I met Tony Hardman while I was still in college, spring of 2005 to be exact. Back then I was hustling to get my first internship and he was hustling to reach his dreams. Through the years he and I have stayed in touch and he has provided me with more than just insight on design but also a reason to keep reaching. I am very proud that he was willing to take time out of his busy schedule to do this interview. Take time and learn from a designer that never gives up. Continue reading Design Insight: Sessions Vol. 5 With Tony Hardman…
How many years have you been designing? What is your career history?
Well, I suppose technically I have been designing for about 18 years now, but only about 7 years professionally. My career really started in 2004, when I did some freelance design for Jordan Brand. After that, I jumped in at Skechers full time for about 5 years, and then started designing here at Nike this past January.
What motivates you?
Making a living off of expressing myself artistically is the greatest gift I could ever ask for. I think having that chance to inspire others to pursue the same path in life is something that motivates me to do my absolute best on every project.
What inspires you?
Man, so many things inspire me – it’s a big world out there! Other designers and artists are a HUGE inspiration to me, but really I can find it almost anywhere. Nature is always inspiring in that, when you look at it, it never looks “wrong”. It might be ugly, but somehow it’s always balanced and right. I’m always striving to find that quality in my own work and love studying the principles of fractals and the golden proportion, etc. Fascinating stuff. Seeing something old done in a new way is always inspiring too. I love that “why didn’t I think of that?!” feeling you get from a great design.
Where has design taken you?
Being as passionate about design as I am, it has really been a driving force in my life. Physically, design has taken me not only across the country from state to state, but also around the world to other countries like China and Korea…places I probably would have never seen. But it has allowed me to really dig deep inside of myself and explore things on a purely mental level as well.
What is “good design” in your opinion?
I think good design comes in many forms. Some objects you’re using every day are so intuitive, they don’t even seem “designed”. And that’s really a testament to how well they are designed. I always say that the best performing shoes are the ones that you never think about once you put them on to compete. But good design can also range from simple and ultra functional, to complex and emotionally or visually stimulating. Some of my favorite running shoes are really not so great for actually running in, but I just love them because of the material or personal expression.
What is your creative process?
Well, the first thing I like to do when approaching a new project is really empathize with the consumer, or whoever the product is for. Try to see the world through their eyes a bit; what they might think is cool etc. This informs what direction you want to take before you really start putting pen to paper. This is more of the research phase. After that, I like to try and find some inspiration, usually in the form of images and just put together a board I can reference while I’m working that will keep my brain stimulated and hopefully take me down some new roads from a form/color/material perspective. Once these pieces are in place, I try to get into a zone free of distraction (usually involving an obnoxiously large pair of headphones) and just start sketching. I tend to do a lot of exploring and will typically have a couple hundred shitty sketches that represent what NOT to do before the right solution presents itself. It’s a little like dating in that you kind of have to try it to know if it’s going to work out or not. And more often than not, it doesn’t.
How would you describe your design style?
I would say my style is a physical manifestation of spiritual and artistic impulses that transcends cultural…oh who am I kidding? I have no idea. I’d prefer to have somebody else describe it.
What aspects of your own experiences are reflected in your design (if at all)?
I think a design is exactly that – a reflection of all the things you have experienced throughout the course of your life. It’s a combination of form, color and material through your own personal lens. I have always loved Aaron Cooper’s quote “If I lived in a black box all of my life, all I would be able to design is black boxes.”
What is the difference between you and your designs during the beginning of your career as a designer and you as a designer now?
The designs in the beginning sucked. The designs now are really cool. Sometimes. Lol. But seriously, one thing I love about design is that you’re always learning and evolving. It’s a good thing if you can look back and laugh at how awful your older work is, because that means you’re learning and improving. Knowing that you will one day look back on your most current project and probably hate it can keep you humble and looking to step up your game.
How does your environment affect your design?
I think it’s always better to have a creatively stimulating environment to work in – bright colorful spaces with lots of cool images hanging around. Working with fellow designers in an open area can be a great experience too. As I said before, the ideal for me personally is a peaceful environment I can really get focused in. But ultimately, no environment is going to stop a great idea. If something comes to me in the middle of a crowded airport, it’s almost like everything around me disappears and I just get lost in my own train of thought.
What has design taught you?
Design has taught me a ton. How to see other people’s point of view. Patience. Persistence. To keep an open mind at all times. It has also taught me that there’s more than one good solution to any given problem and how to find the right reason to make a decision and stay focused. Design is still teaching me something new every single day. That’s why I love it!
Brett Golliff is a Designer 1 at New Balance
Check out previous “Design Insight With Brett Golliff” posts:
- Allow Me To Introduce Myself…
- Design Insight: Inspected (Inspired) by #23
- Design Insight: Art or Theft?
- Design Insight: Examining The Forces…
- Design Insight: The Sketchbook
- Design Insight: Forever Young
- Design Insight: Here Goes My List…
- Design Insight: mod·u·lar
- Design Insight: Why?
- Design Insight: The Second Season
- Design Insight: The Sketchbook (Inspiration)
- Design Insight: Creating Emotion With Motion
- Design Insight: Sketchbook Revisited
- Design Insight: Process
- Design Insight: Design School Confidential
- Design Insight: Step By Step
- Design Insight: Render
- Design Insight: The Warm Up
- Design Insight: Sessions Vol. 1 With Jason Mayden
- Design Insight: Sessions Vol. 2 With JF Fullum
- Design Insight: Sessions Vol. 3 With Kyle Strek
- Design Insight: Sessions Vol. 4 With Dallas Stokes