Local graphic designer visits Southern’s art department

Jene Thomas  – General Assignment Reporter 

Having originally studied architecture in college, graphic artist Alexander Isley took his drawing and started his own brand design business, self named Alexander Isley Inc.

“I thought of working as my own boss essentially at such a young age like he did but that really opened up my eyes,” said Katie Johnstone, senior graphic design major.

As a part of the 2015 Visiting Artist Series, the Art Department at Southern Connecticut State University invited Isley to speak at Earl Hall, RM 216 on March 24 at 5 p.m. where he showcased some of his latest works, as well as his beginning pieces. A major theme of his lecture discussed the transition from working for someone else to establishing his own business.

“You just have to work harder than anyone you know,” Isley said.

Alexander Isley Inc. is a brand design company that works with clients to help develop a company’s identity through artwork. The company could be hired to design the client’s logo, or build on what they already do. Alexander Isley Inc. has done work for well-known companies such as Goodwill and Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, among others.

The design for the Mesa Grill came from a design meant for another company. One of Isley’s first projects was to come up with a creative idea for Edge Communications. He had drawn out “EDGE” but with the top halves of each letter missing when he learned that the company was bought out.

Rather than throwing away the drawing, he kept it out of being fond of it. Six months later, he got an offer to do the design of the Mesa Grill logo. While looking at the drawing he’d created for Edge Communications, he decided to use that idea.

“Hold onto every idea because even if it doesn’t happen right away, you can use it for something else.”

As a designer, and an artist in general, Isley emphasized how much inspiration can lead to success. He said that designers typically find inspiration from all aspects of life and can use that inspiration to create something brand new. He attributes his design inspiration to his family.

During the slideshow of the timeline of his work, Isley brought up a picture of one of his mother’s journals, which she later gave to him. His mother worked as a copywriter in advertising and kept a portfolio of some of her work. He said he thought it’d be cool to have a job where sketching and drawing was essential.

His father worked as an architect and would allow Isley to come up with some of the blueprints, which he said fascinated him. After high school, Isley went to North Carolina State University to study design.

Upon graduation, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do until a colleague introduced him to his job working under a graphic designer at M&Co. Eight to 10 months out of school, Isley was named a senior designer.  He went on to Spy Magazine where he worked as the first full time art director.

Although he said he loved working for the magazine, he knew he didn’t want to do that forever. I knew he wanted to start his own company and had been saving money since his school days to do so.

In 1988, Isley established Alexander Isley Inc. and began refurbishing different company’s images. Alexander Isley Inc. is located in Redding, Conn.

“If you’re just working for a place where you’re banging stuff out and not learning anything, you would’ve wasted the first few years of your career,” Isley said.

Photo Credit: Derek Torrellas


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