Photo by Casey Myers

Northcoast Zeitgeist is the studio of Joseph Hughes, a graphic designer, writer, creative thinker and community builder. I've got my heart on my sleeve and a spring in my step. I'm trying hard to leave things better than I found them.

I'm a designer by trade and a writer by education, and I have a firm belief that pride in your craft and a respect for what you do make all the difference. I have more than ten years of experience, the hustle to match, am a self-starter who pursues passion projects and I care deeply about the work I do.

I get excited by a lot of things, but I've been especially inspired lately by the creativity and craft found in everyday objects. Old packaging. Vintage instruction manuals. Old color combinations and paper textures. Shop machinery. Industrial logos. Thick lines. Weathered signage. Hand lettering. Thrift store finds. Functional pieces designed by anonymous craftspeople nowhere near the big time, but who toiled away in obscurity and still had the pride to put those memorable flourishes in their work.

I'm joined in this adventure by my wife Casey, who recently earned her doctorate, our cat, Bea Arthur, who, despite being adorable, would eat us if she were big enough and our pooch, Quigley, who loves naps and hates our mailman.

Before I'm finished, I'd like to:

Craft a restaurant identity. Design a book cover. Write another magazine cover story. Design the cover of that same magazine. Design the whole magazine. Speak at more conferences. Help other conference organizers improve speaker diversity. Organize a conference at the confluence of design and progressive values. Work at that confluence by designing for more progressive candidates and causes. Design an album cover. Practice more icon design. Design more apparel.

Select clients:

Cleveland Clinic, Giant Eagle, GetGo, Destination Cleveland, Lincoln Electric, RIDGID, First National Bank of Pennsylvania, Cleveland Browns, Kinetico, TCP Lightling, Sherwin-Williams, Moen, The MetroHealth System, Vitamix, DAP, California Paints, Ohio University, Parma Community General Hospital, Shoes and Clothes for Kids, United Way of Greater Cleveland, Epilepsy Association, ADT, Arby’s, DuPont Garden Products, Things Remembered, AAF Cleveland, Weapons of Mass Creation Fest, Cranky Pressman, Taegan Goddard, Wilco, LeCharles Bentley, Kaillie Humphries, Haymaker Farmers' Market, Kent Free Library, Pat Lang for Congress, Zygote Press, HOW, Longshot Magazine, Ferocious Quarterly, Tomorrow Magazine, Shitty Barn Sessions

Select honors:

Work for GetGo's grand openings won one silver ADDY award at the 2016 Cleveland AAF ADDY Show. Named one of Crain's Cleveland Business's Who to Watch in Marketing & Creativity in December 2015. Work for Melamed Riley's Grad School program won three bronze ADDY awards at the 2012 Cleveland AAF ADDY Show. Work for Melamed Riley's Grad School program won two silver ADDY awards at the 2012 AAF District 5 ADDY Awards. Work for The MetroHealth System and DAP won two silver and four bronze ADDY awards at the 2011 Cleveland AAF ADDY Show. Work for The MetroHealth System won two silver ADDY awards at the 2011 AAF District 5 ADDY Awards. Work for The MetroHealth System won a silver, bronze and merit award at the Twenty-Ninth Annual Healthcare Marketing Awards. Work for FMC Professional Solutions won two first place awards at the 2012 TOCA (Turf and Ornamental Communications Association) Awards.


"I can always count on Joseph to deliver dynamic pitches that make our magazine shine. He makes it his job to be at the cutting edge of the design industry. On top of that, he is dependable and his deliverables usually excel my expectations."

– Jessica Kuhn
Former Editor, Print & HOW

"At first I was puzzled as to how Joseph was able to be involved in such a constant dialogue on the internet, given that he's also a functional, friendly, hardworking designer IRL. But then I came to realize that community — both in person and in the digital world — really matters to him. Like, it is a top-tier priority. And once you're in his world, whether it's as a casual pal or a professional collaborator or both (like me), you're there to stay. He'll invest in you and have your back. This is an awesome thing. Joseph Hughes is an awesome guy."

– Ann Friedman
Writer, Editor, Shine Theorist

"Joseph is overflowing with kindness and just the right kind of professionalism (not buttoned up stuffiness, but humanity and humor rolled into a get-it-done attitude). In short, he facilitated one of the best conference speaking experiences I have ever had. I look forward to working with him again! A+, four stars, HUZZAH!"

– Kate Bingaman-Burt
Associate Professor of Graphic Design, Portland State University

"My experience with Joseph has been first class. His ability to transform an idea in to a tangible vision is second-to-none. The most enjoyable aspect of dealing with an artist of his creative genius is that he hasn't lost his touch on customer service. Joseph is a pro in every aspect."

– LeCharles Bentley
LeCharles Bentley O-Line Performance

"Joseph is a person with highly attuned ethics and principles. He has more integrity than most, which makes him an exceptional candidate for speaking and conference planning. As a designer, he works with a prolific speed I've rarely seen, taking the same care with his ideas and files as he does with the people in his life. I'm lucky to call him a friend and supporter."

– Margot Harrington
Pitch Design Union

"Joseph brings a fresh, sharp eye to logo design and is able to create solid, professional visual identities that aptly speak to the mission and value of the organization. I admire his eye for type, and his flexibility and creativity in thinking of ways to do what's not been done before. He's a pleasure to work with."

– David Kerr
David Kerr Design

"Working with Joseph is ruff."

My dog