Crafting visuals for the sonic world with graphic designer Hello Rabbit
We talk to Helen Rabbitte AKA Hello Rabbit on designing all things music, and how the “trippy and bizarre” moments of decades gone inspire her.
- Joey Levenson
- 14 September 2021
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
London-based and Liverpool-born graphic designer and illustrator Helen Rabitte AKA Hello Rabbit has a portfolio that is particularly musical. Her clientele list covers a more independent terrain, ranging from Peggy Gou to Alaina Castillo, and personal projects with Death Row Records and Lauryn Hill. Helen’s interest in graphic design was first piqued by the sense of direction, “finding a solution to a problem,” she tells us. But overall, it’s a sense of fun that Helen keeps in her work to make sure it always aligns with the vibrant energy and sonic qualities of the musical clients she works with. “I like my work to have a sense of vibrancy and fun, with a heavy hit of nostalgia,” Helen says of how she captures her aesthetic with that of the briefs she receives. “I then like to combine it with a really modern typeface or arrangement,” she explains. Often, loud colours and complementary dynamic font choices are the standards to reiterate the contemporary nature of her client’s work. But, it’s important Helen keeps things from being too polished. “I also like my designs to have a bit of a raw, handmade finish, so I add a lot of textural overlays,” she says. “I don’t like anything to look too polished.”
It’s tempting, with such specific clientele and a particular vision in music, to become complacent in the graphics that accompany it. Helen tries to stay fresh with her ideas. “I try not to get too stuck in my ways,” she says. “Creating work in a really strict style can become tiring very quickly, so I’m always up for trying out new mediums, and constantly thinking of new ways to approach a project.” Perhaps that’s why Helen’s work was striking to us, as it contains a certain level of edge and grit that keeps it from being homogenised. “I always try to create a world around the artist and ensure everything I design is unique to them and their vision.”
“I always start the brief by listening to the song(s) on repeat for a while, and literally just daydream and see what my head comes up with,” she explains on working with musical clients. “The research phase is my favourite, but I’ve had to learn to be strict with myself and stick to one to two mood boards so I’m not derailed from the original brief.” Sticking to the core message of the brief is key to Helen’s work, and it’s why she is regularly commissioned. But, it’s not all about sticking to someone else’s vision. Helen encourages the discovery of inspiration from outside the visual realm. “I get inspired looking in record stores, at books, old magazines, films, video games, and just by wandering around the city,” she tells us. “I’m also pretty fascinated with 80s and 90s pop culture and I love how a piece of design can reference what was going on culturally at that time.” As an explant from Liverpool now in London, it’s no doubt Helen has been surrounded by a rich culture her whole life – all of which pools fantastically in her work. “I try to continually collect material throughout the year, so that way when a brief comes through, I’ll often know exactly what I want to do with it because of a reference I’ve picked up earlier.”
Next for Helen is the continuation of Hello Rabbit as the go-to graphic design for music, advertisement, and creative commissions with the city-edge she’s now known for. “I’d really like to expand my studio next year and do more art direction on larger projects,” she tells us. “I’d love to work with more musicians and creatives I admire, and just carry on learning and growing as both a designer and creative director.” But, it’s mainly a collaboration with Nike that Helen is keen to bag next. We have no doubt she will.
Hello Rabbit Design x Soulection: Joe Kay Presents (Copyright © Hello Rabbit Design 2019)