I'm a graphic designer and writer in Northern Ireland. Welcome to my blog.

5 things about design, blogs, and me

design things

Brian Gardner recently asked me, and some design friends, five questions related to . Here’s the short Q and A session.

What is something that would surprise people about you and design?

Most of my graphic design knowledge is completely self-taught, and I’ve learnt perhaps 100 times more since leaving education. I don’t regret my student years one bit, but I’m sure that if I started into businesss sooner, rather than further study, I’d be more ahead of the game at this point in my life.

Regarding WordPress, and blogs, I first found out about both less than a year ago, and I’m sure I’ll be involved with them for a long time to come. It’s amazing what you can pick up in a short period of time (although really has me outdone here).

If you could design one blogger’s site for free, who would it be?

I can’t honestly say. Not because I haven’t done any charitable projects, but because I’m still wet behind the ears where blog design is concerned. My own blog theme is the only one I’ve built from scratch, so I need some practice.

When it comes down to it, I’d like to re-design for someone with similar design tastes, although that would mean they already have a clean, minimal blog design. Just how different can one minimal blog design be from another? Probably quite a lot.

Perhaps it would make more sense to take a cluttered design and turn it minimal? That’d certainly have more impact, and may give greater satisfaction.

What blog platform do you prefer, and why?

WordPress (hosted and self-hosted) is the only blog platform I’ve ever used, so I’m not all that qualified to answer. However, I feel no need to switch to another, and the vast majority of blog authors would back me up. If you think differently, I’d love to know why, and what platform you use.

Aside from your own, what is your favourite blog theme / template?

I reckon Brian asked me this because he knew I’d pick his . I used the three column version for four or five months, heavily modifying it along the way. Vertigo served me very well, which is testament to Brian’s blog design skills.

Do you use any of Brian’s ?

Regarding my own layout, I’ll be writing more about it, and the process I went through to get here, in an upcoming article.

Do you have a blog-reading guilty pleasure?

To be honest, lately I’ve not had as much time as I’d like for reading other blogs, which is a , I know. I make a point of accessing my Google Reader almost every day, to see what some choice authors are writing about. In my feed reader are people like: Andy with his , Daniel who provides some excellent , accomplished Mark, Kevin, and about 25 or 30 others.

I like to read blogs where I’m going to learn something, which is why I often take a step back and look at my own blog posts. Am I teaching or preaching? I’ve nothing against preaching of course, and I’ve come to call a good friend.

A short footnote

I’ve participated in a few memes in my short time blogging, and have written posts such as 8 facts about David Airey, and . This one from Brian was a little different, however, as it posed some specific questions relating to design.

If anyone else wants to pick up this meme, by all means go ahead. was the first to pick up Brian’s meme baton.

Brian, thanks for asking.

My second book on Amazon

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16 comments about “5 things about design, blogs, and me”

  1. I’m a WordPress user as well. The theming and modding community behind it is just incredible. That was what really sold me on it, and not another platform. :)

  2. Nice read; it’s always pleasant to get away from the opinions and the tips and advice, and just do some background story like this.

    Hey, if not reading enough is a blogging mistake, what do you call reading too much so you barely write anymore, like me at the moment? I think you’re doing good here.

    If you ever wanna redesign NDNL, that would be awesome. I’d have to get some hosting though so maybe not: I’m kinda lazy with those things, only second to writing posts ;-) Cheers!

  3. Michael,

    You’re doing a great job coding WordPress, and I agree, the community behind it is pretty incredible. I think that in my case, I was fortunate to land with it first time, rather than using a different platform.


    Glad you liked the read. I often wonder how my readers respond to different kinds of blog posts – for instance, this one is more personal than most others.

    I can empathise with reading too much. I’ve done that before, leaving myself little time for my own blog efforts.

    It’d be a pleasure working with you if a self-hosted blog is the direction you’re taking. Just give me a shout, and thanks for dropping in!

  4. David, you mention that most of your graphic design is self-taught. I’d definitely be interested in reading more about specifics of how you taught yourself and even more about the experiences you’ve had during that ongoing process. Also, since you say mostly self-taught, have you taken zero graphic design classes or just a few compared to others?

    I think there’s a big difference between someone who’s a graphic design major (not always good graphic designers, unfortunately), someone who’s taken a few classes and then practiced a lot, and someone who’s never taken any classes and just started messing around. I, for one, feel like a hack because I’ve never taken any classes (it shows) but it’s fallen on me from a lot of angles because of my background in other kinds of design and illustration.

  5. Hi Danny,

    When I was 15, I enrolled on an ‘art and design’ course, spending two years at college for a GNVQ qualification, then a further two years gaining an HND (equivalent of half a degree course). It was kind of an all-round course, although I definitely had more of an interest in the graphic design side.

    To be honest though, looking back to when I left at 19, I really didn’t have the speciality that I should’ve. It was more a case of knowing a little about a lot. I then went on to study at university, for three years on a ‘graphic communications management’ course. Just one, of the 30 or so classes I took, was for graphic design.

    Other classes included marketing, human resources, pre-press, press and post-press. All useful stuff.

    After those three years I ended up taking a post-grad course in pure management, which has certainly helped, although not on the graphic design front.

    However, had I not spent months engrossed in online forums, asking as many questions as I could, showing examples of my design and learning from critiques, I’d not be anywhere near where I am now. You have to surround yourself with people who know more than you, and at the time, the only way I could was through websites such as the HOW design forum.

    So you could say that I fit into your 2nd bracket – someone who’s taken a few classes and then practiced a lot.

  6. Sometimes the second bracket is better — a lot of degree programs have you learn extraneous things, which is what I’m finding on my search for a suitable grad or certificate program. And there’s so much you can learn the way of the autodidact… honestly, just going to the library and checking out anything and everything that interests you is important.

    I am always on the look out for books on art history, architecture, some specific movements or people I like, graphic design, advertising survey volumes, etc. If I had unlimited bookspace and resources, my personal library would be huuuuuuuuge :).

  7. Good point, Renata.

    Never underestimate the power of a good read, especially where typography is concerned. Ah for a limitless personal design library.

  8. It was fun reading your answers! I wish I would have discovered WordPress sooner, too, but now that I use it, I can’t imagine working without it.

    Brian’s themes are just some of the most solid, easiest to customize, and well thought out themes around. You can not go wrong with any of them.

  9. Nice article, it’s wordpress all the way for me, it is just so easy to use!

  10. Thanks for going further into depth about your education and background, it’s always nice to hear what people have gone through to learn what they know!

  11. David–

    Another great post. Your commentary makes me want to bite the bullet and go for the self-hosted .org blog rather than my .com. I’m just not sure if I can handle that level of control quite yet…

    This is my first comment, but I’ve been a huge fan for a few months–ever since “What makes a great logo?” You’re one of my sources of inspiration for my job. Keep on doing what you do!

  12. Yeah like most others I use WP as well..

  13. I enjoy reading these personal insights. Was there a reference in there to your religious convictions too?

    Hope to see more of these posts. And congratulations on passing the 4000 visitors mark–that’s a truly impressive stat.

  14. Thanks Char,

    It seems you’re not the only one who prefers more personal blog posts.


    You’re very welcome.


    Thanks for leaving your first comment! It’s great to know that I provide some inspiration!


    Thanks for the congrats. I’ll see what I can do about more personal insights in the future. Finding the time is the only crux.

    As for my religious convictions, I’m firmly in the Agnostic corner. I think there is something greater, but I just don’t know what.

  15. David, however did you guess as to why I asked the question about your favorite theme! :) Great answers – always nice to see people respond to questions like that.

  16. I had a sneaky suspicion Brian. ;)

    Great questions, and thanks again for asking.

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