One year on with 2018 Emerging Designer, Hazel Lam

In the lead up to the 67th ABDA Awards, we check in with Hazel Lam, recipient of the Emerging Designer award from 2018. Hazel shares how the award has changed her career progression and creative direction, as well as her thoughts on a future in book design.

What were the highlights from your year as emerging designer?

I’ve had a pretty great year! I actually won a fellowship from Harpercollins as well which took me to Berlin to attend the annual TYPO conference and London to meet some of my favorite book designers. I got to fangirl a bit and snoop around the studios of Jon Gray, Jamie Keenan and David Pearson. It was a highly inspiring trip and I came back with a brain bursting with creative energy, itching to work.

I’ve ridden the high of The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart all year; it was super fantastic to see a book we all poured our heart and soul into doing so well commercially. That project has brought me ridiculous amounts of joy and a giant sense of satisfaction that I hadn’t experienced before. I loved seeing the cover design adapted by different publishers around the world and being able to attend the ABIAs and watching Holly win General Fiction of the Year was a giant highlight that gave me infinite warm fuzzies.

How did you chose to spend your prize money?

I actually used it for a combination of things.I spent some of it to buy an iPad Pro—which sounds boring—but it has really changed the way I create. It has opened up a world of possibilities. I’ve been quietly practising, it is super exciting and makes me feel like I have more control with my illustration work which will hopefully inform my cover design in the future.

I’ve used some of it to do a whole heap of creative things, one of which was a scientific botanical illustration course a the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney. I like doing things outside of my usual day-to-day to draw inspiration back to my general design work. It was fascinating and super zen. I gained some new illustration skills and met some interesting people. It also brings me one step closer to being a botanical book designer exclusively (joking, but also not joking if anyone needs one!).

Have you had any career progression in the last year?

 I was promoted to Senior Book Designer at HarperCollins, which gave me a few more opportunities at work to do more interesting things. One of which was art directing my first book, His Name Was Walter, which was both thrilling yet terrifying. Letting go of the design reigns and seeing what happens but luckily I got to work with the ultra-talented Jess Cruickshank who turns every little idea into magic.

Do you have any further thoughts on whether book design will change much over the next 10-20-30 years? Will you still be designing books?

I think regardless of the form a narrative will always need to be represented visually so I am sure I will still be designing books in the next 10-20-30 years. Who knows if it will be a few hundred pages bound together or perhaps it will be a holographic projection in an immersive 10D virtual reality space on Mars (not a thing yet, but maybe it will be). Anything is possible and  I am pretty excited to see where it goes.

As the winner of this award, you were given the opportunity to design the catalogue for this years awards. Without giving too much away, can you give us a hint to what we can expect to see this year?

Designing the catalogue was super fun. As part of the ABDA x Jacky Winter partnership, Jess Cruickshank came on board to illustrate the endpapers; I was lucky enough to have her help me realise my idea. I LOVE food and I try to sneak it into my work at every opportunity, so all I have to say is that the catalogue is deliciously decadent this year.

The 2019 winner of the Emerging Designer award will be announced at the ABDA Awards on the 31st of May, 2019.