Mark Hannon is a Stratford-based graphic designer and illustrator and currently the president of the Coastal Arts Guild of CT.
Mark has worked on national accounts for medium to large ad agencies. He is able to offer big agency expertise to smaller clients who operate on smaller budgets.
Mark is married to Anne Mulligan, the Guild’s executive vice president. They have 3 cats.
SAG: Mark, you are a designer for commercial brands and products and websites. So you have to be creative, but also stay true to concepts that are not your own. How does that work for you?
MH: Graphic design is a mix of right- and left-brain skills. You have to create artwork which has visual appeal but also solves a problem for a client. Problem solving requires using analytical skills simultaneously while thinking creatively. Clients value designers who can successfully apply both skills. In addition I have worked for and alongside many marketing professionals. These people helped teach me how to create a visual message that persuades or sells.
But to answer your question more directly, my background is in sales promotion where the focus is getting the consumer’s attention and not being subtle about it. I enjoy creating these types of designs, whether it’s designing point-of-sale displays or packaging which demands to be noticed on the shelf.
SAG: You’ve worked on products for huge names we’re all familiar with, like Bigelow Tea, Elizabeth Arden, and Subway. These aren’t “similar” brands. What is it about a designer’s style that draws a client to them, do you think?
MH: What gives clients a comfort level with a designer is familiarity with the client’s business. Whether it’s food & beverage, beauty or healthcare, if a client sees examples of brochures, ads or online marketing from their industry in the designer’s portfolio, they will be more willing to assign their design projects to that individual. Every type of business is unique in how they reach their audience or customers. Showing that I understand their visual marketing needs helps close the deal.
It also helps if the client unsuccessfully tried to create their own marketing materials by assigning the work to the secretary’s kid. My work will always outshine the secretary’s kid.
SAG: You design for print media, yet also for websites and other digital media. Do you have a preference?
MH: My experience and comfort-level is in print media but I like to push myself out of my comfort zone. Digital media requires a level of technical skill on top of the creative. I have gotten a lot of satisfaction from developing more left-brain skills as part of my design tool set.
SAG: If you get a chance, do you create art for its own sake? For fun or to sell?
I enjoy creating fine art once I am doing it. But getting myself motivated to start a new piece is my biggest hurdle. But I am hoping to have a new piece ready for Art In The Studio.
You can talk to Mark Hannon about his art and design work at our next meeting, or have a look at his portfolio online.