April 8, 2013
Blaisdell ’05 Bridges the Gap Between Art and the Sciences
As an artist, Hugh Blaisdell '05 likes a challenge.
The senior art director of New York-based global health care marketing agency Harrison and Star, Blaisdell is responsible for creating and evolving health care brands in both digital and print mediums. His day-to-day work ranges from designing applications for smartphones and tablets to high-level conceptual thinking-the latter a component of the job Blaisdell finds the most engaging.
"Being an art director in health care is tough but interesting," he said. "Since you can't just show a pill on your ad, you have to think in metaphors. I once had to Photoshop together a picture of a phoenix breaking out of a birdcage made of metal DNA strands."
His position at Harrison and Star wasn't Blaisdell's first foray into designing for the health care sector. After graduating from Emmanuel, his first job was as a graphic designer for Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where he designed print materials and signage for campaigns in and outside the hospital, created and maintained multiple web and Flash projects, served as a director for photo shoots, and once, performed surgery on a robot in the hospital's practice operating room.
Art direction and graphic design positions at Kallir Phillips Ross, Inc. and Saatchi & Saatchi Health Communications followed, further fostering his ability to create meaningful visual concepts for the medical and pharmaceutical fields.
Blaisdell has always been drawn to the arts, but it was his high school art teacher, Deborah Haverty, a 1977 Emmanuel graduate, that helped him focus on his goal of becoming a designer, recognizing his artistic strengths and pushing him through tough assignments and extracurricular projects. When it came time to choose a college, Blaisdell followed in Haverty's footsteps and selected Emmanuel due to its smaller class sizes and faculty with more time for their students.
"Emmanuel's design classes taught me the right tools to get a job," he said. "It was also good to be part of the Colleges of the Fenway so I could take more advanced typography and design courses at Massachusetts College of Art and Design."
Blaisdell also credited Emmanuel's liberal arts education and internship opportunities for the breadth of experiences it brought to his professional life-the writing classes helped his work with copywriters and the public speaking classes prepared him to give presentations.
"To be a good designer or art director, you need as much experience as possible," he said. "Emmanuel set me up with four internships--at Know your Boston magazine, CB Design, The Daily Jolt, and The Massachusetts Teachers Association. I kept the last internship as a client for three years after graduating."
When he's not working, Blaisdell likes to travel to places like Scandinavia, Peru, Thailand and Prague, just to name a few.
"It's good to step outside of what's comfortable and expose yourself to foreign patterns and color schemes," he said. "I find this recharges my creative batteries."