David Airey, a graphic designer from Northern Ireland, has been involved in the creative arts since the 1990s when he enrolled on his first graphic design course. Having honed his skills working in the UK and the United States, he then made a conscious choice to specialise in logo design.
Self-employed since 2005, David has amassed an impressive global client-list, including the likes of Yellow Pages (Canada), Giacom (England), and Berthier Associates (Japan).
He authors two of the most popular graphic design blogs on the internet, Logo Design Love and David Airey, attracting approximately one million monthly page views from around 250,000 monthly visitors.
1. Why do you specialise in designing logos? Wouldn’t there be more opportunities – and variety – in taking on a wider range of design work?
When you consider that every company needs to be identified, and that a logo is an ideal solution, then there are millions of different opportunities in the brand identity niche. One day I’ll be learning about French wine production, the next I’ll be researching orthopaedics, the day after, interior design. The variety is limited only by the scope of my client base, and given that most of my clients are overseas, that’s quite a scope.
2. Who are your biggest inspirations — in the design world and elsewhere?
In the design world I look up to the work of respected agencies like Pentagram, Moonbrand, Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv. I could spend too long reading through Tony Spaeth’s “Identity Works” archives, and I enjoy watching interviews with designers like Stefan Sagmeister and David Carson.
Away from the design world I have a huge respect for my parents. As if I wasn’t fortunate enough being born into a “Western” economy, I was then blessed with a mum and dad who never left me wanting.
3. You run two popular blogs with very active comments sections. You also engaged in other forms of social media. And presumably your clients and running the business also make big demands on your time. How do you find the time and mental space for design work?
You shouldn’t take up design as a profession unless you’re passionate, and when you have a desire to create, you’ll always find the time. Lately, I’ve stopped taking on new clients so I can focus on writing my first book. There are a couple of ongoing design projects to finalise, but they’re almost done, and then I can devote all my time to the book and keeping my blogs updated.
4. Do you engage in any marketing other than your blogs and social networking?
I don’t, which I would’ve thought impossible three years ago. Clients find me either through word-of-mouth, or through one of my blogs, which just goes to highlight the shift in working practices over the past decade. Working from the comfort of my home without a daily commute and battling the traffic is superb. It’d take a very good offer to have me do otherwise.
5. What have been the biggest surprises — positive or negative — you’ve encountered in following your unusual career path?
I don’t know about the “biggest” surprise, but it was unexpected to have a few friends tell me I needed more experience before moving into self-employment. I’m the first to admit I don’t have any long-term agency experience, and I was in a full-time design position for just two years before starting my own business. Four years on and I’ve learned more than I would’ve imagined about design, about business, about online marketing and SEO, and, importantly, about myself.
Another surprise is how many people subscribe to my blogs. It’s humbling, really. So a heart-felt thanks to those folk.
6. What would you say to a creative freelancer who says ‘I’d love to create a wonderful blog like David’s, I can see the benefits, but I just can’t find the time?’.
Building a blog is definitely a commitment, but it’s more of a long-term thing than an intense daily project. You don’t have you publish an article every day. You don’t even have to publish one every week. But you do need to make your content unique, and not simply copy what you see elsewhere.
Think of it as your marketing spend, only you’re not actually spending money, but simply taking time to discuss what you love.