The Designers: OMSE’s Ed Hatfield on storytelling and feeding his creativity with adventure
Ed Hatfield is a London-based designer, crafting brands that deliver purpose as Design Lead at branding agency OMSE and through his own freelance practice. For many creatives, certainly Ed included, exercise has proved to be both a rewarding outlet for mental health and a potential catalyst for creativity. Following an impressive multi-day trail run through the scenic views of Scotland, Ed discussed with us his relationship with both the outdoors and design, for the twenty-eighth entry into our series, The Designers.
PT Hi Ed! How’s everything going?
EH Hey 👋 really well thank you. It’s been a busy summer full of sun! I was definitely on a mission to make the most of those long days.
PT Sounds lovely! How did you land your job at OMSE? What about them stood out to you?
EH I had always admired the boldness of OMSE’s work and remember playing around with the Agenda AR work that OMSE did to promote the Agenda typeface. Which in turn won the studio the AR Printworks campaign. Something that really challenged format and pushed the identity into a new space. I found this refreshing and a great approach to creating bold and different work. So when the opportunity came up I had to go for it.
I had previously gigged at a few studios (Kin Design, Moving Brands, POST) where I learnt my craft and picked up a real interest in branding. It was under the helm of CD Ric Bell at POST where I grew my confidence working in a smaller team and learnt the power of storytelling through design. I loved creating that connection between brands (the storyteller) and people and wanted to push myself to make these experiences more unique.
PT At what point in your life did design stand out to you as a career path? Is there anything you know now that you wish you’d known then?
EH I’ve always seen the world in a visual way. Struggling with reading and writing growing up meant that I had to develop coping methods. Sketching things down, creating visually memorable abbreviations and even using colour to help digest information. These visual ways of learning helped me manage my dyslexia and perhaps set me up on my creative path.
Is there anything I know now that I wish I’d known... well it’s been a journey for sure but I think one thing that I’d tell my younger self... perhaps graduating from uni, would be to let the ideas in your work do the talking. Great work balances a clear idea with a clever execution. Anyone can make something look good.
It’s super rewarding to work on projects that have a positive impact.
PT What has been the most rewarding project to work on?
EH Great question, and looking back I’m super proud of lots of projects I’ve worked on. But when I think about reward, I think about change and challenging conventions. And I think Hackney Church (now Saint) is a project that set a new standard for its industry. An industry typically underserved by design. I went to a talk recently actually, titled ‘Is Christianity out of date?’ And what was said resonated with me as our work for Hackney Church came to mind – the message of the bible will never date, but it’s how it’s kept relevant, engaging and relatable to the world we live in today.
It’s also super rewarding to work on projects that have a positive impact too. The church is at the heart of its community – a gig venue, brewery, apiary, public garden and of course a place of worship. A real challenge to create a brand that could flex to support such a range of activities.
Rewards are different for everyone but I think where there’s an opportunity to deliver change, and create something unexpected, that’s where you can make waves and feel the impact of your work.
PT Following on from your amazing adventure run across Scotland – can you tell us a bit about that experience and where the idea to run coast to coast came from?
EH I’ve always been drawn to the outdoors and adventure. But it’s only really since lockdown I’ve noticed how important that escape is to me. I find most of my inspiration when I’m out and about, typically running or exploring new places. For me, it’s about headspace and getting the blood pumping.
There’s a race in Scotland that follows a trail called The Great Glen Way across the Scottish highlands and boasts incredible views and even a chance to spot the Loch Ness Monster… so I researched the route and planned a multi-day trip from Inverness to Fort William. A challenge that ticked so many boxes for me, physically and mentally. It’s so important we take time to step away from our day-to-day distractions and switch our minds off*, in a space where it’s just you and your thoughts.
*Or is it switch on?
PT Do you think running aids your design practice?
EH 💯!! We’re all different and have our own ways of finding focus. Running is my way of feeding my creativity and switching the mind on!
Your mind and body are capable of great things, and are intrinsically linked. Challenging myself can bring not just energy, but clarity and new perspectives to your life.
PT Training for long-distance events can be SUPER time-consuming – how do you fit running into your schedule alongside work and everything else?
EH To be honest, I think my approach is more about running when it feels right, and never forcing myself to squeeze in the miles. It’s ultimately still an outlet, right? That said, I’m currently on a training plan for a race in December and that’s giving me structure. But whether it’s fitting training in with morning swims or evening runs, it’s important to keep it flexible and know it’s okay to miss days. You can always (most of the time) catch up another time.
A good tip would be to cycle to work if you can. A great way of fitting in exercise and getting those positive vibes pumping before work!
PT What does your workspace look like?
EH Most of the real work is done out here.
Looking outside of the design sphere can spark new and unexpected ideas.
PT What kind of working environment suits you?
EH We’re back in the studio full-time now, which is great as I love the working environment in the studio. We’re a tight-knit team at OMSE and that creates a fun environment where you can feel valued but also challenged. We always listen to music in the studio. It creates an informal vibe and keeps me engaged and stops my mind from drifting!
PT Who is inspiring you the most at the moment?
EH I’ve seen a bunch of work recently that has stood out to me. I’m always impressed with how Otherway articulate the brand strategy with killer copywriting. Also in awe of Connor Campbell’s playful and experimental approach.
But often looking outside of the design sphere can spark new and unexpected ideas, and something that caught my eye recently was (continuing on the running theme here!) On’s Flow State Run Challenge. A challenge set up to power and ignite brilliant ideas. If you’re feeling brave and want to unlock your creative potential… this could be a great start.
“We’re convinced of one thing. Movement ignites the human spirit.” On, Dream on.
PT Are there any projects or experiences that you’d like to pursue in the future?
EH I’m captivated by brands with a unique story to tell and a good cause at their heart. These types of jobs feel extra rewarding when you know you’re touching people’s lives. I think in time, I’d love to build a brand of my own that exercises my adventurous spirit and creates a positive impact.
PT How are you hoping the final few months of 2022 pan out?
EH Injury-free, fingers crossed 🤞
P.S. A great trail running club to feed your creativity: @frontierlondon