Branding and graphic design company Harrison are a multi-disciplinary creative agency, founded by Chris Harrison in 2003. Harrison’s clients and work are widespread and diverse, with their design excellence shining through each project undertaken. Harrison’s focus is to help brands “move forward with inventive ideas”, a notion highlighted within the diversity of their portfolio. Work includes; London Sinfonietta’s annual season brochure, a rebrand for charity English PEN, Natural World Safaris re-design and the 2011 season campaign for the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
We spoke to Chris Harrison, to find out more about the development of Harrison and his creative plans for the future…
Harrison is a multi-disciplinary creative agency; how did your design journey begin?
I set up my agency in Brighton in 2003, after working for 12 years at various agencies around the world – most notably Saatchi & Saatchi, Landor and Brand Union. I always knew that one day I’d set up my own agency. It was whilst working in Sydney for a very inspirational boss, Julian Canny, that the idea galvanised.
I wanted to create the type of agency atmosphere and ethos that Julian had created – a great mix of creative energy and a nice place to work where you feel valued. Another reason for setting up my own agency was obviously to do with creativity and ideas. I wanted to try harder to put creativity front and centre of everything we do. Coming up with creative ideas is the easy bit – getting a client to approve those ideas and to see the value in them, that’s another form of creativity altogether.
Tell us a little about your work?
Our clients vary from philanthropy to pharmaceuticals and everything in between. What binds them together is our approach to their brand communications. We try very hard to look for and find the creative opportunity in each project. Usually the thinking begins away from the computer. I’m an advocate of the philosophy that ‘the world belongs to those willing to get their hands dirty!’, whether it’s a 2b pencil, charcoal, paint or plasticine – new thinking is best produced away from the computer. You can’t ‘type out’ great ideas.
Who is your dream creative client?
A political party rebrand. I worked on a few political campaigns while I was at Saatchi & Saatchi, and I found those very exciting. What I love about that type of work is the crossover. You’ve got to communicate very complex political messages in a very simple and memorable way – I like the immediacy of this and the graphic language that’s associated with it. What also attracts me to political campaigns is the direct impact it has on society. It’s not like working on a campaign for washing powder or dog food (both of which I’ve done too) where the end product isn’t something anyone can really get that fired up about. Political campaigns get attention and usually divide people right down the middle – I like that, it feels like a great challenge.
What has been your favorite project to date?
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment [OAE] invited us to design their 2010/11 season campaign. I’d been working with William Norris, Marketing Director at OAE, for several years. I’d also worked with him when he was a Marketing Officer at London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Around that time I’d been working on a personal self-portrait project, using gaffer tape and empty walls. I wanted to try something graphic with the self-portraits, and gaffer tape allowed me to sketch and make marks, and then interact with the shapes on the wall. I knew I was onto something with the gaffer tape shots and I knew I wanted to turn it into a commercial project. The OAE brief seemed like a good opportunity to take the gaffer tape idea for a spin.
The unexpected part was how the project went viral once we launched the campaign. Classical music lovers and followers of the OAE from Italy to Iowa blogged about the campaign. One of my favourite quotes was from an Opera blogger in Italy who commented, “…outsider art meets home depot”. Couldn’t have put it better myself.
Can you tell us what you’re working on at the moment and maybe give us a sneak peek?
Outside of graphic design I’m very into health and fitness. I’m a member of a strength and conditioning gym in Brighton called Connect. I’ve got to know the two owners, Dave and Holly, really well – and I’ve done one or two bits of small design work for them over the last two years. They are growing their business rapidly. After moving into a new 5000 sq ft facility (now the largest strength and conditioning facility in the South East UK) they asked me to take a look at their brand and the growing number of classes they offer. I’ve helped Dave and Holly to rationalise the brand into a coherent, family structure. Here’s a little teaser that we’ve put into a fitness magazine ahead of rolling out the brand in January 2014. I’d love to work with more sports brands, it’s an area that I’m really passionate about.
Harrison are an exciting agency with a fresh approach. The creative connections Harrison have forged are emphasized in their inspirational work and innovative approach to the multi-disciplinary design sphere. Here at GraphicDesign.com we can’t wait to see what 2014 holds for Harrison.
Which are your favorite Harrison creations?
See more from Harrison HERE.