Name: Ben Hartley
Profession: Digital designer
Location: London, England
Ben Hartley is a freelance digital designer specialising in type-driven visual design, branding and digital experiences.
P.S. Ben is currently available for work!
Era of inspiration
For aesthetics alone, I love Art Nouveau for its shameless indulgence and organic textures. Especially when I need a break from the digital, and at times cold, design space we're in.
But Mid-Century Modern design is my go-to for communicating information and ideas clearly and pragmatically—distilling the content into a structured layout, bold typography and vivid colours.
Dotted. My thought process is very structured.
For the first step of a project, I like to plan things out on paper in connected notes and sketches. This is fairly obvious when it comes to web design when you have blocks of content to organise. But even with illustration and font design, dotted paper helps me estimate proportion and divide the page up neatly.
Designer on speed-dial
Bethany Heck. I read her article on multi typeface design when I was in a formative stage of my growth as a designer and it completely blew my mind.
I had always been spoon-fed the idea that you should only use a maximum of 2 typefaces in a design but her rebellion against that taught me to question design conventions.
I’m using this green and yellow combo for a client branding project at the moment and it's giving me such fun, light-hearted energy. I've always loved yellow and how it seems inherently more bright and vivid than other colours—as though it refuses to calm down and step back.
- Firm favourite: Inter by Rasmus Andersson. If I ever need a reliable font that I can set and forget, this is what I fall back on. It’s open source, optimised for readability, and has a nice, neutral tone. It doesn't look half bad at headline sizes either!
- A distant love: Voyage by VJ Type. For me, it’s the peak of type design as art—with the most indulgent curves and details. However, I’ve never had a client project that I could justify using it in—it’s almost too dominant in its personality. I have tried it out on a personal project, where I could let it be the focus of the design. I've even considered getting the ampersand as a tattoo, it's just that stunning.
- Never again: Favorit by Dinamo. It’s not that I think it’s a bad typeface, it's a great design, but I had to use it as the primary font for a company I worked at where it just didn’t suit the information-heavy design I was doing. The quirks were a constant irritation—the 8 is heavier on top and I would constantly be asked if a bug had flipped it upside down!
Digital tools, but as basic as possible.
Simplenote and Clear are my go-to. The minimal functionality keeps me focused on the work itself, not the productivity.
This may be an unpopular opinion, but... clients. At the end of the day, they know what the result needs to be.
I had to learn how to navigate client relationships in a way that gets the right kind of feedback from them. Of course, there are difficult clients that make things hard but the good ones have helped me produce some of my best work.