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Today,we are joined by Torgeir Hjetland. He is a Graphic Designer You can view his  portfolio here

  • Tell us about your graphic design career. How did you break into graphic design, and how did you advance to where you are today?

After university I was offered a job by one of the main figures of graphic design in Norway, Enzo Finger.He remembered me from a few years earlier when I applied for a summer job in his studio. I stayed there for more than four years, before being contacted by one of my teachers in Oslo, Anne Mell bye. She had just started a company that offered a combination of technology and design, Making Waves, and I was very tempted to learn more about designing for the web. After almost three years there, I joined some friends in another design firm in Oslo, Uniform. We worked with everything from small clients such as restaurants and packaging for eco-products, through to branding and corporate identities for more large-scale Norwegian firms. After a few years I came to realise that I would like to work with clients in a closer and more personal way. Working on my own I have been able to establish a clear approach and design philosophy more easily, and also challenge the client. I have found that when you have a concept that you really think is appropriate, but which you think may challenge the client’s view on how they should communicate, you should present the idea. It has always been a success for me, as long as I allow the client to take full part in the process. They gain an understanding of the concept and almost expect to be challenged.

 

  • What do you enjoy most about your career?

Being able to start up Work in Progress and to work with my main interest and hobby, graphic design. It sounds a bit sad, like I do not have any other interests, but I do feel extremely lucky to be able to go to work and never feel bored.

  • What were the biggest inspirations for your career?

Running a small studio I can also easily cooperate with talented people, whether they are photographers, such as Italian Filippo Minelli, or illustrators, such as Frode Skaren, and many more. I find inspiration in the art scene. I find it more impulsive and less narrow-minded than graphic design,

  •  What are some favourite projects you’ve completed and why?

There have been a few after working for more then thirteen years, but some of the recent ones are Storyline Studios and Fugl Fønix Hotel. Storyline is Norway’s largest film studio, and I was able to do the identity with a range of nice implementations such as signage, interior, paper bags and more. And it was great fun to work with Filippo Minelli to create some astonishing photos for the client. One of my most recent projects is a small, independent hotel situated on the west coast of Norway, Fugl Fønix Hotel. I am doing the identity, signage, interior, web, print, everything, and it is great fun. I work with some very enthusiastic owners of the hotel, and I have a close cooperation with local craftsmen. It has been a daunting task, first time doing the interior without the help of interior designers, but hopefully it will work.

  • Tell us about your graphic design education. How did you decide to study graphic design?

After finishing high school, I was a bit tired of studying subjects that were not close to my heart. My mother gave me some valuable advice: “Study something you like”, and I immediately thought about drawing. I looked at different occupations that I thought had something to do with drawing, and graphic design stood out. Now, I don’t think you need to draw to study it, but maybe it helps? Anyways, I studied two years in Oslo, and three years in Bath, UK. The years in Bath were extremely important to me. I kind of had a very naive approach to my choice of studies, and it took me a few years to start to understand what graphic design is. I was lucky to have good teachers and I also had a placement at Baseline Magazine working with one of my teachers at university, Hans Dieter Reichert.

  • In retrospect, what do you know now that you wish you knew before you pursued your graphic design education?

I wish I knew a bit more about what it is actually about, what sort of disciplines you need to master. It took me more than two years of studying to be confident enough to start doing at least half-decent work.

  • Based on what you hear in the industry, what do you think are the most respected and prestigious schools, departments or programs? Does graduating from a prestigious school make a difference in landing a good job?

Well, I studied a few years ago now, and do not have updated information on different colleges. The most important factor is the teachers, of course. I much prefer schools that offer part-time teachers that take time out from their everyday life in a studio to come to teach for a few weeks. They have an understanding of how the industry works right now, they are updated on the different movements.

  • How can prospective graphic design students assess their skill and aptitude?

You have to be determined, and like what you are doing. You will have to be prepared to work hard. Try to find a way of working that makes sense to you, a kind of philosophy, if you like, or an approach. It helps you to have focus, because it can be quite overwhelming to just start designing. It took me a lot of years to find “my” approach.

  •  What other advice can you give to prospective students thinking about an education and career in graphic design?

Do not give up after a few months or even years. It can take some time to develop.

  • What exactly do you do? What are your key responsibilities?

Since my firm is a one-man band, I do almost everything. I like the different tasks and variations, but I do have an accountant :) I guess one of my main areas of work revolves around identities. Doing this job I need to understand the client and the product or the services they provide, but most importantly how they can communicate to the market to attract attention. This is extremely simplified, but gives a notion of what I am doing. The graphic designer has a lot of responsibility when creating the identity for a product or corporation. It is the heart and soul of the business. It is easily forgotten that a new identity can create newfound optimism and high spirits amongst employees in a company. It can boost confidence levels.

  • What are the tools of the trade that you use the most?

Common knowledge, enthusiasm and persuasion.

  • What are the most challenging aspects of your job?

Understanding all the different types of clients one gets to meet. But that is also one benefit I enjoy the most – to get to know and understand different clients, markets and brands.

  • What are the hottest specialties within the graphic design field over the next decade?

Oohhh, that is a difficult question. I wish I knew. I kind of like to try different fields of work, and I sometimes do things I don’t know how to do or solve. You learn things quicker this way, and it kind of forces you to be on your toes all the time. But maybe people should try to develop within one field of work, specialise, master the job and improve by focusing? I do not know.
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