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The Interviews: Designer, Hannah Bird

Ruth Hartnoll   —   25 April 2016   —   Creative & Design

The Interviews: Designer, Hannah Bird

In a new series we’re going to be taking a look at the people behind Access. These posts will illuminate what inspires them, where they go when they’re stuck for ideas and how they got into the industry.

First up is designer Hannah Bird. Let’s talk giant cups of tea, hand-drawn lettering and inspirational philosophers.

1. What does your typical work day look like?

It normally starts with a cup of tea and then it’s onwards and upwards from there. I spend my days working on a range of work for retainer clients, new clients and creating ideas for pitches. I also try and fit in a bit of learning in between jobs. I’m just about to start playing around with After Effects to make some GIFs.

These are some I adore:

Animated dancing

By Eran Mendel

Animated cartoon bunny playing a guitar

By Eran Mendel

Animated "Linn" dribble

By Linn Fritz

2. What’s inspiring you at the moment?

Gemma O'Brien's book of ideasGemma painting letters in blue

Gemma O’Brien hard at work - images via Gemma’s Instagram.

Currently, I am particularly focused on pattern design and hand lettering. Also, pretty much anything on Dribbble. Gemma O’Brien is so talented and inspiring - you can find her on Instagram.

3. What was the last book you read?

I have just finished reading a book by a very inspirational and talented lady called Elle Luna. The book is called ‘The Crossroads of should and must’. It’s a beautifully illustrated book about the decisions we all make in life and how we can combine our passions into the everyday.

4. What was the last article you read?

Inspiring "Do" quotes

I don’t read a lot of articles but I do watch a lot. I recently discovered the Do Book Company and the amazing work that they do.
There was a talk by Andy Puddicombe (he’s a former Buddhist Monk) and Co-Founder of Headspace. He talks about why 10 minutes doing nothing each day can change your life. Recently, I have been really interested in the connection the human race has with their phones. We now live in a digital age, we wake up to our phones and and fall asleep with them. His talk is about switching off for 10 minutes a day will help focus your thoughts and therefore create better work.

5. What’s your favourite quote about design?

It’s not really a design quote but it’s one I try to live by:

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”


Howard Thurman – Philosopher and author

6. How did you get into design? What were you doing before Access?

Wow now that is a long story, but I will try and keep it short!

I’m from a family of scientists, my mum is a Dr of Microbiology so I naturally wanted to follow in her footsteps. However, at Sixth form college (after choosing biology, geology, environmental science) I realised it wasn’t for me and within 6 weeks had changed all my courses to fine art, textiles and graphic design.

I had never heard of graphic design but it looked fun. From then on I was doomed and hooked within hours. I went on to study Graphic Communication at Loughborough University and then progressed it into a career. I now have the great opportunity to do my hobby as my job and work with an amazing bunch of people.  

7. Are you working on anything outside of work? What are your outside projects?

Lino printed polar bears Lino printing example

Andrea Lauren - images via Pinterest

I am really getting back into my lino printing and pattern making at the moment, so spending a lot of time looking into new ways of combining these (currently trying to use a rolling pin to create printed patterns). I am also attending a course on calligraphy and modern lettering so hopefully that will lead to some interesting findings.

8. Where do you go for design inspiration?

Dribbble and Pinterest are a must for any inspiration but also the browser plugin Muzli is pretty awesome if you need a quick injection of creativity. Awwwards is a great site for website design and UI design.

9. What would be your advice for a design graduate in 2016?

My advice would be gain as much experience as you possibly can, you can never have enough and it will help you out massively in the long run. Try as many things as you can so you can really understand what’s right for you, think: which suits me better? Freelance, agency or in-house design.

Get out there and meet as many people as possible, attend events, network and write about it on social media. Create a voice for yourself, it’s a pretty competitive industry so you need stand out from the crowd.

10. What’s your process when you’re given a brief? How do you approach a creative problem?

That’s a very good question and I have to say I still don’t know. It’s forever changing as I don’t think there is one-way of doing it. I always read the brief thoroughly and do a lot of research into the client.

I guess I then try and get as many ideas down as possible, whether it is by brainstorm or mood-board, no idea is a bad idea. From there it then depends on the requirements of the brief.


Next time in The Interviews: Project Manager Ashley Johnson talks Explosions in the Sky, punk rock and The Wall of Shame. 

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