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How did you get started in design? When I started university, I wanted to study cinema, but I couldn’t because it was a very small university, with only 80 students. So, I turned to my second option, which was design. I wanted to do something creative because I always loved painting and making things by hand when I was a kid.

How did you establish your studio, Hey? When I finished university, I worked at three or four different studios in Barcelona in the span of seven years. I realized that I wanted to put my own point of view and style into the projects I work on. So, I decided to set up my studio when I was 27 years old. It was in my home—just me and a computer.

What do you wish you had known when you first founded your studio? I’m a designer, but at the same time, I’m running a business. That was the most difficult part for me because the university taught me design studies, not business studies. I think all designers who run their own studios would agree. I was also young, so of course I made a lot of mistakes, but I think all these mistakes were good. It’s difficult to have the magic touch when you start.

What changes have you observed in the graphic design industry since you first started your studio twelve years ago? Social media. When I started, there was no social media; there was no Instagram. It was a big change for all creative people, not just designers, because it’s a way to be everywhere, and it’s free. I think social media helps open creativity and creative people to the world.

What excites you about design right now? When I first started, clients needed a big firm, and now just your talent is necessary. And, it’s also no longer necessary to have 50 people. At the studio, we have five people, including me, and two people work at HeyShop. We have seven in total. Now, you can also work wherever you want. You can work remotely, and you can collaborate with anyone. You can grow whenever you want, or you can stay small. That’s the flexibility designers have now.

People are also taking basic aspects of design—the ideas, the concepts—and making them in new ways. It could be expensive or cheap, animated or virtual. The idea is the same no matter how you create it, but designers are going further and further with how they bring their ideas to life.

How has working on projects for HeyShop helped the studio grow creatively? Five years ago, I started the online shop and physical store in Barcelona, where we sell our products. It’s very positive to have personal projects. With clients, you have really tight timelines and they ask you for more or less the same thing. But with your personal projects, there are no boundaries, so you can do whatever you want and explore new styles. It’s also a great way to get the clients to choose from the store, where they say, “I like this, and I want you to do this for me as well.” There’s a lot of variety between the commercial and the personal, but each helps the other.

There’s a lot of variety between the commercial and the personal, but each helps the other.”

What is unique about the creative industry in Barcelona? I was born in a village outside Barcelona, and I studied in Barcelona. I think Barcelona is a small city, but at the same time, international. There is creativity everywhere you go. It’s not only in design; it’s in photography, painting, street art, product design and digital art. Everywhere you go, you see creativity flowing in people. And it’s not just people from here, but from all around the world. The competition is strong. You might think that’s bad for you, but the more competitors you have, the more risks you need to take and the farther you need to go. And that’s good for your work.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given in your career? When I was doing an internship, someone told me that you need to be friends with all your collaborators and your suppliers. I remember that very well because sometimes, with projects and clients, you want to finish quickly and just go away. But it’s good to keep calm and continue. Always finish good, not bad.

Verònica Fuerte is a designer and illustrator from Barcelona. After earning a degree in graphic design from Elisava Barcelona School of Design and Engineering and a master’s degree in typeface design from EINA, Centre Universitari de Disseny i Art de Barcelona, she worked for several design studios in Barcelona. In 2007, she founded her own studio, Hey, which has grown steadily ever since. She received the ADC Young Guns 7 award, and her work has been featured by media outlets such as AIGA, Communication Arts, designboom and It’s Nice That. Fuerte also teaches in several universities in Barcelona and frequently speaks at international conferences.

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