We discuss his latest design work with tea brand OFFBLAK.
Thomas Hedger is a rising British designer who has already proven his mettle. He has had work commissioned by a small variety of established companies and institutions including The Guardian, The British Museum, and WeTransfer. Using a chiefly primary colour palette, Hedger’s work is commonly derived from bold, simplistic drawings with the occasional use of textures that stray beyond a simple colour fill. It’s contemporary, and though uses some of the tropes of ‘flat’ design affiliated with our era of design, it feels fresh, lively and exciting. Having graduated from Central Saint Martins, Hedger has had a busy schedule working with an array of clients.
His latest work is with OFFBLAK is a tight marriage of the company’s ethos and Hedger’s design as mentioned above; fresh, lively, and exciting. OFFBLAK teas present ‘A New Generation of Tea’ for the modern tea drinker. Dividing their blends into four types; ‘Fully Charged’, ‘Chill Out’, ‘Glow’, and ‘Caff Free’, OFFBLAK believe that you shouldn’t have stick to the standard green and black varieties and sacrifice taste or excitement for your cuppa. A modern tea brand, then, needs a modern design. That is where Hedger came in.
Discussing his influences, Hedger describes the art and environment that contextualise his design work. He found the environment he grew up in encouraged him to pursue design with an emphasis on colour. “Growing up in the ‘90s has been the biggest influence on my work. I absorbed the suburban surroundings, from the lo-fi rise of the internet to ‘in-your-face’ loud cartoons. It was a pretty grey place, so I’ve found myself drawn to colour.”
Understandably, Hedger found himself drawn to artists that emphasise colour. “Artists I admire are [ones I admire] very much for their colour treatment,” Hedger explains. “Patrick Heron, Ellsworth Kelly, Tal R [are some artists I admire] to name a few. I love paintings. I know that seems like a contrast against the work I make, but sometimes escaping the familiar is great! The scale, vibrancy, and textures of these artists inspire me to think differently with my work.”
Considering Hedgers work for OFFBLAK, he enjoyed the creation of the ‘Chill Out’ types of tea. In the design work, he wanted to capture a more abstract and mood orientated feeling as opposed to illustrating something that reflected the product. “The ‘Chill Out’ category is probably my favourite,” Hedger says. “[but] I couldn’t pick between them. I think they sink nicely into the relaxed vibe [and] it was a lot of fun trying to capture a mood rather than illustrate something literal. All the designs happily avoid being overly explicit, having a nice play on flavour, it was great working with &Smith on phrases and alternative patterns to try and capture this.”
Of the teas themselves, Hedger lists the ‘Down Time’ teas as a favourite. “[I’m a] big fan of the blueberry and mint ‘Down Time’ tea; just a tasty tea! It’s been amazing working with a product where the response has been so positive, everyone says the teas are delicious, which is a really nice conversation to be a part of.”
Beyond work with OFFBLAK, Hedger has previously enjoyed work with the creative agency Sid Lee. Hedger had animated work created to advertise for Sid Lee’s ‘Posters for Peace’ competition, in which Sid Lee called on artists around to create posters depicting what peace meant to them. The competition produced 40 final designs. The video itself features psychedelic shots of Hedger’s work with various shots of riot police and protestors superimposed with Hedger’s designs. “It was the first time I’ve really seen my work move and come to life aside from some GIFs that I’ve jumbled together myself,” Hedger explains. “The animator did an awesome job, and they were really cool to work with.”
Hedger describes how he had greater control over the project itself. “Being a longer project, I got to put a lot into it both in terms of the illustrations and direction as well. It was for a great cause, which made it very challenging to pull off successfully, but the team at Sid Lee were amazing in making it work. I’m glad I could be part of a movement for positive action.”
As a contemporary and young designer, Hedger has a clear insight into the future of graphic design. With regards to this, Hedger’s thoughts on the future of graphic design are largely positive and he believes that opportunities for greater expression are to be expected going into the industries future. “The worlds of graphic design and illustration have really loosened up over the last few years,” Hedger explains. “There has been a lot more expression coming through great work, crediting artistic freedom over having to mould into specific ways of working. I hope the scope and potential for artists and designers in the coming years break out into more immersive projects.”