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How to deliver design beyond expectation

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How to deliver design beyond expectation
Photo: Dixie Thomas Hughes
14:37 CEST+02:00
The Local meets David V. Hughes, a US expat in Stockholm, that has brought his own label of determination and discovery to the design process.

Company name: davidvhughes.com

Graphic design studio, specializing in B2B, B2C, creative, corporate and everything in between.

Name of and job title of interviewee: David V. Hughes

Tell us a little about your background.

I grew up and attended art school in New York where I attained a BFA in 3D illustration. However, my professional career began in San Francisco where I spent many years building sets and props for TV and film. I always had graphic design jobs on the side here and there and really enjoyed the different set of challenges that the discipline presented.

Yet, after ten years in California, the East Coast kid in me wanted to get back to New York where I continued designing and building sets for several years as well as taking on more design jobs. I moved to Stockholm about three years ago from Brooklyn after reconnecting with a long lost friend and ended up, very enthusiastically making her my wife.

What inspired you to start the company?

A typical response would be my passion and love of all things design, but that wouldn't really be me. Honestly, after so many years in the set design and construction business, I just grew tired of lifting heavy things over my head and fearing the possibility of losing a finger in a power tool. Along with the allure of a new city and new country, I felt I was ready to make a commitment to a career change. Due to my education and design experience, it was a logical and organic transition. It has proven to be a very gratifying decision.

What's the nicest thing a customer has ever said about your company?

I recently completed a job for an audio engineer that needed artwork created for his company's very first magazine advertisement. I worked my butt off to make something special and we were all really pleased with how it turned out. He wrote me a note afterwards stating that he was: "floored with the quality of the experience." That made me happy because although I always want to produce beautiful work for my clients, it is terribly important to me for the process to be just as rewarding.

What keeps you awake at night?

Good design is problem-solving. I stare at the ceiling quite often, figuring out ways to solve problems. Some of my most productive work is accomplished away from my computer in complete darkness.

If I contact your company, will you be able to speak with me in English?

Absolut! My Swedish continues to improve but sadly, it is still pretty crappy. I am currently focusing on attracting English speakers that are not quite comfortable with doing business in Swedish. I am after all, an avid reader of thelocal.se and am marketing my services to the very same demographic to which I belong.

Are there any projects that you would turn down?

I generally like to stay away from website creation. Contrary to what many people believe, it is an entirely different skill set. I am very happy to create the graphics for websites, but the coding is an area that goes beyond my very basic understanding. Aside from that, no job is too small. I welcome any and all proposals, and will treat them all with the same enthusiasm and dedication.

What kind of projects do you get most excited about?

I really enjoy working with musicians and other creatives. Their projects tend to give me the most freedom and they are usually more open to taking risks. But not all the time. Since their work is usually very personal, they can sometimes be very cautious and self-aware. Then again, who isn't?

What is your coolest product?

My coolest product is always the one I am currently working on. I know that sounds like a Miss America answer, but it really is true. I take every project very seriously regardless of size or budget and I dive into every detail. I push myself on every job to try new things and use different techniques to gain better results. It is this determination and discovery that always makes every new project cooler than the last.

Describe your company in three words.

Accessible. Consistant. Discerning.

Those seem like odd choices for a design business. What about 'creative', 'innovative' and 'visionary'?

I don't really need to describe my company in those terms. I have a portfolio for that and people can make up their own minds. For me, it is more important to be accessible to my clients and work closely as partners to reach a goal.

Consistency is probably the most overlooked practice of small business and I take a lot of pride in the fact that I respect my clients enough to always keep them informed and deliver when promised. Being discerning is a must given the intricacies and mercurial nature of the industry. Being aware of the latest design trends and recognizing current conventions is extremely important.

Why should potential customers choose you for their design projects?

First off, I am very friendly and open. I know first-hand that that Sweden can be very cold and distant sometimes and this can truly be discouraging for expats trying to find their way in a new culture.

Potential customers can be assured that they will always be welcomed as a part of the process and feel extremely comfortable about being so. But perhaps more importantly, my main objective is to always deliver beyond the expectations of my clients. I want them back.

What is the biggest mistake that people make in choosing a designer?

Trusting their needs to an amateur. People think that since they have a friend/nephew/cousin with design software that they are capable of designing the company logo or business card. In the same way that owning a camera does not make someone a photographer, owning Adobe Illustrator doesn't make someone a graphic designer. It is just a tool. Experience and training are essential.

Describe your future vision for the company.

Currently, I have many clients in the US that were thankfully unfazed by my relocation to Stockholm. The internet has really transformed the industry in that way. However, I would like to really grow my client base here in Sweden.

It is important for me to become a bigger part of the community, and work around the people with which I live. But this is not an entirely selfish position. If I can assist a small business grow, or help another entrepreneurial expat with their design needs, it will certainly result in the enrichment of their involvement in the community as well.

Article sponsored by davidvhughes.com

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