Let me introduce you to Tim Hankins. A designer, born in Iowa, raised in Northern California and currently based in Los Angeles, Tim Hankins pursued design to explore his creative interests: art, music, film, games and technology. I got to know him through the magical world of social media and the exciting journey of a company named The Honest Company. One of the things that distinguishes Honest from other companies is the design of their products. During his time at The Honest Company he led the a talented team of designers in charge of all print, product packaging design, branding, web design, mobile design, marketing, retail and photography. He also art directed a number of photo and video shoots. Tim is a multidisciplinary designer of both physical and digital products. He believes in design that engages through emotion – can it make you smile, make you cry, make you cheer, make you think?
I was very eager to ask Tim some question about his passion and Tim was happy to answer some of my questions.
I am a maker of things – beautiful things.
Could you tell us a bit more about your career so far?
TH: My design career started in college while I was at Pepperdine University. I didn’t attend art school. Everything I know as a designer I either learned on my own on the job or from my mentors. I learned how to code in school and built a few fan websites for musicians I was following at the time. One band happened to like what I created and asked me to design the website for their second album. From there I connected with their manager and he got me my first job out of college at ARTISTdirect as a web designer. After being laid off, I was fortunate enough to go on to create a successful freelance business where I worked with an eclectic clientele: musicians, photographers, consumer goods, models, startups and cultural institutions, among many others.
After the birth of my son, I decided to look for a in-house job somewhere so I didn’t have to do the freelance hustle anymore. I came across the job posting at The Honest Company while I was working at an agency in Hollywood. There wasn’t much information about the company at that time other than a short comment from Jessica Alba in a People.com article saying that she was starting a company.
I got to know you as the one in charge of The Honest Company designing team. Is there anything you can share about that experience?
TH: After learning more about what Honest was doing as business – creating environmentally-friendly products for your house and family – I was drawn to the role to have a chance to design for a mission-driven company. Having a little one at home definitely had an impact on the decision as well. I started working at Honest in October of 2011. The first thing I ever designed for the company was the skull pattern for the diapers. We had to figure out if we wanted it to be “edgy” or “cute” so I tried to find somewhere in the middle with the illustration. The funny thing about that pattern is that people either love or hate it – there’s apparently no middle ground.
What does designing mean to you? How would you describe it?
TH: It might sound like a cliché, but designing and creating is like breathing for me. It’s an extension of who I am as a person. I get antsy and uncomfortable if I haven’t created anything over the course of a few days. I’m constantly writing little notes to myself about future ideas, and I try to get to them in between my day to day projects. Vacations can sometimes be tough because I don’t have a computer with me so luckily I always have my camera to fill that creative void – ha.
What is your design philosophy?
TH: My design philosophy usually comes down to one thing – simplicity. Try to get the point across in the simplest way. Keep taking away elements from the design until only the core message remains. If your words or elements have no substance, they have no business being there to begin with.
I believe that the design on the inside of the box is just as important as what’s on the outside of the box.
Favorite design so far?
TH: I always hesitate to pick a favorite a design. I like to say that I hope that I haven’t created my favorite piece of work yet. I always find myself proud of the last thing I did, but I try to tell myself that I still haven’t created the project I’ll be “remembered” for. I want to continue to strive to get better and grow as a designer so if I haven’t created my best project yet that means I still have time to go out and create it for the next one.
How has designing changed over the years? What are your hopes for the future?
TH: Design has definitely become more accessible since I started. The fact that there’s now a version of Photoshop on a phone is crazy! If only I had that sort of access to tools earlier in my career, who knows what I could have done. I’ll be curious to see what sort of impact technology has on the industry moving forward.
Besides designing you are also a photographer. How important is photography in your life? (Personal and work)
TH: Photography has become a constant in my life since learning how to properly use a DSLR a few years back. I like the way that a camera has forced me to look at things from a different perspective. It’s always helpful to take a step back and really look at what it is you’re working on – whether that’s composing a photograph, designing a page layout or anything else creative. I always carry my FujiFilm camera with wherever I go to try to capture the little moments happening around me at the time.
TH: “Keep trying. Without trying, there is no failure. Without failure, there is no learning.”
I believe in finishing what I started.
I asked Tim one more question; ‘What have you learned over the years?’. Because I liked his answer so much, I will be sharing that in a separate blog post tomorrow. So definitely check that one out tomorrow.
Do give Tim a follow on his social media channels – Twitter – Instagram – Facebook – Website. He started a cool personal project on Instagram this year. He asked himself ‘how many different ways can I design a sun?’ So he set out to create a new graphic treatment of a sun every weekend. He was inspired after discovering Tad Carpenter’s beautiful project, but wanted to set a boundary for himself; He has to use the same color scheme for every design. It’s great to see how the styles of the sun has progressed. Definitely amazing to see!
Thank you Tim for this interview! Looking forward to see more of your work!
Credit pictures: Tim Hankins!