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Learning from Alexander Isley
Alexander Isley
Design has a tendency to touch every aspect of our lives, and this ubiquitous nature that design has, can get anyone thinking about where all this started, who initiated the first push? 
To answer this there are many names that one can cite, but today our focus is on one inimitable graphic designer from Durham, North Carolina. 
Alexander Isley, one of the few pioneering designers globally, has had a significant hand in bringing design to where it is today.

Who is Alexander Isley?
Alexander Isley is a renowned American graphic designer and educator. His passion for typography, identity, and environmental design and a strong sense of aesthetics made an indelible mark in the field.

Isley is primarily known for his work in corporate identity, packaging, and publication design, an otherwise dry landscape into which he infused a sense of personality and almost genuine emotion.
Alexander Isley
Learn more about Alexander Isley here.
A little about how Isley began his journey and how it shaped him:

Senior Designer at M&Co.:

Isley’s journey began in the ’80s when he began working with Tibor Kalman, as a senior designer at M & Co. The most valuable learning he took from Tibor was how to present designs to clients.

Alexander believes that a designer’s biggest mistake is spending plenty of hours working on a design and just putting it up in front of the client and asking for their thoughts without actually explaining the “why” behind their ideas. Working under Kalman taught him the need to illustrate the design decisions taken to the client, to make them see how they reached a particular outcome.


Art Director at SPY Magazine:

After a few years, Isley went on to become the art director of SPY Magazine, one of the most influential magazines in the ’80s. It is believed to have reformed the entire tone of magazine journalism. Isley brought his unique style into the magazine with nonconventional typography, imagery, colour palette and page layouts.


Alexander Isley Inc:

After fulfilling his dream job at SPY, Isley founded Alexander Isley Inc. It’s a design firm that works with various other companies to help them build a brand identity, a voice and communicate their message to people through their impeccable taste in design.
What can one learn from Alexander Isley?
Apart from the fact that Isley has been an influential figure in design space and his fantastic journey in building his own brand through the decades, let’s take a moment to focus on his learnings that can inspire a designer:

  1. Isley believes that a designer should decide what a design should do before thinking about what it should look like.

  2. A designer can do a better job if she actually takes the time to know more about a client’s business.

  3. A designer must effectively communicate her designs and explain the series of choices and decisions made to reach the design being presented.

  4. A designer must align every stakeholder onto the same path and make them understand that design is not just decoration but a sequence of logical and thoughtful steps. The secret lies in taking the mystery out of the process.

  5. It takes a whole lot of effort to make something seem effortless. When your product is designed to help users, and they don’t even know it, you know you did a good job.
Alexander never stuck to just one design form and didn’t let the monotony get to him. He used his talent to pivot from one thing to another. This is something that a designer can learn from.

Alexander has been a great source of inspiration for the design community and has done his share to push the industry forward, although it’s still a work-in-progress.
Designers can draw inspiration from pretty much anywhere if only they look for it.
about the article
This article is first published on UXDesign CC. Read the original post here.

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