As a child Kate Harmer would color imaginary ads for commercials she heard on the radio… These days she is the Founder & Creative Director of Hum Creative. Kate tells us the importances for creatives to exercise both types of expressions (art & design), and a passion project that involves Donald Trump’s worst quotes!
What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design? As a child I colored imaginary ads for commercials I heard on the radio, drew letters over and over, and built furniture for my barbies out of scotch tape and whatever scraps I could find. In junior high I overheard my dad tell someone that he thought I may go to art school someday, and I was so relieved that my parents just knew. I feel very lucky, I always knew what I wanted to do.
Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?
After studying illustration at Cornish College of the Arts, I was hired as a designer at the Starbucks Creative Group and also freelanced for years. I went back to school to focus on typography and design while earning my MFA at Rhode Island School of Design. I had a handful of teachers at RISD who ran their own studios. They showed me that you can be a designer on your own terms and inspired me to start Hum.
Give us the elevator pitch on what you do. Hum Creative is a full service creative agency specializing in strategy, branding, and design.
What does a typical working day include for you right now? I used to work well into the evenings, but now that I am a mom I’ve learned to be much more efficient with my time. In between a barrage of emails, I meet with my team to strategize, brainstorm, and creative direct our projects. I also spend a lot of time meeting with potential and current clients. I eat lunch quickly in the late afternoon, only after I am completely starving and can’t put it off any longer.
What do you look for in a great portfolio? I look for smart creative thinking, a point of view, flexibility, and great type skills.
Any passion projects you would like to share? Hum is my passion project! Running this business is a design challenge in itself and I truly never stop thinking about how to do it better. It motivates me like nothing else ever has, or probably ever will. As a studio, we were compelled by the 2016 U.S. election to create hirethedonald.com, a website which presents Donald Trump’s worst quotes and (lack of) qualifications in the form of his résumé. Seattle is a bit of a progressive bubble, so we were thrilled that the site was visited by people from every state and from over 100 countries.
What career advice would you give your 16yr old self?
I would tell my teenage self to keep painting and drawing. As my career moved toward design and creative direction, I slowly stopped working with the mediums that first attracted me to art. Design is often about conveying a very specific set of messages to a focused audience. A painting can mean something different to everyone who sees it. I think it is important for creatives to exercise both types of expression.