Q&A with Artist Jud Haynes

Jud Haynes’ completed piece for Memorial University’s new Signal Hill Campus.

If you’re familiar with the Newfoundland and Labrador arts scene, you likely know the name Jud Haynes. A man of many talents – graphic designer, illustrator, print maker and musician – the St. John’s resident has been keeping busy making eye-catching and thoughtful art that’s captured attention both at home and abroad. He has created everything from album art, book covers, posters, websites and branding and has worked with plenty of household names – everyone from astronaut Chris Hadfield to comedian, actress and writer Mary Walsh, to name just a few.

If you’ve visited Memorial University’s new Signal Hill Campus, you’ve likely spotted Haynes’ latest piece, which accompanies Business & Arts NL’s newest public piano (also sponsored by Memorial) at the Emera Innovation Exchange. (To find out more about our #ComePlayWithMe! public piano program, click here.) With bold colours and iconic images inspired by the surrounding neighbourhood, the piece helps tell the story of this place while reflecting the values of innovation, collaboration and partnership that the new facility embraces.

We recently chatted with Haynes about his work, process and how his latest project came together.

Process photo.

Business & Arts NL: You’re quite well known in the local arts scene and have done some awesome work for a pretty impressive list of clients: Chris Hadfield, Mary Walsh, the National Arts Centre, Blue Rodeo and many, many more. Have you always been interested in working in graphic design and illustration?

Jud Haynes: I was a lucky kid, I decided when I was in grade 10 that I wanted to be a graphic designer. So many people spend years trying to figure out what they want to do for a living — I am still pretty mind blown when I look back and see that I’m still doing what I chose so young.

Business & Arts NL: What drew you to this particular project for the new Signal Hill Campus?

JH: I’ve been a huge fan of that building my whole life – I used to eat in the restaurant, stayed in a couple of the rooms when it was a hotel, and even threw back a few pints at the hotel bar back in the day. I’ve been excited to see how the building would be repurposed ever since I first heard MUN was the new owner. When I was first approached to create something for the launch of the new campus I was immediately intrigued, but once I had a tour of the new facility, that’s when my interest hit peak excitement.

The staircase that inspired part of Haynes’ piece.

Business & Arts NL: There’s certainly lots of inspiration on and around Signal Hill! Did the idea for the overall design of this piece come fairly easily to you, or did you have to ponder on what particular elements to include?

JH: I came up with a pretty long list to draw, then the folks I was working with at the Signal Hill Campus came up with many additions. The rose hips for instance were an addition I hadn’t thought of, but they add so much to the overall piece. In the end we did have to pare down the list a lot as there was only so much room, even on a large wall. Finding the right balance to make sure the overall piece didn’t look cluttered took some time.

Business & Arts NL: You mentioned that you first settled on a colour palette, incorporating colours from Memorial’s logo and the furniture in that section of the building. Were there any other possibilities that you considered?

JH: Not at all – before I even started drawing I knew what colours I was going to work with. The red and grey from MUN’s logo, combined with a punch of gold/yellow taken from the oversized couch that shares the space with our wall and piano. The darker grey colour was introduced to bring forward the tones of the massive concrete staircase featured in the heart of the building – I took photos of the staircase and also included its shapes in my illustration.

Business & Arts NL: How close is the final illustration to your original idea? Did it change much over the course of the creative process?

JH: The final illustration looks exactly as I had initially pictured it as far as style goes. Other than the depiction of the Signal Hill Campus building, all the other elements came along organically. I was extra excited when I received word back from the team at Signal Hill Campus that they loved the first version and didn’t have any changes — see, while I was the one creating the illustration, I wanted to make sure everyone involved was 100% happy and was more than willing to make changes if the team wanted to see anything different. It was passed around and after a couple days I heard that everyone was happy with it, just the way it was, so what you see on the wall is exactly how it was created. A very fun project for me and the response has been amazing. I want to thank everyone involved and hope the mural will be around for years to come.