Briana Hess

BFA, Graphic Design 2014
New York, NY


What are you currently fascinated by and how is it feeding into your work? I am currently fascinated by film and its ability to convey story telling through a directed lens in pure visual communication. Film lets us into the eyes of another by glimpsing the perspective of someone unlike yourself. Empathizing with others different from yourself only serves to open your own experiences and your perception of the world around you. All of the creative works I choose to consume and surround myself with subconsciously feed into my work (sometimes more consciously than others), but to have a wide net of inspiration from which to choose from only helps promote and stimulate my creative process.

Who or what has been the biggest single influence on your way of thinking about design? My single greatest influence on the way I think about and perceive design would be through experimental magazine design and interesting editorial layouts. I tend to follow mostly European and Japanese magazine curation; the interesting use of typography, the unusual use of color pallets, the abstract art direction in their photography is all mesmerizing. I am an avid fan of Tim Walker, Grace Coddington, Alessandro Michele, Edward Enninful and other Creative Directors moving and shaping the visual world in which we move. 

What project or design problem have you faced (in the past or recently) that seemed to be a “failure” but was perhaps an extremely valuable learning experience? When I was working in Store & Window Visual Design, almost every season’s new window concept constantly felt like a failure. Between attempting to convey the vision and direction months out from creation to translating 2D design abstraction into full 3D creative, it was always an uphill struggle. Even though the process itself felt like a failure, I am proud of each window we were able to accomplish with our vision still insight in its final realization. I never envisioned myself working in Window Visual Communications, however I believe what I learned in transforming conceptual ideas into real world solutions while working across a broad spectrum of physical elements were an invaluable lesson.

You are currently a Designer at HATCH Collection in New York City. What is the most interesting or perhaps rewarding part of your daily design work? Are there any specific projects you are extremely proud of and would like to talk about here? (past or present work). My latest project I am most excited about I sadly cannot talk about the product since we have yet to launch the collection (it’s a game changer though!), but it involves creating a family of packaging and all the elements incorporated with the selling of these products across a range of needs.
    However, the most rewarding part of my daily design work is having the ability to work across a multifaceted range of media and for different purposes. It’s a blessing (and sometimes a curse) to work on a small team and therefore maintain ownership over many projects and domains such as site, advertisements, social development, beauty, email, packaging, and printed collateral. It’s difficult to juggle so many assets, but what’s amazing is if I get tired of working on site, I can always switch it up to packaging; each day varies! My favorite design work that I have brought to HATCH Collection would be the incorporation of Video and Motion into all aspects of our brand dynamic. It’s always exciting to venture into new territory and work towards bringing about an interactive and developed experience for our audience. 

You have been working in the fashion design industry for several years. What attracted you to the fashion industry and do you see yourself continuing in this specific field? What advice would you give to students about moving and working in New York? Honestly, I feel that the fashion industry was something I always gravitated towards. Before going to Auburn for Graphic Design, I was interested in a Fine Art Degree with a Minor in Art History (a Minor I still pursued). I was, and still remain, entranced by Art in Antiquity whether that be in paintings, sculpture or architecture. I began exploring modern day artistic expression and found contemporary ingenuity in fashion, so I studied the designers as craftsmen at their own trade and, therefore the transition to see the “art in fashion” was no far stretch for me.
     The advice I would give to other students looking to move and work in New York would be to study. Study despite not having a teacher. Teach yourself and understand completely the industry you are interested in. Knowledge is a powerful thing, it’s possibly your greatest strength. Another piece of advice would be to make the jump. Even if you prepare yourself, you will never feel “ready” or that it’s the right time; anxiety and uncertainty will always try to get the best of you, don’t let it. 

“Teach yourself and understand completely the industry you are interested in. Knowledge is a powerful thing, it’s possibly your greatest strength.”

It’s clear you are successfully working in the field of design. In your opinion is it more difficult for women to become “successful” in the design field? (Expand upon the things that you perceive to be the biggest challenges if possible). I believe in most every field that it is more difficult to become successful or to be taken seriously for a woman, it’s the patriarchal society we live in. However, women across the world and throughout the different generations are taking strides at each level to change that fact of life. Luckily, I have found a wonderful brand which is created by women, designed for women, and encourages women in every level of our company. It feels wonderful to be able to work at HATCH where women are celebrated within and outside of our brand, yet it is hard to dismiss the fact that only 11% of the Creative Directors are women and of that a smaller margin are minority women. We need to encourage each other and promote women as leaders in our industry, not only because they deserve these positions but because it will only serve to further the artistic world if there are more directors with different perspectives and backgrounds to add their voices to the crowd.
     The biggest challenges I personally found when moving to New York was not being given an opportunity whether it was because of my gender, my youth, or because I was from the South (I kid you not, the amount of times I heard “Oh well you don’t sound like you’re from Texas, where’s your accent?”). Not being what people expect is usually a pleasant opportunity however in an industry where “what’s on the page” matters more than ability, without a foot in the door, many others with talent will never be given that opportunity to prove otherwise.

Are there any rules or habits that help you do your design work more efficiently? Organization is key. I’m a big fan of “to do lists”, my entire sketchbook is littered with daily to do’s. I also love to use the assets provided me in everyday life to constantly build and study the ever changing world of design (ie. My Instagram is almost entirely filled with graphic / art / fashion / design inspiration). Keeping aspirational material in the forefront of my mind, even when I’m not at work helps me digest new ideas and concepts quicker.

What advice would you give to student designers preparing to enter into the design field? For students about to enter the design field, I would say take a vacation! Congrats, you graduated, enjoy life before the “grind” with a little treat for yourself! But if you’re too excited to start on your new career path to enjoy a trip to Costa Rica, I would say being a designer with a positive, can-do attitude will revolutionize your life and help you to maintain a happy balance. 

“I worked harder at understanding typography in relation to space and elements of design than any other aspect of my design Education; it was a challenge I was determined to take head on and overcome.”

While you were in school at Auburn, do you remember a specific design project that challenged you the most? I ended up falling in love with typography and layout design during my time at Auburn because it did not come naturally for me. I worked harder at understanding typography in relation to space and elements of design than any other aspect of my design Education; it was a challenge I was determined to take head on and overcome. Typography II was an especially challenging course where I spent countless studio hours (and many all-nighters) trying to solve the problem laid out before me. One particular project that was a quite the beast to master was a book I designed completely in justified alignment, without rivers, and without use of hyphenations. It was a nearly impossible objective, but the end result was worth the effort.

Would you recommend some resources that student designers might find useful? (books, websites, podcasts, etc.) My favorite resource to recommend is to spend some time in museums. If you don’t have easy access to a museum, I do have a few book recommendations: “The Modern Magazine: Visual Journalism in the Digital Era”, “Turning Pages: Editorial Design for Print Media”, and to carry a sketchbook with you everywhere.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were in school? I used to say that I wish I knew how beneficial Internships could be in propelling your career forward, by attaining certain connections and creating a network to rely on once you’ve graduated. I used to say that. Now that I have an exciting and versatile position at HATCH, and maybe it’s easier to say this now, but I would not trade the summers I was able to spend with my family for anything.

Design Samples

Designer responded to questions in 2019 via email.