Original Interview: October 2014

We’re Open

Yianni Hill is from South Australia, who heads up We’re Open! Yianni won his way to Italy through AGIdeas and studied and worked at Fabrica, meeting and working with the worlds top emerging designers and problems solvers. We chat personal projects, travel, getting inspiration and good mentors.

Tell us about how you got started in the industry?
I got my first opportunity in the industry when I was still studying at university. One of my lecturers was doing some marketing work for a financial company and was looking for someone to come in and help launch a new financial product. At the time I felt like I had been thrown in the deep end, but it was a perfect way to gain a lot of experience in a short space of time working with the client, printers, photographers and web developers.

The real kick starter for me though came shortly after when I was awarded a scholarship at the AGIdeas conference. As a result I was able to work amongst other young creatives from all over the world at Fabrica, Benetton’s Communication Research Centre based in northern Italy. It was an experience that gave me the time, the surrounding and the guidance to unlock some of the potential which I think may have been more difficult to discover in a traditional graphic design studio setting. I was able to develop my particular approach to problem solving by working on a large diversity of different projects, ranging from those initiated by Fabrica to workshops run by leading creatives to projects of social concern alongside commercial advertising and graphic design briefs – all without the kind of time pressure you would typically find in the industry.

Tell us your favourite spots to get inspired?
I think inspiration can be found in everything and anything, so I try to let each brief direct me to different places for inspiration rather than returning to the same spots. Having said that, the internet is obviously a great portal to masses of knowledge and therefore a place I go to again and again for research and inspiration. The internet has also become an amazing way of viewing so much other inspiring creative work. However I think this has created a dangerous situation where designers can be drawn, whether subconsciously or not, to mimic the work they admire and risk bypassing important steps of the creative process which help generate new and original ideas.

I like to look at the work I admire and try and find inspiration in the thought processes that have lead to the solution. I like to work out what the brief must have been and what kind of thinking or what kind of questions the creative asked themselves to arrive at the end result. I can then apply those same methods of thinking to different briefs and end up with different and hopefully original results.

We Are Open

We Are Open

Which three people in the design industry would you pick as mentors and why?
Paul Hughes – a captivating communicator who would provide incredible insight into design strategy.

Stefan Sagmeister – an obvious choice, but his approach to problem solving never fails to inspire.

Michal Batory – a wonderful image maker who is able to communicate so much with so little.

What do you look for in a great portfolio?
A great portfolio should be full of great ideas – ideas that surprise, that communicate in original ways and which are memorable. Demonstrating a variety of different visual approaches, technical skill and attention to detail is also important but it is the quality of thinking that I’m always looking for in a portfolio. Great ideas, even if not brilliantly executed, stand out above average ideas that have been well executed. I also find it refreshing to see personal or side projects that give an insight into a designer’s own interests.

We Are Open We Are Open

Whats the big goal in the next five years?
To find more time for personal projects, develop a range of design products and spend some more time travelling overseas with camera in hand.


We Are Open