How Designer Adam Ho Blurs the Lines of Branding, Interaction and Art
The #Hi_IMadeIt series features the work and stories of creatives from all over the world as we dig into what it really takes to make something and bring it to life on the internet. Submit your own on Instagram—share your design or code project, tag us @hisuperhi and include the hashtag #Hi_IMadeIt for a chance to be featured. Today, we chat to graphic designer Adam Ho on his process in designing the brand and website for Abstract, a design version control tool.
Hi hi! I'm Adam Ho (@adam.ho), an independent graphic designer working out of my home studio here in Brooklyn, New York. For work, I like to blur the lines of branding, interaction, and other facets of art and graphic design. In less fancy terms, I design brands and websites for a living. I also like to make art.
How did you come up with the idea of this project?
Heather Phillips, who was the design director at Abstract at the time, approached Devin Jacoviello (design partner on this project and also a SuperHi alum!) and I to come up with a visual refresh and redesign for their new website. A portion of the brief's goals was to design a brand specifically for designers, so it was definitely a dream project we could not turn down.
Why this project? Why now?
At the time, I had just moved to San Francisco to work at Zendesk, and everything felt like a fresh start. A new city, new air, new restaurants, new friends, and new peers to learn from. To be able to take on a big branding project also felt like a new challenge. The project was done about two years ago, but I still draw on the learnings and moments of inspiration from this project.
Did you spend a lot of time thinking about and planning for it?
Since this project was a freelance project, Devin and I had to be crafty about our time. We still had full-time jobs, so we had to do things like present pitch presentations after work hours, or design at each others' apartments and offices on the weekends. We got to pull off some wild ideas for graphic explorations, like switching laptops every 30 minutes with Illustrator and Sketch open to see if we could build upon each other's work.
What are some of the creative influences that inspired you for this project?
The feeling of analog, wonder and old-school graphic design influenced us a lot. We were inspired by anything that had to deal with modularity, wayfinding and generative design. One of our early inspirations for this project were subway and transit maps, as the Abstract brand does deal with version control, and going from A to B.
There are a lot of harsh scans, rough textures, and eccentric shapes within the brand. We wanted to portray the feeling of getting your hands dirty, but also create the feeling of everyone working towards building a great product (Abstract is a product that helps with version control for design files, similar to Github for web). We also were experimenting with RISO prints, so the style of colors and typefaces we chose definitely meshed a lot with that kind of aesthetic and appeal.
Can you talk a bit about your creative process in general? How similar was the process of creating this?
My creative process is not unlike other designers — mood boards, rounds of presentations, and Figma. In general though, I try to bring together multiple facets of design and see if they work together. I like to experiment a lot with physical textures, materials, and brush work (brush strokes), so sometimes, analog bits are part of the process as well. For creating this, we focused a lot on exploration of the identity itself, web design/nailing down the right typographic styles, and illustrations. Everything was done in tandem and was seemingly stressful, but the work felt so inspiring to create.
What was your "stack" for this project?
We used a mixture of Sketch for web design, Adobe Illustrator for Illustrations, Abstract (of course), Dropbox Paper for asynchronous feedback, and Slack for communications.
What was the most challenging part of creating/making/building this project?
One of the most challenging parts of getting the project together is getting all the fine details right, like the right type scale and colors. The illustrations, creative concepts and general visual look came naturally. Colors were hard to nail down and went through several iterations, but it was also rewarding. We had great stakeholders and collaborators on the client side, so we got it done eventually in a way where we all were ecstatic about the end result!
Mirna is a Queens, NYC native living, oop north, in England, working on helping our community be the best it can be. In her spare time, she's part of the CrossFit cult ("how do you know if someone does CrossFit...?") and looks after a baby boy and Frankie the Beagle. See if you can spot her in a video inspired by Ridley Scott/H.R. Giger's "Alien" movie!