Gareth Hague (Alias) — Interview
Gareth Hague, type designer and graphic designer for Alias, London.
Hello Gareth Hague, how are you?
I’m fine thanks.
Can you introduce yourself?
I’m type designer and graphic designer for Alias, based in London.
How did you meet David James and how does your collaboration work?
I started working for David as his assistant, working mainly designing record sleeves, for which we made bespoke logos and type. We formed Alias in 1996 to develop those ideas into typefaces, and focus entirely on type related design.
Separately to Alias David operates DJA, specialising in creative direction, mostly in the luxury and fashion sector, his clients include Prada, Dior, McQueen and Dunhill. We collaborate occasionally, on Another magazine, and formerly Another Man, and on branding design and other projects with a requirement for bespoke type. An example of this would be for fashion label Hunter Gather, for which I designed a logo and a set of typefaces, which were applied on website and packaging by DJA.
How do you proceed when a client would like an exclusive / personalized typeface (I’m thinking of projects like Prada Candy or the London Olympic Games 2012)?
Both 2012 and Prada had an existing framework to work within – this kind of branding project usually does. 2012 had a logo the typeface had to work with – so a spiky typeface for a spiky logo. Prada Candy was an extension of the Prada logo, keeping its quirky and individual form, not smoothing out or making neater. This reflects the adventurous, innovative spirit of the clothing.
Designing a branding project from scratch, like for Hunter Gather, is obviously different. This is a process of exploring how a company defines itself – what its values are – and how to express those through type, in an intelligent, non-literal way. Type is of course part of a process that includes copywriting, layout, content and art direction. The aim is to give a company a relevant, functional solution that expresses a point of difference.
What do you think about generative tools like Prototypo?
Could they be the next big things in the graphic and type design industry?
I think exploring new ways of making things and using new technologies to do that is exciting, but my concern and practice is to make work that combines my particular combination of idea and craft. How and why other people make work doesn’t interest me, just what it looks like. If new technologies make better, newer, more relevant work – great.
To make with a quill or automated technology – for the end-user – so what? What is the end result like?
What’s interesting in using your own typefaces on a graphic design project?
To be able to create every facet of a project – type, layout, format – makes an end result that expresses a holistic and individual response to the questions the project asks. It doesn’t borrow – at least as many – existing forms to do this but attempts something that is new and specific.
Our designs for the magazines Another Man and Another show this in practice, with bespoke type design throughout, text to headline. They set the tone of the magazines, and underpin and help define their position of difference and creativity. This expression of difference is always what I try and do.
What do you think about the connexion between architecture and type design?
I’m not sure of the point in making manufactured connections between disciplines. The difference between two and three dimensions is bigger than any similarity of working with the balance of positive / negative shapes.
We would like to know your thought about what is a designer and what is his role?
To have an opinion, a point of view, and the craft to be able to express that through your medium of choice. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Is there any designer you appreciate a lot?
Too many to mention, there’s always good work being produced, and not necessarily by those who shout the loudest or who have the most familiar names.
Which advice would you give to the next generation of designers ?
Be yourself. There are so many designers – what do you have to say?
How do you say it – that’s new, different, that people should notice?
Which books are on your bedside table?
No books, just spectacles and a watch.
The last word…
No Last word, always onto the Next…
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