Posted in Theory

Interview with David Airey


David Airey is a very successful brand identity designer and blog writer of and His sites attract 250,000 online visitors and approximately 1 million page views per month. David recently published his first book Logo Design Love, a guide to creating iconic brand identities. The book is a great compilation of practical advice and real-life anecdotes, combined with FAQ’s and identity examples. We are very happy that he has taken his time to share some insight into his life and work.


So tell us, David, describe a typical day in your world?

I’ll normally wake depending on the time my wife starts work. 06:30-07:30. We’ll have breakfast together and when she leaves I’ll begin my 10-metre commute.

The inbox comes first. It’s mainly filled with blog comments, student questions, and unwanted press releases, but I skip those until I’ve replied to client emails.

My working day’s a mix of email, design work, and blog updating. The percentages vary depending on how many active clients I have (they’ll always take priority).

I’ll finish work around 17:00 or 18:00, but with working from home there’s always that temptation to keep my inbox open. Sometimes it’s 22:00 before I close it.

Time away from work revolves around movies, exercise, walks, meals, drinks, and whatever TV series my wife and I are into.


Irish by birth, you have lived in Scotland since you were a teenager – I have noticed quite a few designers working from Scotland lately, do you think it’s becoming a hot spot for design?

There’s great design talent in Scotland. Everywhere in the UK and Ireland you’ll find excellent designers. Looking at Scotland in particular: (small Glasgow studio, smart identity work) (larger Edinburgh design agency, great people)


Where and how do you best find inspiration? And what has been the biggest influence to become a brand identity designer?

I don’t know if it’s specifically a source of inspiration, but the life into which I was born is a huge motivator when it comes to “getting things done.” I need only watch the news to see how different my circumstances could’ve been, perhaps born into a life of poverty, or passed from foster home to foster home. That’s the unfair luck of life’s draw. And I got lucky.

As for any influence on my specialty, I think it’s because every brand needs an identity, so even though you might view identity design as a niche, it’s one that every company in every industry needs. You could say my choice was a combination of wanting to specialise without posing too many limitations.


What are you working on at the moment – and what are your plans for the future?

I currently have one active client. It’s a communication start-up in the US with a small but greatly talented team spread into Europe. I can’t say anything about the service at this time, but everyone involved has a lot of hope in it’s success. I’m excited.

The two most recent project completions include a new identity for the Asian Development Bank’s annual meeting, and the identity for a new organic tequila brand in California. Images for those in my portfolio soon.


Where do you think the trends are going? What’s hot and what’s not for 2011/12?

I wouldn’t call it a trend in the “here today, gone tomorrow” fashion sense, but more and more identities feature highly flexible designs, i.e., a brand-mark with multiple variations, or an identity element that allows the brand to be known even when the logo isn’t seen. One of the most effective ways to achieve this flexibility is by crafting a company-specific typeface for the client’s sole use. Miles Newlyn is a designer doing this to great effect.


How long do you typically spend working on a brand identity? What factors contribute to how long it takes?

Projects vary from three weeks to six months, but on average I’d say it’s six weeks. Contributing factors include the specific project deliverables, and perhaps more importantly, the time a client needs to send feedback and ultimately achieve committee consensus.


In your opinion, what makes someone a good identity designer?

Curiosity. It’s the same for any designer, regardless of speciality. If you’re curious about the client, about the product or service, and the industry in question, you’ll uncover exactly what’s needed to fulfil the brief.


And lastly, who would you least want to be stuck in a lift with?

Carlos Tevez.



Thanks very much for deeming me worthy of a feature, Jenny.

David Airey

Thanks for the mention David, very kind of you and means a lot coming from yourself.

Greig Anderson

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