ABOUT THE DESIGNER
Named by Singapore’s The Sunday Times as one of the nation’s top graphic designers, Hanson has had his name on the roster of recipients for the President’s Design Award previously. He received its Designer of the Year accolade in 2012, with the Jury describing his body of work as expressive “of simplicity, restraint and intelligence – very much in keeping with his personality”.
The Creative Director of H55, a design studio which he founded in 1999, Hanson is behind numerous visual identities, brand applications and publications that have represented Singapore at an international level. Among these are the visual identity designs for the Singapore Pavilion at various Venice Biennales, and the biennial Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize. Hanson’s work has also garnered recognition and awards from some of the most prestigious design competitions in the world, including the D&AD in London, Type Directors Club in New York and Tokyo, One Show Design, Creative Circle Awards, and the New York Art Directors Club.
Over and above his myriad roles at H55, Hanson makes time to lend his design prowess to meaningful projects for the community and the local design industry. He is the managing editor of The Design Society Journal, a bi-annual journal that puts the spotlight on local artists and designers, and their practices. Hanson is also the curator for the Singapore Mass Rapid Transit “Art in Transit” programme, an initiative that brings art closer to the community through artworks that reflect the heritage of their neighbourhood. Hanson will curate the artwork collection for nine upcoming Downtown Line (DTL) stations.
Born in Singapore, Hanson studied at the School of Design at Temasek Polytechnic. Although known to be an immensely private person who prefers to work independently, Hanson collaborated very closely with 2010 “Young Artist Award” recipient Robert on the project, A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World. Describing his approach to the project, Hanson says that he was inspired by Robert’s work and their discussions in his studio. “There won’t be good design without good content in the first place, and I am grateful to (Robert) for that”, he adds.
For Hanson, the significance of the President’s Design Award for Singapore’s design scene lies in it being the first award of its kind to recognise designers on a national level. He feels the award is an encouragement and motivation for creative practitioners, and challenges the conventional Singaporean idea that we need to be “international” before being recognised “nationally”.
Advice to emerging designers:
1. Be true to yourself.
2. Be objective, focused and purposeful.
3. Creativity is about mapping your thoughts and understanding yourself.
4. Know what motivates and inspires you.
5. Understand your relationship with design, work and money; and what they mean to you ultimately.
6. Be progressive. Let go of your mental baggage and old mindset.
7. Take risks. Displace yourself from time to time.
8. Do not be sentimental. Embrace change.
9. Spend thousands of hours practising design.
10. Be in an environment that allows you to grow creatively.