Friday, 29 August 2014


Todays I visited PIN studios to speak with the director Paul Hemmingfield about designing for music and the importance of branding from his point of view.

PIN studios is a Manchester based agency that has designed for a lot of local and international music events spanning from festivals such as Parklife and radio stations such as XFM.

I took this opportunity to interview him through a 30 min recorded interview which I have transcribed below. The interview ranged from topics about him as designer, the studio, designing for music and his thoughts on my plans for my dissertation.

1. How did you get into the music industry in regards to graphic design?

Riton a techno producer who plays at the WHP occasionally and did stuff with DJ ready and headbanger records in paris. I just knew them from hanging out and so if your out at the same clubs and bars. If your mates are making music they will ask you to design stuff for them and other people will see it and ask you to do stuff. Theres not really a grand plan to get into it at that stage.

I had the advantage of having a job when I moved over here, so when I met people I could say I have a job at a design agency and the fact that they had done stuff with companies like warp records it was easier to say the company I have worked for has done all this and it makes you look more trustworthy. 

2. Whats it like working at your studio?

We don't have any other staff apart for me and Ash, all the graphic design is something I have done over the years. You could do designs for nights out but it wouldn't really go anywhere. It's lucky that the Warehouse Project became really successful as this helped bounce off to more clients. Once you've got your foot in the door and other people see it and like it, it spliters off.

3. What is the importance of branding to music to you? 

I'd say it's really important, but you need a good product anyway. Unfortunately if you have a really good brand but the client isn't booking in anyone that people want to see or the venue is terrible, you are not going to be able to save someones company from that.

But the opposite of that is if you have a really good venue and your booking the right people. But he branding looks totally off key, your probably going to do more harm than good.

So it is important, but you have to consider all the factors that are in place. It's not always the be all and end all. 
If there isn't any ground work in place then brand becomes irrelevant. 

4. What inspires you to come up with your ideas for music?

Theres two levels, stylistic is mainly based around swiss school of typography - which was inspired more by the warehouse project and gorilla. try and keep it contemporary but be aware of whats going on around you so it doesn't feel too dated or completely off key. 

To actually come up with concepts it's generally based exactly on what the client are doing and trying to find out more about them. (expands on WHP and Gorilla branding in detail – 4.30 mins in). Try and find a meaning for a client. 

It's important to think first and simplify it as much as possible, give yourself a goal and what the logo must feature and then you will work towards that and refine it afterwards.

The general public don't always need to know the meaning behind the design for your logo, it's something that is generally between you and the client. If the design is easy to recognise to the general public the design is too obvious and could look to cheesy.

5.  Is there any other outside sources that influence your work such as websites and books.

Josef Muller-Brockmann, swiss style and heavily grind based designs.

6. What advice would you give someone who is about to go into industry?

Be upfront with the people you want to work for. I applied for a job and the didn't like the design, so with that feedback I went back and did it again, which they didn't expect. Even though the didn't like the new design i'd done, they offered me the job because I showed initiative. 

7. For my dissertation I am looking into the importance of branding in the music industry, I was thinking for my practical piece I wanted to do a exhibition on the of the most influential music design in either manchester on the hacienda. Whats your opinion?

The hacienda has been done too much before and people who would have better artefacts that what you have due to the era. 

 – Manchester music archive at the Lowry of loads of people work in the different eras and music scene in Manchester.

To do a exhibition on the hacienda is quite hard to top because there have been many big scale products of this done before. There was one if a football stadium and your aim would have to be for you to surpass that which is something that is quite hard to do. 

8.  It's been suggested that I shouldn't choose music that I am interested in. Would you agree if this was your project?

If you only pick stuff that you like, then you don't really have a subjective view or opinion on things. Doing this can make you a little bit lazy, whereas if you do something you don't really know about then your have to research it more and double check your facts. Also if your designing for something you don't really know about you have to really get into the subject.

Choosing something that you think you know a lot about can really make you take the design for granted. 

I think you choose to do something with a spin on it so if you was going to do something about manchester, you should fin a different angle on it thats not so predictable.

9. What spaces would your recommend for an exhibition?

Kraack Gallery 
Deaf institue
Manchester international festival
Little Gallery spaces.
Bar and club venues would be something good for you to look into as this is also relevant to music.


During the interview I was asked if I was available for a 3 week placement at the studio as it was becoming very busy with other work. I sent over my online portfolio and secured the position amongst other candidate which I was very pleased about.

Having the opportunity to work a music based graphic design agency is a perfect way for me to get an insight into what the industry is like and also gives my the opportunity to reflect on my personal practice for the future. Overall this interview has been really successful and I will look forward to working there.

As part of my dissertation I thought I could also write some small posts about the time at the agency to reflect on as primary research which will be posted at the end of every week. 

No comments:

Post a Comment