When I grab a coffee with designer Randy Hunt in a café near his studio, we quickly lose track of time. We digress into business models, corporate social responsibility, and mass marketing. Such subjects arise easily when talking to Hunt, who, for the past five years, has owned and operated Citizen Scholar, “a responsible design consultancy,” as he describes it on his website. There, he and partner Ross Pike work on a range of projects in web, print, and branding for a variety of clients—mostly nonprofit organizations, local businesses, and cultural institutions
Other recent initiatives have also pushed the definition of designer as entrepreneur: Hunt developed Supermarket, a digital storefront platform for emerging designers to sell their home goods, clothing, jewelry, and prints, with colleague, studio mate, and Elsewares founder Ryan Deussing. Hunt calls projects like Supermarket “designing the context within which other things happen.” Unfettered and utilitarian, his gentle aesthetic touch lets the content speak for itself.
Hunt developed his systematic approach to design while experimenting with band logos and flyers in high school and as an undergraduate at the University of Central Florida. He soon possessed an acute awareness of his creative process. He explains, “I like to make very strict constraints for myself, to the point that they become irrational, and I’m forced to create something interesting from it.”
After graduation, while on staff at a small Orlando design firm, Hunt saw firsthand the advantages of a small-studio atmosphere, and decided to start a studio on his own terms. In 2005, he headed to New York and enrolled as a graduate student at the School of Visual Arts, where he met Steven Heller, co-chair of SVA’s Designer as Author program. “His work has a vibrancy that comes from enthusiasm and belief,” says Heller. Indeed, Hunt seems to have conquered the dilemma of how to do the work you love, be your own boss, maintain a moral compass, and still make money. As a designer, entrepreneur, and humanitarian, Hunt shows you can have it all.