About Tad Hanna
have been working in the graphic design world, on and off, since
1978, when I got my first typesetting job in a small print shop
in Gainesville, Florida. I created resumes for students on a fascinating
machine called the IBM Compositor, then pasted them down with rubber
Several jobs later, I was the typesetter in a small, high-quality
graphic design firm in Providence, Rhode Island, where my projects
included typesetting all the museum catalogs for the Rhode Island
School of Design (RISD) Art Museum, and extensive work for Brown
University and RISD. This was prior to the advent of the wonderful
Macintosh, and all typesetting was done on expensive, dedicated
typesetting machines which were most definitely not WYSIWYG!
Through typesetting the Brown admissions booklet I became interested
in attending Brown, and in 1985 I was admitted as a Resumed Undergraduate
Education student with a full scholarship. I attended Brown for
four years and graduated in 1988 with a B.A. in Cognitive Science
focusing on neural networks, and a GPA of 3.67.
Following college, I worked in Silicon Valley for several high-tech
companies, including Oracle, Adobe, and Adaptec, in various capacities
including multimedia developer, Authorware developer, training coordinator,
reports programmer, technical support specialist, and technical
document manager. In 1991 I moved to Colorado where I worked at
Quark, Inc. for 3 years, doing telephone and online technical support,
and coordinating beta testing for the first version of QuarkXPress
for Windows. I learned an enormous amount at Quark about photography,
scanning, pre-press and print production.
Later, I worked as an Authorware developer, training coordinator,
graphic artist, and marketing manager for Director plug-ins, at
Media Lab in Louisville (sadly no longer in existence, swallowed
up by Match Logic). That was a fun job with a lot of challenges
and great people, but I was nevertheless laid off during a lull
in work volume. During the following period of self-employment,
I taught myself web design, and began the first incarnation of Magic
Tortoise Graphics. But the volume of clients did not appear, and
in 1998 I took a web developer job at Global Commerce Systems, marrying
front-end web interfaces to GCS's backend systems, for clients such
as Sprint, TSYS, and General Electric.
As Global Commerce Systems grew, a true Creative Services Department
was added, and eventually I became Manager of Web Development within
the 12-person Creative Services group, managing a small group of
talented front-end developers. The Creative Services group created
web application interfaces, product simulations and sales support
demos. I had been with Global Commerce for almost three years, and
seen the company expand from 35 to 300 employees, when the layoffs
Since then, I've been working as a freelance graphic designer and
production artist, and enjoying it immensely!
My background in Cognitive Science is very helpful in graphic design
understanding how people take in visual and verbal information
and process it in their nervous system helps me maintain the discipline
necessary to keep designs simple and focused. Cluttered and over-complicated
design creates a fluctuating and unstable "energy landscape"
(neural network state) in the nervous system, which lacks the potency
to change neuron firing rates, and thus is an ineffective means
to deliver a message. Well, that's my theory anyway! Interestingly,
many traditional dictates of graphic design (maintain a single focus,
less is more, Bauhaus principles) are beautifully resonant with
the findings of cognitive science research.
I feel it's well worth taking the time at the beginning of a project
to have a thorough discussion of your business focus and goals,
to ensure I really understand where you are at and what you need
for your enterprise to thrive. A few maxims I strive to live by:
"Measure twice, cut once." Old carpenter's
""It is precisely at the beginning that serious
concentration is important, for the beginning holds the seed of
all that is to follow."
I Ching, Hexagram 30: The Clinging, Fire