Erin Hamilton

GREEN19-ERIN-HAMILTON

ERIN HAMILTON DESIGN
PRESIDENT EMERITUS, AIGA ALASKA
ANCHORAGE AK

Erin Hamilton is the principal and creative director of Erin Hamilton Design. Established in 2001, EHD is an award-winning multidisciplinary design agency based in Anchorage AK. We collaborate closely with clients to produce high quality, finely-crafted brand experiences.

HOW AND WHY DID YOU COME TO USE DESIGN TO ADVANCE SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE AND/OR SUSTAINABLE PROJECTS, CLIENTS AND CAUSES?

Growing up in Michigan, I dreamed of being a designer, but I didn’t have any exposure to the design world. In high school, my parents shook their heads and warned me that any creative path was a sure road to starvation. My teachers told me I should do something more meaningful and “real” like going to law school or into business. By the time college came around, I had formed the idea that a career in design was a pipe dream. And even worse, I felt guilty about wanting to pursue such a shallow endeavor.

Luckily, fate intervened. While studying economics at the University of Michigan, a design job randomly fell in my lap. It was the nineties — the gold rush era of the fledgling internet industry. A friend was working at a new web design studio in Ann Arbor. She got me an interview, and by interview I mean meeting the owner for a beer and promising I was a fast learner and fun to work with. Miraculously, he hired me, and from day one I was in love with the work. My guilt about being a designer started to melt away as I saw how powerful design can be as a tool for communication, and a force for change.

20 years and a move to Alaska later, I’ve built my practice to focus on doing purposeful work for mission-driven clients. From sustainability in the fishing industry to the fight against domestic abuse, I know that the client work we do will have an impact. For the last 10 years I’ve been very involved in AIGA at the local and national levels, because they tirelessly advocate for the value of the design. In the end, my motivation to prove my parents and teachers wrong has turned into a long and meaningful career in design, and I’m grateful for it every day.

DOES 2019 PRESENT ANY SPECIAL CHALLENGES, OPPORTUNITIES, URGENCIES, OBSTACLES IN DEVELOPING GOOD AND/OR SUSTAINABLE DESIGN?

Technology, the climate, the political landscape… things are changing fast and design is more important than ever. As designers, we have a special ability to cut through the noise and create change in a way that no one else can. The process of design thinking is revolutionizing the business world. Designers are getting a seat at the table for the first time, because the way we make emotional connections between people and ideas is powerful and valuable. I think design is having a moment right now, and I hope we as an industry can grab the brass ring and run with it!