HM&E learns to expect the unexpected through design process for 'Fire Family' issue of Wayward Arts
Providing opportunities for collaboration, experimentation and creative freedom, Wayward Arts invites design firms to try new things and explore unique ideas. Issue 11 from HM&E Design involved a few surprises, some last-minute decisions, and finished off with a hot design that exceeded expectations.


"When we first learned of Wayward Arts, I immediately called Flash to sign on for an issue," says Paul Haslip RGD, Partner at HM&E Design. "What designer wouldn’t want to work on such a project – complete freedom, the opportunity to make a personal statement, to use new techniques and collaborate with a visionary partners like Flash and our photographer Curtis Lantinga - it's not something we wanted to pass up!" 


The concept for Issue 11 evolved from an exploration of careers serving the community to a more specific look at the close-knit, family culture of a team of Toronto firefighters.



"The idea originated with a friend of ours, a police detective who just recently spent a year in Afghanistan training police officers," explains Paul. "I thought this was a really interesting experience, but practically impossible to document. This led us to reach out to Emergency Responders with the idea to profile women working as police officers, firefighters, and paramedics."


Practical considerations prevented HM&E from moving forward with this initial theme, as access limitations would have prevented the design from including certain visuals important to communicating the concept. The decision to refine the concept to the 'Fire Family' was made after discovering the infectious camaraderie of this group of professionals. 



Rather than nail down the specifics, the design team adopted a more flexible approach to capturing what makes this community so special. "Our approach was really just about jumping in and letting things happen. Riding along with the firefighters was a creative journey - risky but thrilling - and we went in with only a general vision of what the final design might look like, leaving ourselves open to being inspired by the experience."


After collecting the raw material, the next challenge was to balance the storytelling component with the images and the integration of Flash's special printing techniques. 


"We initially shot studio still life images of the firefighters' essential tools and accessories - the gloves, the face mask, flashlights - which we intended to use as secondary imagery. As it turned out, these shots became one of the major visual elements of the piece and provided an opportunity to incorporate a unique and totally appropriate grit varnish that really adds to the reader's experience of the design. I must also give a great deal of credit to our photographer, Curtis Lantinga, who created some beautiful imagery." 




Paul Haslip RGD of HM&E and Rich Pauptit of Flash Reproductions will present an Inspiration Series Webinar on how the shape of the magazine informed the design direction for the project, how specific printing techniques helped bring the concept off the page, and other creative process considerations in the making of 'Fire Family'. Attend From Concept to Reality: Production Considerations for Passion Projects on April 23.

Click here to register for this free event. 



About Wayward Arts
Wayward Arts is a monthly publication printed by Flash Reproductions, with paper provided by Unisource Canada in conjunction with their mill suppliers. A different design firm is invited to curate each issue, changing the design, layout, colours, mood and paper to reflect their interpretation of the year’s over-arching theme.


Copies can be obtained by request at

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