Creative License: Jesse Hayes, Top-Notch Design Man, Husband and Dad

The unofficial leader of the unofficial Creative Class of Martha's Vineyard.


With a long list of the island's most established, interesting, influential and soon-to-be influential businesses on his docket, Jesse Hayes is making his presense known. Don't miss out on meeting Jesse. He's arguably in a stratum all his own.

Meet Jesse ...


MV Patch: Where did you grow up and how long have you been here?

Wow, really starting at the beginning.  I grew up all over the East Coast and my wife and I lived in Minneapolis for a time.  But we were living right outside of Cambridge, Ma. before moving to Martha's Vineyard about 2 1/2 years ago.


What drove your interest and enthusiasm for graphic and web design?

I am truly an accidental designer.  I happened into it about 11 years ago ... something like that, I don't really keep track, but I was working in the music industry and I found myself doing an album cover, basically because their wasn't anyone else to do it.  Well a lot of people saw that record and a lot of people liked it.  All of a sudden I found myself with another sideline and over time it became a study as well.  I would connect with designers whose work I admired and just essentially [stand] over their shoulders, trying to learn from the best the same way I had with music.  It was a lot of on the job training.

So I was doing work for non-profits, law firms, colleges, all kinds of things.  By the time I got commissioned to create the identity for a new NASCAR racing team, I realized I must be a graphic design.  That was about the time I began to expand my firm (Hayes Design Studios) as well.


Can you tell us more about Hayes Design Studio?

Sure, Hayes Design Studios is what came out of the above, a totally full-service design firm.  We cover Graphic Design, Corporate Identity, Web, Photography and Consultation, all at the highest level possible.  I still handle a lot of the work myself but there are areas that are better served by having another perspective, experience, skill set, et cetera, and we're stronger together than apart.  I have known all of my  partners for years and many of them came out of the music industry in some fashion or another.  They are all incredibly gifted and passionate about the work we do and we have a level of trust in each other that allows us to get the job done without any ego ... which is the only way to create.  

Nothing leaves the office with out passing by our consulting director; my wife and business partner Arielle Hayes and she's the reason we never have creative blocks, she's a constant stream of knowledge and ideas.

My main developer Erica is beyond committed in her attention to detail and stays on top of all of the latest web developments.  Her wife is an inspiring mixed media artist who we get to collaborate with on occasion.  My secondary developers; The Apollos' (another husband and wife team) are based out of the Netherlands. They handle development for our European clients and innovate with every project.       

My two go-to photographers Steve Parke and Ingrid Chavez are two of my heroes whose work is beyond description, just check out a sample on our website (www.hayesdesignstudios.com)

I am so grateful that I get to collaborate with these people every day, I genuinely love them and their work.


Have you always fancied yourself creative?

I guess... although not in a really conscious way.  It's just always something that I've done.  As I said, my wife and I worked in the music industry for years as writers/musicians and I spent several years as a music journalist for a respected roots music magazine, but I've always created visuals as far back as I can remember.


What are your goals for your work, where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years ... hmm... like I said, I don't really track time like that.  I have two young boys and there is so much to enjoy watching them everyday.  I don't want to jump five years in my mind. I am also so excited about the clients Hayes Design Studios is working with right now.  Our goal is to provide our clients with the most focused and personalized attention possible, giving them not just what they want but what is going to serve them.  I'm not going to talk a client into a $20,000.00 website if it's not going to be cost effective for their business, but for some they'll make that money right back. So there are no formulas.  

I think of working my team the way Miles Davis used to work his bands.  Everyone is there for a reason, everyone brings an important sound to the music.  My job is to give my team room to stretch out when they need to and to tighten it up it's needed.  I provide a focus and bring a sound to the music as well.  And like Miles Davis, I want to keep evolving, I don't want to get stuck in a niche.  It doesn't serve my clients if people to look at my work and recognize it stylistically as Hayes Design Studios, it should look like the clients!  I just want people to dig it.     


What inspires you most about living on the Vineyard and how does it affect your work?

Oh, everything!  That's why we moved here.  We really like to experience the whole island and we spend as much time in Chilmark and Aquinnah as we do in Edgartown or Oak Bluffs.  Let's face it, it's beautiful here all year round.  For one, It's got the classic New England thing with stone walls and historic saltboxes, stunning farm land and of course amazing beaches and wildlife.  Hayes Design Studios is on instagram and I am always snapping shots around the island when coming and going from client meetings.

A good meal with good friends is a great source of inspiration for me.  And you can't beat Martha's Vineyard, whether it's the comfort of fish and chips by fireside at Newes from America, in the winter or the excitement of a life changing meal from our friend's Ben and Sarah Deforest at Red Cat Kitchen in the summer, or fresh baked pizza outdoors from Juli Vanderhoop's Orange Peel Bakery.  There's something about the energy of those environments, too ... and really that sense of community. That's a big thing for me.

The island is such a close knit community and it can be wonderful. Most people here really understand how much we influence one another and try to be a positive force, or at least just be friendly.  It all helps, A happy designer is a good designer.


What are your current projects and of what are you most proud?

Again, everything. I am really pleased with the work we are doing at Hayes Design Studios, right now.  Tonight was the kick-off celebration for the new website at Oak Bluffs Public Library, the culmination of months and months of work we've done with the library's truly visionary director Sondra Murphy.  It wasn't just the website, we were defining the identity of a library that is so pivotal in the community but had never been giving it's own voice.  We articulated their mission, created a refined brand and designed signage and decor that help the building reflect the personality of the community it serves and the great folks that work and volunteer there.

I'm always excited about the on-going work I do with Island Grown.  Currently we're focused on the Noli Taylor spearheaded Harvest of the Month program which again brings community together in a beautiful way, connecting island farms with schools and local restaurants and grocers.  I'm working with a great illustrator Ashley Chase on the materials for that.

And I had a meeting with another island agriculture organization today that I can't wait to share, once it gets rolling.


Tough question - What three artists, musicians, brands, et ceterainspire your work the most? 

I won't do it ... I can't name just three.  There is constantly music playing at Hayes Design Studios, lots of Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, Prince and Chris Whitley but you could hear pretty much anything depending on the day.  Plus we've got guitars and things laying around every corner so often a visitor or myself will just pick something up and we'll create our own background music. 

For visual things, I love poking through the Library of Congress image archive and I love old Blue Note album covers by designer Reid Miles.  My wife also exposed me to painters like Georgia O'Keefe and Frida Kalo and sometimes those influences pop up in my work in subtle ways.  And there's nothing like getting a painting from one of my boys during the day!

Writers and Poets like Charles Baudelaire and Nikki Giovanni from a more abstract standpoint ... Dick Proenneke too, he was like Thoreau only much less preachy.  He wrote "Alone in the Wilderness," about going deep into Alaska and building his own cabin where he lived for 30 some years (when he was in his 50's mind you).  I dig the off the grid vibe and all that but what really inspires me about him was how well he did everything. I think he was pretty laid back but he was a hard worker and he genuinely cared about creating something of quality, something that looked good, worked well and would last.  

That's what it's about for me. If you play the triangle but you are passionate about it and your committed to figuring out just how beautiful you can make that triangle sound.  That's inspirational.

Meg Manion Silliker February 02, 2013 at 02:50 PM
Jesse is so talented - he designed my business logo and I can't tell you how that has set me off on a path of creativity I only dreamed of. what a pleasure to work with!!!
Jeanne MM Wallace February 02, 2013 at 03:05 PM
Island growin! I admire what Jesse does professionally, as well as personally. Happy in life and in living. If that's not Island, I don't know what else is. Here's to continued success in every facet.
Patti Roads February 02, 2013 at 08:04 PM
Jesse is like no other. He and I have collaborated on several projects together and I'm always in awe of his talents and originality. He also designed my business logo and it makes me proud and truly speaks to who I am and what I was going for. (you can check it out at www.pattiroads.com) Jesse emits a professionalism that is beyond warm and inviting - how amazing is that?! Great to work with, for, and around. Thanks for all you do, Jesse!!
Oli February 05, 2013 at 07:56 PM
Jesse Hayes has played an invaluable role in helping me to shape, create and maintain my brand. His work is always first class, and I feel fortunate to have the benefit of his expertise in what I do!! I can't recommend Hayes Design Studio highly enough.


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