Robert Hazelrigg’s journey from Brookdale Community College to becoming a successful graphic designer is a true testament to following one’s passion and staying committed to continuous learning and innovation.
His story begins at Brookdale Community College in 1988, where he first pursued an architecture degree encouraged by his father, who ran an architectural business. However, Hazelrigg’s true passion lay elsewhere, and it was during a graphic design class, taken just for fun, that he discovered his calling. His unique blend of artistic talent, humor, and a knack for technology made him stand out in class, catching the eye of his professor, Daniel Schroll.
After two years at Brookdale, Hazelrigg transferred to Rutgers University to continue his studies in graphic design and programming. The late 1980s and early 1990s marked the desktop publishing revolution, aligning perfectly with Hazelrigg’s interests. His dedication and innovation at Rutgers led him to create custom scripts for design applications, earning him a job offer from Connors Publishing even before graduating.
At Connors Publishing, Hazelrigg’s ability to automate processes and his design talents allowed him to climb the ranks rapidly. When the publishing company decided to sell off its division, Hazelrigg transitioned to working at ad agencies, further diversifying his skill set. His adaptability and commitment to excellence shone through as he worked for companies in various industries, including real estate and medical education.
In 2008, Hazelrigg decided to take a leap of faith and venture into freelance work as a graphic designer. His portfolio began to include impressive projects for clients ranging from local businesses to major corporations like Citibank. He designed a 90-page quarterly newsletter for Citibank, distributed worldwide in multiple languages. His journey has been marked by his relentless pursuit of excellence and staying ahead of industry trends.
His portfolio is large and comprises of three memorable designs. One became a staple in every household’s medicine cabinet, another achieved viral fame, and the third, even after two decades, remains an indispensable fixture for hotdog vendors on the streets of New York City.
Hazelrigg’s humor came through as he created a viral meme featuring Chris Christie, inspired by the sight of the former governor cheering for the Cowboys at a Giants game. The meme quickly gained widespread attention, prompting a call from the Trentonian newspaper, which sought permission to use it. With an enthusiastic nod, Hazelrigg granted consent, propelling the image onto the national stage. It swiftly propagated across the internet, reaching over 200 websites, including ESPN and the NFL network.
Another of Hazelrigg’s creative endeavors extended to designing a Band-Aid box. This project endured an 18-month journey through the meticulous approvals process at Johnson & Johnson before finally gracing store shelves across North America.
While serving as the creative director at Foxtons (formerly known as Your Home Direct and later rebranded as YHD Foxtons), Hazelrigg masterminded diverse advertising and marketing initiatives with a generous $13 million budget. These initiatives spanned newspaper ads to unconventional guerrilla marketing tactics. His accolades included posters he designed showing up in the film “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (with Jim Carrey) and the remarkable guerrilla marketing campaign that involved hotdog cart umbrellas—a campaign that showed up in the popular HBO series “Sex and the City” and remains a fixture on the city streets.
What sets Hazelrigg apart is his commitment to continuous learning and innovation. He has cultivated long-standing relationships with industry giants like Apple and Adobe, even becoming a beta tester for Adobe products. This unique connection has enabled him to stay at the forefront of technological advancements.
As we delve deeper into Hazelrigg’s career, we discover an intriguing chapter where he transitioned from traditional graphic design to embracing the digital age and even ventured into artificial intelligence. It all began with a freelance project for Sims Corporation, a clothing store chain, around 2006. His client introduced him to a then-emerging platform called Facebook, suggesting they experiment with coupons. Skeptical at first, Hazelrigg gave it a shot, and it turned out to be a resounding success, with 50% of coupons coming from Facebook.
This experience opened his eyes to the potential of social media and digital marketing. Hazelrigg began using Facebook for his projects and quickly gained a substantial following. By 2010, he had amassed 17,000 followers and was teaching others about social media. His expertise led to speaking engagements and an exciting journey into the rapidly evolving world of digital marketing.
However, Hazelrigg’s story also touches on the challenges and uncertainties of the graphic design industry. He acknowledges the impact of AI (Artificial Intelligence) on his field, understanding that technology constantly reshapes the creative landscape. Despite his worries, he recognized the importance of staying current with technology and trends to remain relevant.
One of Hazelrigg’s key pieces of advice for aspiring graphic designers is to embrace new technology and adapt to changes in media consumption. He highlights the importance of understanding consumer behavior and the evolving language of AI in marketing. His career trajectory from traditional graphic design to social media and AI integration is an inspiring example of how creatives can thrive by embracing change and continuous learning.
Hazelrigg’s journey from community college to becoming a renowned graphic designer is a testament to the power of discovering one’s passion and staying committed to continuous learning and innovation. His path may not have been conventional, but it is a testament to the idea that following your interests and staying open to new opportunities can lead to incredible success.
Reflecting on Hazelrigg’s career, we see a dynamic professional who has adapted to changing technologies and market trends. His involvement in networking groups has been pivotal in growing his client base and referrals, emphasizing the importance of building and maintaining relationships in the industry.
Hazelrigg’s approach to design is pragmatic yet creative. He values honesty with clients and focuses on graphic design and art direction, finding his niche between being a graphic artist and a graphic designer. His commitment to delivering quality work that aligns with his clients’ needs and budgets sets him apart in the industry.
If any students or employees are interested in joining a local Business networking group, Friday mornings 7 a.m.- 8:30 a.m. at Monmouth University, in West Long Branch, please contact Robert Hazelrigg The Graphics Guy LLC at 732-513-6807, rHazelriggg@gmail.com.