Hype Type is the Los Angeles based multi-disciplinary studio of British designer Paul Hutchison. Check out our conversation with him below.
Can you give us some background on your journey to founding Hype Type?
Whilst at University, I started picking up some freelance jobs, mainly for friends. I was designing lots of club flyers, record sleeves, skateboards graphics and t-shirts. The work was fun but not enough to really pay the bills so on leaving University in 1997 I took a job at a small design studio whilst working on my freelance projects in the evenings. I started to get more and more of my own clients and I was able to switch to working part time at my day job. A couple of years later, I had enough regular freelance work to be able to leave my job. After working for a San Diego branding agency specialising in youth culture for a year, I moved back to the UK and I officially set up Hype Type Studio at the end of 1999. I moved from the UK to Los Angeles full time in 2010.
Who or what are the biggest influences on your typographic work?
Skateboarding, music and graffiti have all influenced me hugely. In my early teens, I was part of a network where people all over the world would exchange hip hop mixtapes and graffiti and skateboard zines from all over the world. Each month we would all send out packages that included a cassette tape and photocopied zines that people were creating in our local scenes.
Since we didn’t have the internet, it was a way to connect and be on top of what was happening in cities like New York, LA, Berlin, Amsterdam, Melbourne and Sydney. This was before there were many dedicated magazines and it was our way of keeping in touch on a global level. If you were part of a local skate or music scene at that time, someone was taking photos and then cutting, pasting and putting together a photocopied magazine. It’s pretty crazy to look back and think about this all before the internet, but I have spoke to people in lots of other scenes and they were all doing the same kind of thing – networking with like minded people and sharing information that made it feel like you were part of an exclusive club. I think this DIY way of doing things has been the biggest influence on my typographic work. There were no rules and anything was possible.
“In my early teens, I was part of a network where people all over the world would exchange hip hop mixtapes and graffiti and skateboard zines from all over the world.”
Can you describe your first stages of starting a new project?
Each project begins with conversations with the client, learning about the company, the project goals and any specific challenges. Only once we have outlined the project objectives and defined the brief will we dive into strategic research and design exploration.
Do you feel a multitude of opinions can affect the final outcome of a project?
The designers task is to creatively problem solve, communicate and add value to the project. In my experience the best solutions come from dealing with a core group or individual on the client side. People that have been involved with the project from the beginning, have helped to develop the brief and understand the project goals. The opinions from this group or person are always well informed and certain legitimate decisions often do affect the design and its direction. Design is subjective and design-by-committee rarely leads to a successful solution.
“The lines that form the '8' speak directly to the art of the 'woven' technology in the shoe.”
Can you describe the concept for Kevin Durant’s KD8 logomark?
The brief was to develop a single, graphic numerical ‘8’ that felt contemporary, modern and timeless, but with a sport performance edge to it. It needed to be a bold figure that could work if applied tonally. The graphic ‘8’ was primarily designed to live on the footwear packaging for Kevin Durant’s 8th signature shoe but needed to be strong enough to carry over into the larger KD8 seasonal narrative as well.
The bold, assertive ‘8’ is asymmetric to maintain interest in the figure and was drawn using simple and powerful graphic gestures. The lines that form the ‘8’ speak directly to the art of the ‘woven’ technology in the shoe, and are drawn from a specific section of the weave of the yarn on the upper.
LIFT by EnCore is a great example of a logomark becoming a visual language. Do you feel this is a key part of a successful brand identity?
There are many ways to approach a project, but for LIFT the solution of the brand identity and it’s expression was sitting within the wordmark. It has been received very well but more importantly it has been a success for the client and their business as it continues to grow.
How do you find working with an established brand language differs from working with something that you’ve created from scratch?
As long as you have a good solid understanding of the brief and guidelines, what you must adhere to and where you can find new and interesting ways to help evolve and elevate the brand language then there is no difference in working with a set of guidelines designed by myself or someone else. Consistency is the key.
During the process of creating a visual language you are always thinking beyond the guidelines and how the brand can develop in the future. There will have been lots of exploration and thinking about concepts of future direction that you can tap into when continuing to work with the brand.
You often collaborate with the team at SocioDesign. What works so well about that relationship?
We have been working together and collaborating for a number of years now. The partnership is like an extended family and allows us to expand our studio and team for specific projects. We share similar sensibilities but everyone brings different ideas, perspectives and skills to projects. The time difference between Los Angeles and London also has its benefits and we can basically get twice the amount of work done in one day. As one studio is leaving for the day we have a few hours that overlap to discuss the project and the other one can pick up from that point. The collaborative process works really well and the projects always benefit from it.
“During the process of creating a visual language you are always thinking beyond the guidelines and how the brand can develop in the future.”
What makes your studio environment a productive place?
We have a separate studio at the house. My commute to work is 20 steps down the garden, so I can plow through work without many distractions. I can get on the phone and not worry about being a distraction. I can take breaks when I’d like to step away. There’s a lot of freedom, but there’s also more commitment to putting in time to work because I’m steps away from the house. It simplifies my day to day. Without an LA commute, I can use that time for surfing, cycling or whatever.
What do you get up to outside of the studio?
I try to surf most mornings before work if the waves are good. We have been going on lots of camping trips lately and exploring more of California. I go cycling when I have time and occasionally I still get on my skateboard although not as much as I would like. We also landscaped our garden last year so I spend a lot of time working on it. It’s a good way to take a break away from my desk because I’m getting my hands dirty and doing hard work that’s completely different from being at my computer. I come back feeling refreshed and better at problem solving and the garden looks good, too!