Target CD David Hartman Shares His Creative Inspiration

Imagine being responsible for a client portfolio that includes 15 brands, 100+ categories and more than 10,000 SKUs. That role falls to David Hartman, creative director of the Brand Design Lab at Target, which focuses on the retailer’s “owned brands.” Hartman is presenting the session, “Big needs small. Small needs big.” as part of the Branding  & Packaging Program at HOW Design Live in May.

Hartman is also co-chair of Target’s Design Month conference, an annual program celebrating design, creativity and innovation across the entire company. (How cool to work for a major company that celebrates a “design month.”)

Hartman’s impressive resume includes stints at Desgrippes Gobé, the Brand Integration Group (BIG) at Ogilvy and the Arnell Group Innovation Lab. He’s worked with clients like P&G, Coca-Cola, Kodak, AOL, Pepsi and The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

We recently queried Hartman on where he looks for creative inspiration …

Where — companies, brands, countries — do you see the most innovative packaging coming from these days?
It seems like a cliché, but from a graphic design perspective, I still see the dominance of British packaging across almost every category in retail, from prepared and packaged food, to home furnishings and apparel. A couple of my favorites are Makers and Merchants and John Lewis.

Makers and Merchants product design

Looking at the world of design around you — graphic, web, product, experience — what catches your eye? What’s your take on the current state of the design field?
It’s exciting to for me see where niche startup brands and smart phone-based apps continue to leverage design to disrupt established, legacy categories.

One good example is in the healthcare space. Compare the overall value proposition of the app Heal against your local doctor’s office or hospital. Which would you choose?

Heal.com homepage

Of course the service needs to deliver on the promise of the brand, but Heal clearly presents a more customer oriented focus versus one that’s designed solely for operational efficiency. I expect this trend to continue to accelerate, especially in the retail space.

Thinking about the span of your career, is there an opportunity — a project, a job, a person — that changed things for you?
I feel very lucky to have attended the School of Visual Arts MFA Design program where I studied with some of the industry’s the most iconic designers, including Milton Glaser, Stefan Sagmeister, Gail Anderson and Bonnie Siegler, to name a few. It was both a humbling experience and the chance of a lifetime for any young designer.

What’s your never-fail source of creative inspiration?
Instagram. It’s the new blog/portfolio/ffffound.

What advice or information are you most excited to share during your presentation?
There is no end point to the process of doing the best work. It can always be improved and requires constant attention, which can be a daunting task at the scale with which an organization like Target operates.

Meet David Hartman and other design leaders from top brands who are part of the Branding & Packaging Program at HOW Design Live. The Atlanta event is your best opportunity to learn from bold thinkers and change-creators in the world of packaging, branding and design — don’t miss it! Register before April 1 for best rates.

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