else is doing.

17What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the digital industry?

Add another dimension which compliments your work. For example, understanding human psychology can be a useful skill to understanding more about the people on the receiving end of your work. Reading a publication such as Marketing Week can help you to understand what's going on behind the scenes of brands and campaigns.

18Tell us something you have never told anyone else.

I love watching the people work who are paid to paint typography and other markings on the roads. Some of them have incredible skills.

19Who has inspired you in your life and why?

In terms of my work life, it's mostly artists who inspire me - from Keith Haring to Jackson Pollock.

Winning Entries

TV Products HK: website design, build and copywriting | 2020

TV Products HK: website design, build and copywriting | Vega Digital Awards

TV Products HK are a well established manufacturer of innovative products, relied on by leading clients in the DRTV, Retail and...
(read more at Vega Digital Awards)

The Big A

The Big A is an award-winning digital marketing agency based in the United Kingdom.