“A brand should feel like a person” – Interview with Verònica Fuerte from Hey Studio
Characterized by her bold, geometric and colorful creations, Verònica Fuerte, founder of Hey Studio is diving headfirst into the graphic world.
Designer and illustrator from Barcelona, Verònica Fuerte is a true believer in the power of visuals for change. In 2007, she founded Hey, a creative studio building fresh brands, conceptual communication campaigns and unique illustrations for a wide range of clients, such as Uniqlo, The Wall Street Journal and Paypal.
Side projects are a must at Hey, it allows the team to discharge its creative energy and break free from the confines of commercial projects. The most significant personal initiative and graphic expression by the studio, is the HeyShop, an online platform selling posters, tote bags, books and notebooks with colorful, geometric designs.
Hey’s visual language is characterized by simple, direct and comprehensive images. Driven by a passion and curiosity to explore new ideas, the studio is always evolving and adapting to the changing world of business and design. Verònica Fuerte tells us about the influence behind the bold visuals of Hey, and her perception on graphic design.
Who is Verònica Fuerte and how did the journey for Hey Studio begin?
Verònica Fuerte: “I’m the Founder and Creative Director of Hey, a design studio based in Barcelona.
The adventure began almost when I was a kid. From a very early age, as far as my memory stretches back, I was always interested in creativity. I remember that my after-school activities would always involve doing something like painting.
I wasn’t really aware that graphic design existed until it came to the time to decide what to study at university. I went to one of those career fairs where you meet everybody and they explained the various course options. I remember that there was a stand where they explained about graphic design and I saw that there was a course module about colour. This amazed me! How could all that time just be about colour? I loved everything about colours, so straight away I was intrigued.
So I studied graphic design and after working in several graphic design studios in Barcelona, until I felt that I needed to stop and try my own way of working and find my personal style. There was a voice inside me telling me that I was ready to start my own company.”
Why focus on graphic design and illustration?
Verònica Fuerte: “I was interested in creativity since I was very little. When I was a kid my after classes were all about painting and doing handmade things. When I grew up and chose the university, I always thought of a creative career.
My first option was cinema but I couldn’t get in so my 2nd was Graphic Design. I remember that I chose this career because there was a course only about Colour. And it fascinated me that everything I did as a hobby was something I could make in a professional way. So why graphic design? Because it was a passion cultivated since I was a Kid.
Through the years I discovered that my profession is always evolving. What I thought was graphic design in the first years working, is now limitless and I give it a broad approach.”
Do you consider research an essential part of the design process? How important is it when you begin working on new brand identities, communication campaigns, or illustrations?
Verònica Fuerte: “It is fundamental. After the first contact with the client, we do our research to find information that might help us understand the client better, but also to find ideas and inspiration about what we could do for them.
The more information we get, the better we can design.
Also, most of the problems that could happen in a design project come from the very beginning. Like having a wrong brief, for not asking the right questions, or maybe just for not asking. And research comes from the client, but also from the outside.”
The HeyShop showcases the studio’s personal initiatives and graphic expressions. Why do you consider these side projects a must? And how does your approach to these projects differ from working with clients?
Verònica Fuerte: “Side projects are the chance to be more experimental and try out different approaches to things. None of this time is wasted because, apart from whatever personal satisfaction you gain from the project, it is also going to make your commercial work better.
The commercial and the personal are connected and they feed into and off each other. The balance between creativity and profitability is something that I think you need to be more conscious about. Everyone wants to do fabulous creative projects all the time, but they have to be profitable, otherwise, you won’t get many more chances. It’s important to always be disciplined and efficient with your creativity, but your work has to be good.
HeyShop‘s approach is quite different than working with clients because there is more experimentation and I try not to put limits with these projects.”
Discover other designers working with bold colors and shapes, head to “Why can’t a city centre be covered in plants and colour?” – Interview with Camille Walala.
As a creative studio working on graphic design and illustration, do you think that trends should be followed or used as case studies?
Verònica Fuerte: “I believe that design is not about trends, it is about brands. But if you are immersed in a creative project that must follow the trends because it is for a specific timing or maybe because it is part of the brief so trends are fine.”
Hey’s work also includes creating fresh brands and conceptual communication campaigns for clients. From your perspective, how important is branding & communication for a product to be successful?
Verònica Fuerte: “Branding is fundamental to design a successful product. It all starts considering the basics: What is the typeface? What is the visual language?. That’s the brand identity, without identity brands don’t exist. Brands should also consider their aesthetics, how they talk, how they listen… A brand should feel like a person. Think about it, brands are like people, we are surrounded by brands almost 24 hours.”
Some of your clients include Uniqlo, The Wall Street Journal and Paypal. If you could give one piece of advice, what is the key to a successful design project?
Verònica Fuerte: “My advice is not to be afraid to explore and present highly creative routes. Then, fight for the riskier / ground-breaking ideas to be put forward by the client.”
What’s the next step for Hey Studio?
Verònica Fuerte: “Actually, we are working on different branding projects TBD Health in NY, an STI/STD screening process to have better control in sexual health, a redesign of a Craft Beer company in Moscow that has a classic and more experimental range.
Also working in something we never did before: sunglasses that will be very very colourful in collaboration with a brand in Barcelona.
We are working on the Women at Work podcast series by Hey, an initiative about women in creative jobs and in leadership. We want to take over the torch of change, inspire other professionals, empower those who make it and open the ears of whoever wants to listen.
And we are launching our second edition Book by CounterPrint, by September. It is something that makes me feel so happy because it gives me the energy to keep working every day.”
Curious to find out more about iconic studios focusing on branding and visual design? Don’t miss the Interview with Motto.