Gré Hale has always had an interest in lettering and art. ‘My mum tells me I was a prolific imitator of cereal box typography from the age of eight,’ says Hale, who also mentions his early love of graffiti and tattoos. ‘But I think I discovered that what I wanted to do was called “graphic design” at art college while reading Peter Saville’s book one afternoon,’ he adds.
Hale moved on from cereal boxes to typography, short film, magazine and branding projects at Manchester-based Love Creative. A steep learning curve was required from the recent graduate, but Hale has a healthy dose of ambition. ‘I don’t think there are strict criteria [for what makes a good graphic designer], but good ideas are important, as is a thirst for improvement,’ he says.
One of Hale’s strengths is in branding, and he has recently helped secure a brief for a major US broadcaster, beating other consultancies from London and Los Angeles. ‘Design is making something that works for its intended purpose,’ Hale explains. ‘I start a project looking for an idea. This could be hiding anywhere, possibly in conversation or in the pub, or maybe it’s on a blank page in a layout pad.’ One of his recent successes was a new youth magazine for Christian Aid, Ctrl+Alt+Shift. The project was produced by former Sleaze Nation editor Neil Boorman and targeted at 14- to 25-year-olds. ‘That was hard to work on,’ says Hale. ‘It was the first magazine I art directed, so initially I was trying my best to make it a piece of beautifully crafted magazine design.’ But Boorman said it had to be a bit more ‘low-brow and dirty’, which suited the 23-year-old Hale fine. ‘I think we got there in the end.’
He also worked on the new University of the Arts London prospectus, which he says was ‘a dream job: a book for a creatively minded client’. The concept came from the function of the prospectus itself – it had to stand out from all other prospectuses. ‘I got rid of the token campus photography, the mandatory positive quotes about facilities and smiling students, and focused primarily on what actually mattered: the work.’ He believes the most educational bit was going to Italy to proof the print and sign off the binding. ‘I learned a lot about processes, and it was all very interesting,’ he says.
Valued at Love for his approach, and currently ‘revisiting drawing in a big way’ in his personal time, Hale is taking every project as it comes. ‘I’m not sure what my ambitions are yet, aside from learning more and having a prodigious vocabulary,’ he says