Marta Hernández on why graphic design can “unleash something bigger”
In Marta’s eyes, design has the power to steer change in politics, social movements and environmental issues.
- Ayla Angelos
- 6 August 2021
“One of my favourite parts of design is the constant exchange of ideas, whether it’s with your team, the client, or even with yourself,” says Marta Hernández, a graphic designer and art director based in Barcelona. Currently working in-house at an agency and freelancing on the side, Marta “takes delight” in all sorts of projects, in whatever shape and form they come. Preferring not to pigeonhole her style to one form of graphic design, she prefers to flex her skills across the board – a tactic she learned and nurtured throughout the entirety of her creative upbringing.
Marta’s childhood consisted of making magazines out of clippings from her mum’s collection of gossip mags, snipping out pages from Bravo and Superpop – the Spanish teen magazines that would then be marked, glued and stuck with all sorts of household items and recycled into Marta’s own creation. “They usually talked about how cool Avril Lavigne was and how hot Edward Cullen was,” she tells It’s Nice That. “I didn’t realise until I did my artistic baccalaureate in high school that, in their own way, those magazines were design.” It was in this moment that she began to discover her own voice in the medium – one that’s utterly multidimensional and experimental – before finishing a BA in graphic design at EINA, University of Design and art of Barcelona. Deliberating an MA in London, she says, “I felt that my time in Barcelona was not over; I feel very grateful to have stayed.”
When it comes to working on a brief, Marta likes to take a considered and slower approach – one that involves plenty of thought and a methodology that moulds to the specific task at hand. Not to mention the inclusion of the more recognisable and visual aspects of her work, such as the bold typography, shapes, splashes of colour and clever art direction. No two processes are the same for Marta, but there is one thing she’s certain of: “good design takes time,” she adds. “First, you need time to research and understand the project and then you should have enough time to experiment and explore every possibility. You need to have open conversations with the team or client and back and forth while looking for ways to move ideas forward. And don’t be afraid to mess up, trial and error can be your best ally!”
If she were to pick out a few consistencies within her practice, however, then it would be the amalgamation of both the analogue and digital techniques. It’s the artful blending of Adobe, Figma, Cinema4D with the hand-drawn lettering, illustrations and typographies that give her work a refreshing edge, a place in which she can splash a dose of her own personality as well as fit the brief. A recent project, for example, is a cooking book called Mañanitas: desayunos y rituales by Soul in the Kitchen chef Claudia Polo and illustrated by Blasina Rocher. Marta was tasked to collaborate on the creation and design of their first book, where fun, colour and play were levelled out on top as the key most important drivers to the design. “The kitchen is fun, it’s a failure and success; it’s getting dirty, improvising sometimes and much more,” adds Marta. The book specifically is about the enjoyment of breakfasts, with each section given its own identity to better represent the versatility that the first meal of the day can bring. This was heightened by the joyous colour palette, which pairs effortlessly with Blasina’s illustrations.
Another project – and her most recent – is Roca Negra, made in collaboration Contrafotografia, a collective that strives to make “accessible and open publications” in response to the current times we live in. This project, then, is a “self-managed contra cultural magazine” that presents an array of essays, articles and interviews “that are considered agitating and stimulating,” says Marta, who’s designing for a “dissatisfied generation with a lot to express but few spaces to do so.” In this sense, the design is progressive and rebellious, having pulled references from Italian magazines from the 70s with their “very austere but aggressive design.” The powerful structures and geometric angles take centre stage, along with the unconventional design format and importance placed on the text.
It seems that which ever way Marta decides to approach a brief – or which ever way the brief takes her – there will always been some kind of anarchist agenda hidden beneath the fonts, grids and colourful graphics. This is because she strives to create something with purpose. “I truly believe in design as a potential factor of change and a communicative tool in our society, in such areas as politics, social movements and environmental issues,” she shares. “I believe in the design that has an intention and that unleashes something bigger: a set of thoughts that finally formalises in something tangible and meaningful.”
Marta Hernández: Anoche (Copyright © Marta Hernández, 2021)
About the Author
Ayla is currently covering Jenny as It’s Nice That’s online editor. She has spent nearly a decade as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.