If you’ve shuffled through Spotify’s RapCaviar playlist or perused the app’s recap of your year in music, you’re already familiar with the vibrant work of Erik Herrström. As the former Brand Design Director at Spotify, Herrström spearheaded design for everything from brand identity projects and campaigns to interactive experiences, installations, and photo shoots. After a decade of working in New York City, Herrström is now an independent designer and art director living in Vienna, Austria.

Born in Sweden, Herrström got his start experimenting with interactive designs and building websites for small businesses during his teenage years—developing the practical skills that eventually helped land his first full-time design job. Herrström’s background in interactive design lends his work a sense of dynamism, bringing immersive, interactive experiences to life. Herrström’s body of work is diverse, ranging from redesigning digital ecosystems and creating an installation in the NYC subway system to crafting brand identities for emerging artists. 

Before Spotify, Herrström worked at renowned agencies such as R/GA and Stink Studios in New York City. There, he created designs for Nike, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb, Youtube and Coca-Cola, winning over one hundred industry awards and receiving write ups from the likes of Fast Company, Creative Review, Billboard and Wired. From his homebase in Vienna, Herrström continues to drive culture and design forward with his vivid, hyper-saturated aesthetic.

You can check out their latest projects on Creatively here.

Meet award-winning design director, Erik Herrström.

What is the first creative project you remember? 

Playdough creations in kindergarten. Apparently, I intentionally destroyed them on the car ride home from school that day. It seems I wasn’t too precious about my art from an early age. 

Describe your aesthetic in three words. 

Bold. Colorful. Systematic. 

Herrström’s colorful identity system developed for Spotify’s New Music Friday.

What was the most fulfilling collaboration you’ve worked on? 

That would have to be the Spotify Wrapped campaign we created in 2018. It was a huge internal team effort at Spotify together with our external partners. Our goal was to use all 30 colors present in the Spotify color palette in this one campaign. We also used live image color analyses of artists’ images and artworks to define the color schemes. Every listener’s summary was therefore unique, not only in content, but also in imagery. 

For 2018 year’s campaign Herrström defined the design system and early on pitched the idea of live image color analyzation to define color schemes. Produced in 2018 at Spotify, New York. Full credits on erikherrstrom.com.

What’s one creative project that taught you something fundamental about yourself? 

The massive David Bowie installation Spotify created for the Broadway-Lafayette subway station in SoHo, New York. After years of living in the city and using the subway system every day, it was special to be part of creating something unique there. We used unexpected ad placements to fully transform the station, decorating it in ways I never thought were possible: staircases, beams in the ceiling, and even Metrocards became our canvases. It was a bit surreal and made me understand that anything is possible when the right ideas are there. I led the design of this project and am still in awe of the innovative ideas the creative team came up with.

Herrström’s work on ‘David Bowie is Here’ took over all of the Broadway-Lafayette subway station, featuring over 40 unique pieces about the music icon’s life in the neighborhood and New York City.

Do you think creativity is something you’re born with, or something you’re taught? 

All humans are creative in their own ways, but at the end of the day, it may come down to how our society defines creativity.

What’s the last dream you had?

My dreams have mostly been about traveling lately. Last night, I dreamt I was on a road trip in Tuscany. I suppose I’m looking forward to some trips in real life when it’s safe to do so again. 

One hundred years from now, what do you hope people write about your work?

I hope my career will have helped drive culture and design forward. Hopefully, some of my work can serve as references for someone in the future.

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