'If a logo works at 16px, you've cracked it'

.net: Which stage of your work process do you enjoy most, and why?

JH: The start is my favourite part. The air is full of possibilities and you can get a real buzz from the creative process, sketching and brainstorming, trying out every idea, no matter how odd it seems at the time. My motivation dwindles the longer the project goes on, especially on sites where the last stages are debugging in Internet Explorer!

.net: How would you describe your style?

JH: Someone I worked with in my publishing days paid me what I consider to be the greatest compliment. She told me that I had a "lightness of touch" (steady now!) that was evident in my designs. I'm not sure if anyone else sees it that way, but if I had to pin down a style, I'd say it was that.

.net: What makes a good logo or icon?

JH: Simplicity. If it works at 16px, you've cracked it! For icons, there's more of an element of following convention. Icons are used for interaction, so they need instant recognition. If it's an icon to represent 'home', then make it a simple symbol of a home. Don't add detail or borders, which create noise and slow recognition time. Creating it at 16px makes sure you get the salient points across concisely.

.net: How do you feel about your work, specifically branding and logos, being altered?

JH: I try to have a thick skin about it, and I'm better than I used to be, but it still upsets me. I remember completing the logo for Rails, only to discover that the logo had then been passed to the community and subsequently altered. It wasn't too drastic: the rigid 'r' was made into a sweeping curve, but I would rather have made the changes myself, based on community feedback. I guess that's the open source nature of Ruby on Rails.

.net: Where do you look for inspiration?

JH: Going for a walk, reading a magazine, doodling, blogs – too many sources to mention. I collect everything I can and keep it in a folder on my desktop. I then view and tag these with an application called Leap.

.net: What are you currently working on? What's in the pipeline?

JH: Apart from the last push to finish Opera 10, I've been working on the next versions of the Desktop and Mini browsers. I have a few non-Opera projects launching soon, such as the educational resource dnadarwin.org and a new site for segpub.com.au.


.net: What's the most bizarre request you've ever had from a client?

JH: I'm not sure if this really counts as 'bizarre', but shortly after the Firefox logo launched, I had a lot of requests for animal logos. The best one was for 'Burning Monkey Software', who wanted a (wait for it) monkey with its tail on fire, wrapped around a CD. I politely declined!