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Interview with Logo Designer David Airey

by Grant Friedman

on June 4, 2009

in Interviews

This week I had the opportunity to interview Irish logo designer David Airey (@davidairey). I have admired David’s work for quite some time and was very pleased that he agreed to be interviewed. In the interview David discusses many issues facing modern logo designers. Check out this interview and feel free to visit his website and follow him on Twitter.

David, thank you so much for participating in this interview. Can you start off by telling us a little about your background? Where are you from? How did you get your start as a graphic artist?

It’s my pleasure, Grant. Thank you for asking me.

I was born in Bangor, Northern Ireland, a small town with a population shy of 100,000 and 12 miles from the capital, Belfast. I landed my first design-based job when I was working in telesales for a newspaper in Scotland. An old university friend of mine was working there too, and she knew I wanted a different job, so when one of her friends told her about a design opening, she put us in touch and so it began.

Just goes to show, you don’t need to be in a design-based job to land another, and you’re always more employable when in employment of any kind.

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You have made quite a name for yourself as a logo designer. Why are you so drawn to branding and identity development?

I love learning. And what I love about identity design is how you work with clients in vastly different industries. An obvious requirement in design projects is to learn as much as possible about the client’s business, so one day I’d be involved with the history of wine producing, and the next I’m dealing with architects.

The diversity is what I enjoy most.

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As designers sometimes we have to be the bearer of bad news. How do you tell a client that their logo is in need of a redesign without being rude or insulting?

I actually don’t need to. My clients find me, so they already know a redesign is called for (if indeed that’s the case, as opposed to a new logo, or a logo refinement).

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Sometimes clients may have unrealistic expectations when they present their logo ideas to a designer. How do you set them on the right track?

It’s a very rare occurrence when a client presents me with a logo idea. After all, isn’t that what I’m being hired to do?

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As you know good design takes time. As designers, we are commonly presented with impossible deadlines. How does a designer realistically balance the need to create a high quality design within a tight deadline?

This is where a solid and realistic start to every project is necessary. If a potential client tells me they need a new logo in a week, I’ll tell them I can’t do it. Saying “no” makes those times when saying “yes” is much more rewarding.

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Lots of designers struggle when faced with the task of creating a logo for themselves. How would you advise a designer who is trying to figure out how to best to brand themself?

Tough question, especially given that I spent the bulk of a year on my own identity design (brainstorming, sketching, finalizing, then scrapping it and returning to the start). Settling on a design that represents you needs to be a very personal thing, so I guess if there’s one tip I can give, it’s to make your identity reflect who you are.

With that said, it’s your client work that sells you, so if in doubt, why not opt for a clean, professional logotype?

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I understand that you are currently working on a book. Can you tell us a little about it? Any idea when it will be released?

Back around Christmas I was approached by US publisher Peachpit Press, asking if I’d author their first book dedicated to logo design. Needless to say I was very flattered, and after a few months ironing out details, I’ve just submitted my first chapter.

The completion date has been set for the end of October, and we’ll hopefully get the book in stores before this Christmas.

The title is “Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities” and the profile of the contributors has been humbling. Some fantastic designers and agencies have come on board to share their design processes.

Again, thanks for asking me to participate in your interview series. All the very best.

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Follow David on Twitter: @davidairey.

Visit David’s websites: davidairey.com and logodesignlove.com.

About Grant Friedman

Grant Friedman is a graphic design, blogger, and author. In addition to being the founder of this website, Grant is also the editor of Psdtuts, one of the world's most popular tutorial websites.