Member Spotlight: Jim Hargreaves

Member Spotlight is AIGA Pittsburgh’s monthly blog post to showcase a member. This is our chance to learn more about our members and for the community to learn more about each other.

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1. Who are you?
My name is Jim Hargreaves. Pennsylvania native, husband, dog dad, craft beer enthusiast and graphic designer. I’ve lived and worked in Pittsburgh for just shy of 10 years.

2. What do you do for a living?
I own and operate Hampton Hargreaves — a small graphic design studio specializing in identity, packaging and collateral for alcohol, food and retail goods. I work with clients from Pittsburgh to Hawaii, shaping their brand identities to help customers discover and connect with their incredible and delicious creations. On good days, you get free beer and end up at a sandwich tasting. Some days, you spend hours updating ingredient panels.

3. Why did you get involved into the creative field?
I’ve always had a knack for drawing and design, and an interest in why things look the way the look. I should credit my mother, who always brought me along to art galleries, antique stores and architectural sites. As a child I would collect stamps, show programs, clothing tags, bottle caps, etc. I like problem-solving as well, which is probably why graphic design was a much better fit than fine arts. People are always looking at something, collecting something, using something… I suppose I just wanted to be on the creation end of that.

4. How do you find inspiration?
Every project is different. If you’re lucky, there’s a story or the seed of an idea that leads you somewhere — whether it be some type of historic archive or a documentary. I’m a big fan of the Library of Congress online. Other times, you’re on your own… you just have to dig in and start to ask yourself ‘what should this look like?’ Just pull type, textures and graphics until it rings true. Be careful with the notion of inspiration — it’s rare that a great idea just unveils itself. More often, I find that it’s just a matter of work. Look, try, look, try, and look again. Eventually, what’s good sticks.

5. What is your dream project?
I would love to lead a comprehensive rebrand for a top 50 craft brewery or an iconic bourbon brand. Really though, it just comes down to opportunity and resources. If some tiny Pittsburgh pasta sauce brand or coffee roaster was willing to do something truly creative and ready to put real dollars and resources behind it, that’s a dream come true every time.

6. How do you get past creative blocks?
Push through. Just do something, anything… even if it doesn’t look right or feel right. Eventually, one thread leads to another, and the answer gets closer. If that fails, call it a day and get some sleep. It’s amazing how a new day can bring clarity and ideas. There’s no shame in needing some time.

7. How and why did you get involved with AIGA?
All the way back in grad school, it was clear that the AIGA was a real advocate for the profession. I was fortunate to see designers like Joe Duffy and Michael Osborne speak at AIGA events during that time, and I realized that if you wanted to excel and promote the value of design, you had to surround yourself with other like-minded professionals. The AIGA enables that.

8. What is your favorite thing about Pittsburgh?
It’s a real high/low city, in a good way. You can spend a night at the theater followed by an amazing restaurant, or you can go somewhere in a sweatshirt to watch the Pens and eat wings. Pittsburgh is down-to-earth, but also appreciates and supports some really complex cultural endeavors. It’s really beautiful too (when the sun is out). Even after 30+ years, it feels great popping out of the Liberty and Pitt tunnels and seeing that skyline.

9. What are your hobbies?
I’m a craft beer nut and have recently taken to bourbon and whisky as well. My wife and I love eating out and are both avid cooks too. I’ve recently been thinking about how soon we can go back to New Orleans. The rest of my free time is spent rubbing my dog’s belly, which is thoroughly enjoyable despite the fact that I’m doing all the work.

10. Advice to fellow creatives?
Just be honest. Be honest with yourself, and be honest with your clients. That means knowing your worth, valuing the process, and telling clients what they need to hear to get where they want to be. You can buy yourself some time by faking it, but clients that don’t value you will eventually leave you. Do work that you’re excited about, with people you care about, and everything else will get easier.

Follow Jim @hamptonhargreaves
Check out Jim’s work at Hampton Hargreaves

If interested in participating in the Member Spotlight or have any questions, reach out to our Membership Director, Laurel Strongosky at

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