November speaker Q&A: Creative director Bob Hambly

Bob Hambly

Want a sneak peek at the guest speaker for EAC’s Toronto branch’s November members’ meeting? Meet Bob Hambly, creative director for the Toronto design firm Hambly & Woolley and the vice-president of communications for the Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD). Hambly’s artwork and illustrations have been published in the New York Times Magazine, Time magazine, and Martha Stewart Living. At Hambly & Woolley, he oversees brand development projects, operations, and administration.

At our upcoming branch meeting, Hambly will be talking about how editors, writers, and designers can work together to tell stories through design, how editors can find illustrators on a small budget, and more.

Meeting details
November 26, 2013
Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, Room 318 (southwest corner of Spadina Avenue and Bloor Street West)
7 PM: Open discussion session for new and prospective EAC members
7:30 PM: Information session and program (Bob Hambly’s presentation)
9 PM: Mix-and-mingle over coffee, tea, and cake
Meetings are FREE for EAC members and students, and $10 for all other attendees.

Q&A conducted by Emily Chau

Q: How do you tell a story by design?

A: I love good stories. My father was a great storyteller. I’ve always enjoyed listening to the radio, for radio forces the audience to use their imagination. As designers, our job is to help present and promote someone’s company, product, or service by developing a clear, concise story for them. And how do we tell a story graphically? The first phase involves research and asking many questions so that we have a better understanding of what we are dealing with. Once this phase is completed, the creative adventure begins, and we begin to translate this particular story into appropriate and compelling visuals.

How did you get involved in the field of illustration and design?

When I was four years old, I knew I wanted to be an artist. At a young age, I loved to draw, and I was encouraged by people’s reactions to my work. I went to school in Philadelphia to study illustration and was in heaven. As part of that program, we were also taught the basics of graphic design, and I grew to appreciate and admire the world of design. When I moved back to Toronto, I started my freelance career as an illustrator, working primarily for magazines. This was how I met my wife, Barb Woolley. She hired me to create illustrations for a publication she was designing. One thing led to another, and in 1990, we established our own design firm, Hambly & Woolley.

Could you tell us a bit about Hambly & Woolley?

At Hambly & Woolley, we have a team of very talented designers who work well both independently and as part of a team. Over the years, we have developed and fine-tuned a design process that we apply to all projects. We listen, research, and question to find out what makes the client unique and then we explore many different ideas to find what works best for them. Barb is the firm’s design director and I am the creative director. Fortunately, we have a wide range of clients and projects from the public sector to the private sector. After 23 years in business, I still look forward to coming to work every day.

Would you consider yourself a designer, editor, writer, or artist?

I like to try new things—I enjoy the challenge. Even if I’m not good at something, at least I can say that I’ve tried it. I wouldn’t call myself a designer. I’m more of a problem solver. But if I had to choose, I would call myself an artist, for I like to express myself in various ways. Lately, I’ve tried my hand at writing. And with practice and some help from patient editors, I’m seeing improvement. I have a newfound appreciation for people who write well.

How does your work relate to various types of editors (proofreaders, copyeditors, et cetera)?

Editors play a very important role in the design process. They often help us to expand our ideas and thinking. Designers need to be able to trust an editor’s opinions and, likewise, editors need to trust a designer’s ideas. It’s wonderful when designers and editors work really well together.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

I love working on branding projects—they’re extremely challenging. As a result, I keep aware of branding trends. At the moment, there are way too many logos using voice bubbles! Voice bubbles are everywhere.

Emily Chau is a mid-level public relations practitioner in Toronto. She is also a web experimenter and passionate about volunteering.

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