Every agency is more than the sum of its parts, and by parts we mean people. That’s why we launched this blog series—to get to know each Hansonite a little better in order to find out what makes them, them. We’ve previously gotten to know more about Sr. Software Engineer David Williams, Visual Designer Becca Maag, and Front-End Developer Matt Painter. Today, we’re getting the conversation started with Chris Hatfield, Associate Creative Director.
Sally: So Chris, how long have you been at Hanson?
Chris: I’m heading into my third year.
Sally: What’s your role? Describe it for someone who may not be familiar.
Chris: I’m Associate Creative Director, which means many things in an agency context. We’re a scrappy size considering we specialize in creative, development, strategy, and marketing. Having so many areas of capability means I get to wear a lot of hats, and honestly that’s the only way I’d want it. Design is the process of moving something from its current state to its desired state, which means we get to apply the skill of design to a lot of really interesting and challenging topics.
Sally: It’s good to know we’re keeping you busy! What are three things you love the most about your job?
Chris: It’s extremely rewarding to be part of a team that wants to be the best version of itself. Every day we come to work trying to figure out how to serve the best solutions to our clients. It’s certainly not easy, but it’s a great feeling to grow along with that. So I love that passion and fearlessness to reinvent yourself. I love the wide range of work I’m able to take part in because I would get bored doing the same thing day in and day out all the time. The ubiquitous nature of design makes it applicable to so many fascinating projects. And third, I love the sense of satisfaction I feel from working on things I believe in every day. I truly believe in the power of an idea, and it can be extremely challenging to take an idea that you really believe in based on creative insight and experience and get it through all the voices, opinions, and challenges brought to it. There isn’t much more satisfying than championing an idea through all those hurdles and seeing it succeed.
Sally: What’s the coolest thing you’re working on right now?
Chris: I’m currently working on a national commercial, a brand reel, a deck promoting a product we’ve had the pleasure of creating/branding/UX/prototyping/strategizing/allthethings, as well as an internal rebrand for a massive company.
Sally: What are some things you are passionate about outside of Hanson?
Chris: I’m extremely passionate about discovery. I’m kind of always chasing that new moment, that new feeling, that new idea. For me that manifests in a lot of ways from being a big collector of comic books to being a pretty active gamer. I have even authored a few comics with indie artists. I have a large collection of music equipment after being a touring guitarist for a Warner Bros. subsidiary for most of my twenties so I still love to tweak pedals and solder stuff together. I’m pretty head over heels for screen printing and the physicality is important for me and great for a break. I’m also a massive coffee fan—I hunt for the perfect espresso and I’m more concerned with where I can get the nearest best cup of coffee than I am the next meal. I currently serve as the board president for AIGA Toledo, though I’m working with successors to transition my time into other areas of our design community.
Lastly, I also work on a personal passion project called Brick X Brick. I collect materials from blight locations around the city and repurpose them into one-of-a-kind design artifacts that then raise funds to improve those areas. The last edition was a really great collaboration with Invision and with the proceeds we were able to donate $10,000 to creative placemaking efforts in the Toledo community.
Sally: I already know an interesting story follows this next question! Before working at Hanson, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
Chris: I was a musician. I started playing guitar in sixth grade, and started my first band around 15 or 16 years old. By 18, we were booking our own regional three-day weekend tours. By 21, we had created a new project built on all that we had experienced on the road. That project resulted in signing a recording contract around my birthday at the Viper Room, which is bananas.
I think heading back into design and video work has made a lot of sense because there are so many wonderful overlaps between the two. Teamwork, a common goal, collaboration, working together to get to the point of nonverbal cues when songwriting is actually pretty similar to the collaborative work on a piece of design. The tighter you get, the more fluidly the magic (or hard work dressed up as magic) can be tapped into. There is a sense of family in that space.
While this sounds like a wild and fun background, I think the equally valuable experiences were growing up working in a factory, landscaping, retail, working artist management, all sorts of joints. These each gave me huge insights I carry with me today. I’d say working in a factory probably taught me so much about user experience through repetitive tasks on assembly lines. Nothing like insights learned while sweating in a 100 degree warehouse.
Sally: It’s always interesting to see how people’s backgrounds contribute to what they do today! Circling back to our day-to-day at Hanson, you’re familiar with our core values (be yourself, own the adventure, stay curious, get emotional, and embrace family). Which one do you most resonate with and why?
Chris: So the core value “Be Yourself” means a lot to me, because after all my experiences, quite frankly, I’m not going to be anyone else. I bring passion, commitment, and determination to every project I’m lucky enough to take a crack at. Pretending to be something you aren’t every day makes it really hard to discover who you are at your core and really accept all that you are as a person and demand an exceptional life on your own terms.
But a part of why I enjoy my experience at Hanson has to do with the rest of those pillars. They’re all meaningful to me.
Sally: If you could describe Hanson in three words, what would they be?
Chris: “How might we…?”
Sally: Love that! Thanks, Chris!