Hillary Andrews: The MML Interview

By on 17 April, 2013 in Art with 3 Comments

Hillary's self-portrait. All works here copyright Hillary Andrews.

We’ve had our eye on Hillary Andrews since she photographed a friend’s wedding a few years ago in her capacity as a principal of Pint Bottle Photography. We were very impressed with PBP’s pictures of the wedding – they somehow brought a fresh perspective to an ancient tradition, with an eye for texture and contrast that made the event sing in your memory long after the bluegrass music was over. Since then, we’ve known Hillary to work in other photographic settings, including events we attended. But a few weeks ago we heard her name in a totally different context – Troy’s NPR station (which is our go-to station for news during dinner prep) informed us that she’d won Student Designer of the Year in a prestigious contest. Now we really wanted to get to know her and see the work which won her accolades. Also, we wanted to get a glimpse into the life of a working young Montgomery designer. We sat down with Hillary on a rainy night at Leroy last week to talk shop.

MML: Okay, tell us about this big award you won and how you got selected.

Hillary: The American Advertising Federation puts on an Addy event every year – it’s like the Oscars of advertising. There are several levels of competition. Students or professionals can send in their work. You pay to enter and enter as many times as you want. I’m a student at Troy, and the school encouraged us to enter. I ended up submitting four pieces and won two gold and one silver as well as Student Designer of the year for our area – including Auburn, Montgomery and Troy. Honestly, I was shocked when I heard I won. I was over the moon! I was not expecting to be at that level. Because I am an intern in my department, I actually handled all of our entries, so I knew they were super high caliber. That left me even more shocked when I won.

The major award I received was for posters I did for Head on the Door as part of my senior thesis. I did a whole campaign for them, including a website, T-shirts, a logo, and these posters. The posters received a gold award. I also got gold for an interactive Flash project I did and silver for my own website at ahhadesigns.com.

MML: How did you get interested in design?

Hillary: For me, it really started with photography. I spent a long time in college trying to figure out how I fit in. Photography was really my thing. I decided to go to school at Troy because of their very strong program, and I commute every day. I loved graphic design, and I have found a lot of support there – an amazing teacher named Ed Noriega has taught me so much. For someone who didn’t know what they wanted to do, it is amazing to find a place you belong. I sometimes wondered if there was something wrong with me wanting to fix, for example, the design of a poster in the doctor’s office, but now I realize it’s just because I care about design. Our society is so visual that if something doesn’t immediately click visually, people move on. There’s a lost opportunity to connect in that moment, and it shows that design is one of the most important ways that people connect with each other. It’s really easy to ignore bad design, but good design can stop you in your tracks.

MML: What’s it like being a designer in Montgomery?

Hillary: There are good firms in town like Cunningham Group and LWT – they do great large scale work. There are also smaller clients and smaller businesses coming into Montgomery every day who have design needs. This creates opportunities for young designers like me to get their work seen. One of the coolest parts of being a designer is the opportunity to get your work seen out there. Troy has really been excellent in helping me get out there. The art department has been an inspiration and many of the faculty deserve medals for dealing with artists. We don’t take tests or do a lot of things that other students do. The people who teach us really are a rare breed.

MML: What advice do you have for someone thinking of a career in design?

Hillary: Find a good teacher and practice. Just like in any career, you have to dedicate yourself to it. People think that design is easy, but it’s not. I spend a lot of time studying and learning on my own. There are a lot of resources available, even for free, but you have to have the passion to design and create. There’s just no substitute.

MML: What can you tell us about this campaign for Head on the Door that won you such awards? The posters are pretty amazing.

Hillary: I started building the logo after talking to the clients. Then after that, I moved on to flyers and posters. I knew many of the bands that play there because of my work with Pint Bottle Photography, so I had a feel for what I was looking for. I tried to find images that I could use and add to. Really, for these posters I used a vintage style combined with texture. I think that fits with the grungy style of the bar.

MML: What’s your creative process like? How do you go from start to finish on a project?

Hillary: I like to create things that I want to look at, and I am pretty picky. I think that helps. It really comes down to taste – I often find myself making things that are a little dirty or grungy, because that is to my taste. I continue to be inspired by Raygun Magazine. David Carson is my design icon, and like him I often find myself taking images and dirtying them. I throw paint on them and mess them up in different ways. I think it’s a reaction to squeaky clean images. Dirty isn’t always gross – the images I create are richer because of the layers I add. My photography is also a little grungy – I find myself interested in derelict buildings and trash.

MML: So, you’re about to graduate. What’s next?

Hillary: I’m actively seeking clients and looking forward to the next phase in my life.

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There Are 3 Brilliant Comments

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  1. My amazingly talented daughter!

  2. Bert Andrews says:

    my granddaughte!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!r i’m so proud of her

  3. From firsthand experience, I can certainly vouch for her photography skills–amazing!

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