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Graphic Design USA  (
January 2005

People To Watch

Alexander Isley
Alexander Isley received a B.Ed. in environmental design from North Carolina State University and a B.F.A. from The Cooper Union School of Art. He is principal of Alexander Isley Inc., a multidisciplinary design consultancy with offices in Connecticut. His firm’s clients include the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Giorgio Armani, The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, MTV, Texaco and Scholastic. Isley is also a partner, with Dave Goldenberg, in The Dave and Alex Show, a brand development and marketing communication agency that lists AOL, PepsiCo, Nickelodeon and MasterCard among its clients. Prior to founding his own company, Isley was the senior designer at the influential design firm M&Co. and art director of Spy Magazine. His work is in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of Modern Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He was an inaugural member of "The I.D. 40", and has been elected to membership in the Alliance Graphique Internationale. Alex has taught at the School of Visual Arts and The Cooper Union, and has been a visiting lecturer at the Yale Graduate School of Art since 1996. He has written a design commentary column for the marketing website and is a contributor to Folio magazine. He currently serves as president of the New York Chapter of AIGA.



What is your workday like?

My workday is the inverse of that of most designers I know. In many studios, it’s expected that you work until 9:00, 10:00 or 11:00 at night. I prefer to get in early, often around 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning. I get all my good thinking in before the phone starts to ring at 9:00. The “regular” workday consists of putting out little fires here and there, going to meetings, and all the other things that are, well, “work”. (People in the office know not to ask me any complicated questions after 3:00 pm, however.) I go home before 6 to spend time with my family. I guess the main thing that keeps me going with this kind of schedule is that I truly look forward to coming in to the studio every day; I'm excited about the diversity of projects that we get and in the challenges they pose. I’ve never liked board games and have never finished a crossword puzzle. Instead, a client coming to me and saying, “I have this much time, this much money, and need to do this—I need help,” is to me the best challenge of all. It really is what I do for fun.

© 2005 Graphic Design USA

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