East: Q&A with Ian Hamilton of Ripe

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Ian Hamilton is the senior designer at Ripe, based in Washington, D.C. Their logo (above) for the Art of Peace Foundation, an organization that strives to find peaceful ways to resolve the Tibet conflict, was a winner in the East section of Print‘s 2009 Regional Design Annual.

Print: How do you get most of your work? Self-promotion, word-of-mouth, or another approach?

Hamilton: We do a mix—we really don’t rely on any one form. Quite some time ago, however, Ripe became the local expert on green design practice, and since then we’ve been asked to speak on the topic at various events (most recently by the USGBC). This public speaking exposure along with other methods has been more than enough to keep us busy!

How has the economy changed your design business? Has it affected the designers in your area, and if so, how?

Thankfully, our green practices have proven to be a good match for the recent economic downturn. Many of the practices we suggest to clients, such as smaller print runs, using less ink or recycled papers, or even printing digitally as needed, have proven to be extremely cost effective solutions.

Something we’ve noticed is that lots of designers in our area have begun to cut corners here and there to save on production costs—outsourcing code being one of the most popular practices. However, we’ve learned that, regardless of the economic climate, it makes sense for us to keep as much in house as possible. We think that maintaining quality is an essential element to each client’s brand, and convince them that this is an important and cost effective in the log run. To this day, the only thing we don’t do in house is printing, as our studio can’t quite fit a press!