When I was 5 years old I was caught drawing on my bed sheets with a ballpoint pen. My mom had to explain that not all surfaces were made for drawing. As a tween, I folded paper into handmade cards and drew a little crown on the back like Hallmark, signing each one “Hagopian Productions.” It all started then. Christina Hagopian
What a wild ride the last 20 years has been! I started the business with just a phone and laptop after the dot.com layoffs ran across the agency world after 9/11. It was a turbulent time to be an agency designer with so many unemployed designers in the field, it felt like the stability in the market was precarious. The world was spinning, e-commerce was just budding and I set my sights on taking one job at time. What I realized quickly is that the clients that I wanted to work with at a high level needed more than design – they needed strategy, photography, messaging, development and a complete marketing ecosystem. I started building teams and creating a virtual agency before it was the thing to do. It was a result of being forward thinking and nimble that catapulted us through.
When I founded the company, the industry was a very different place. The internet was just budding. I’ve gone from Web 1.0 to 3.0 in my career and seen print change from a necessity to a defining of luxurious touch and brand storytelling. Ecommerce was just starting out and mobile devices were not even smart. Our first client was a global cosmetic corporation and we collaborated with the in-house marketing team to update one of their first e-commerce websites. Trusting the color and texture of makeup was our main challenge to communicate to new online shoppers. That trust in the buying process is equally pivotal to brands today. It’s remarkable to witness what has evolved since then and what formats we are designing for now in comparison.
I remember my professors at Carnegie Mellon advising to never get stuck in the same software or application– that design would continue to evolve and it’s the thought process and problem solving that remain constant. And that is true. The industry’s evolution moves in an instant, and it was essential to progress along with it or fade away into antiquity. What has remained constant is the love and respect for design and the relationships in both business and life that have carried me through the past two decades.
Where has design been and where is it going in the next 20 years?
I have witnessed a drastic shift from print design to more digital design over the last 20 years of business, but I believe print is getting more specialized in its application. I believe design is heading into more responsible applications with more sustainable paper and plastic production with recycled and biodegradable materials. It’s not as disposable and more thoughtful.
From a high level industry perspective, I believe the consumer is getting more saavy and more influenced by social media. The speed in which we are consuming design and media is happening at such a greater speed and the amount of content a brand needs to sustain the consumption is increasing. It’s both exciting and overwhelming at the same time.
I believe good design is not to simply beautify, but to visually problem solve by adding meaning, value and function. We ask every client, “What lasting impression will you leave on the world?” Now we are asking ourselves this same question, “How do we as a brand, designer, artist, maker or visionary leave our own mark?” What will our legacy be in what we leave behind? After 20 years in business, the mark is indelible.