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The founder of Hey studio on design that inspires her

D&AD’s Graphic Design Jury President tells us why creating something new has become challenging in a fast-paced world

Image from the Yellow Pencil-winning Camouflage Against the Machines by Dentsu for Unlabeled, NexusⅦ

Verònica Fuerte is a visual language creative from Spain. After working for several design studios in Barcelona, she founded her own studio Hey in 2007, which has grown steadily since. Fuerte now has a seven person, all-female team and creates work for clients like Google and Apple, as well as for smaller companies around the world for whom she likes to focus on packaging design. Her work has appeared in prestigious media such as It’s Nice That, DesignBoom, Communication Arts and AIGA. Fuerte also teaches at several universities in Barcelona and frequently speaks at international conferences. Here, D&AD’s Graphic Design Jury President for 2024 tells us what AI tools she’s currently using and what decade of design inspires her the most.

What is happening in the industry right now that is exciting you?

I think it's a very interesting moment right now, from even a year ago. AI is here, and it's not going anywhere. Right now it’s important to learn what AI can bring to us in our profession and industry. How can we take advantage of this new technology and how can we introduce AI into our processes and creativity? I use Midjourney in my design process because for me, it’s a tool that can help me visualise my ideas in a very efficient way. That’s the one tool I use, because I think training yourself in one application is easier since there are so many right now. As creatives, we need to be aware of what’s happening in the world around us and test everything out.

What are you hoping to see in D&AD Award-winning work?

I would love to see something that is going to inspire me and my colleagues. This is actually why I join juries, because I want to get inspiration and see what’s going on in today’s world. Entries come from all over the world, so it's a great insight into different cultures. I want something to surprise me. Nowadays we all want to feel safe, and clients want to feel safe, but creating something from a safe zone means it’s probably going to be something we’ve seen before that has worked. I think the ones that disregard safety will be successful.

Image from Chinese Octave by Nanjing Han Qing Tang Design and Qing Zhao for Nanjing Chinese Orchestra

What is a challenge the graphic design industry currently faces?

Creating something new has become challenging. There are all these new tools that are fast and exciting, but are we investing enough time into experimenting or finding unexpected new styles? When I first started designing in university, I didn’t even use a computer until my second year. It’s all changed now, and with social media we want things to happen immediately. Maybe we aren't spending enough time investigating and evolving. Great design is something that can make an impact for years to come, but you can’t create something like that in minutes. Are we spending enough time deleting and remaking things? Are we researching enough to know if something we’ve created hasn’t already been done? Research into the past is super important to understand if your idea is fresh.

Where do you find inspiration?

In my opinion, the late 60s and 70s is when graphic design was initiated, and it’s because of these decades that graphic design is how we understand it now. This is where I get my inspiration from because it’s where it all started. You can see projects like Geigy for example, that had some of the best designs for the packaging of pharmaceutical products, much better than anything we are doing right now. The way they used to design was very effective, and very simple. Like super bold. Maybe I just feel more familiar with this kind of design and aesthetic, because I also collect vintage books. The design industry is becoming more and more international but Spain influences me too. The places you visit, where you live, your family, these are things people may not give as much importance to as influences but they are very important, and your life will always influence your work.

Image from the Yellow Pencil-winning DYICTA Logo Design by FCB Africa for Digital Youth ICT Academy

Is there something you’ve learned in your career that you’d like to share with others?

When I first started designing, I was always looking for perfection. The perfect typeface, the perfect design, and sometimes when you’re in that loop of perfection you lose sight of the real purpose of the project, because perfection just doesn't exist. When you let go of the idea of being perfect, that's when the magic happens. 

D&AD Awards 2024 is now open for entries. The Graphic Design category celebrates commercial visual design for all platforms. Includes data visualisation and printed, digital, environmental or motion design. Learn more about and enter the Graphic Design category here.

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