painted canvas

What I do

I do what I do because I have a passion for design. In particular, brand identity design. I love creating visual identities that help people in business surpass everything they set out to achieve.

New projects are secured through a number of means: I convert website visitors into clients by demonstrating the value I bring to companies of all sizes. My online presence attracts 1,000,000 visitors and 2,500,000 page views per month, and many people arrive having searched for my name with the specific intention to hire me.

In 2011 I appeared as the fourth result on for the term “graphic designer” and its plural “graphic designers.” Today, only Wikipedia ranks higher.

Demand for my business is so high that I choose to work with only those companies in line with my values. Many of the projects I undertake are for non-profit organisations like Amnesty International, Marie Curie, and Oxfam.

Company directors and CEOs keep mentioning my name and recommending my work.


Design: The work I produce is inspired by studios and agencies like Johnson Banks, The Partners, Moving Brands, and SomeOne. The results I achieve are appropriate, distinctive, emotive, memorable, dynamic, and durable.

Writing: My books have been translated into 10 languages with more than 100,000 copies in print. They’re used extensively throughout design colleges and have inspired thousands of designers to dramatically improve their working process and/or to become self-employed.

Coaching/mentoring: Designers hire me on a project-by-project basis to help them achieve fantastic results for their own clients.


I sub-contract specific design items to people who are better and making something brilliant. These items include web development, brand strategy, illustration, photography, leaving me to focus on what I most enjoy: designing brand identities.

I build my business through personal relationships with those who excel in their related professions. I have no employees, instead sharing client payments with sub-contractors when needed. Those I team-up with are very well paid because the work they produce significanly increases client profits.

The nature of my business means that I can work from any location with an Internet connection.


I’ve collaborating with clients from 25 different countries and the diversity keeps growing. Distance has no adverse effect on the design process, and can actually be a positive factor because no time is wasted travelling to and from meetings.

My blog has 50,000 subscribers via RSS and email, mirroring the follower count on my Twitter profile. 100,000 fans have “liked” my Logo Design Love Facebook page.

My website has received hits from every permanently populated country on the planet.

Google Analytics visitor map overlayGoogle Analytics visitor map overlay for


When people want to talk, I’m the one who answers the phone. There’s no filter.

I read every email I receive and respond to as many as I possibly can. I say what others are thinking, and don’t tip-toe around the subject.

My website is highly-regarded in the design profession and is seen as a forum that provokes lively debate around topics affecting the lives of graphic designers everywhere.


I’m paid an annual five figure sum from sponsors of my online presence. The brands I highlight all offer a product or service of benefit to my site visitors, and sponsorship is kept to an absolute minimum so as not to detract from the quality of my site content.

Publishers and PR agencies send me copies of every new design book. Once read, I pass them onto my readers as a very small thank you for their support. Electronic manufacturers send me their latest products in the hope of reaching my audience through unbiased reviews. These products are also passed freely to my readers.

Customer service

Word-of-mouth recommendations are frequent, due in no small part to the care and attention I give to customer service. I’m never working on more than two projects at once, and as such, my attention is fully focused on those who pay for my time.


The media call upon me for expert opinion on everything related to brand identity. I’m regularly offered paid gigs writing articles and giving opinion in both the on- and offline press. I share these pieces on my website to generate discussion and to learn from my readers, at the same time building credibility for my personal brand and those of the clients I’ve worked with.


I continue to increase profits year on year. A number of clients presented me with equity and stock options in their companies to allow me to benefit from the upturn in business I’ve helped create.

My expertise has developed to the extent where I work fewer hours than at any other stage in my career, yet with significantly higher earnings.

A sizeable percentage of money is earned through relatively passive income streams such as Amazon Affiliate sales and online advertising.


Much like Stefan Sagmeister’s sabbaticals, I afford my family the benefit of regular extended time away from work. The new cultural experiences are used to further improve the results in my client projects.

I continually lower the time spent sat at a desk. I run five miles twice a week and use my home gym on three of the weekdays when not running. It’s important to me that any family I’m fortunate enough to raise is brought-up in an active, health-conscious environment.

Every week contains time devoted to catching up with friends and family. When travelling for work, it’s mainly to locations where I can either visit family and friends, or take them along for the experience.


I learn how to improve the design work I produce from people who run leading design studios and brand consultancies. They kindly take time out of their schedule to answer questions I have and to provide valuable feedback on my work. We communicate on the phone and by email.

There’s really very little my mentors need in the way of help from me, but I insist upon regularly publishing insights into their working practices on my website in order to further spread their names, knowledge, and work around the world.


I feel incredibly fortunate to lead the life that I do. It’s a simple matter of chance that I was born into a loving family in Northern Ireland with a roof over my head and food on the table instead of being orphaned at the age of five in the Kenyan township of Kibera. My business grows stronger alongside a deep appreciation for every chance that comes my way. I choose how and where to spend my time, and because of which, I’m relaxed, stress-free, but most of all, extremely grateful.

painted canvas

You’ll find examples of the Painted Picture coming true in Cameron Herold’s book Double Double, published by Greenleaf Book Group. My thanks to Cameron for what’s so far a solid read on improving your business (I stopped reading in order to Paint).

Double Double: How to Double Your Revenue and Profit in 3 Years or Less is available on and

If you’ve created a painted picture of your own business three years down the line, I’d love to see it.

# #

March 27, 2011


Absolutely beautiful – both the painting and the business that you’ve built. Thank you for sharing your insight along your travels.

This is a terrific way to paint what you want to achieve. I like the sections it’s split up in and your goals under each of them.

It’s an inspiration in my own planning, to remember to think big and also further ahead than a year.

This was quite a surprising post to read; quite a good break from the normal flow of things. It’s great to hear about the success you’ve gained through much hard work and trials.

I’m looking forward to what you’ll bring to us readers through to 2014…

Thanks very much, Christina. Bengt, Andrew, glad you liked the insight.

In his book, Cameron talks about how we reverse engineer our success: we visualize where we want to be, then think about how we’re going to get there. This is the start of my own engineering project, and I have a few ideas about how to get where I hope to go.

I’ve often thought of such things for myself, but never committed them to paper in anyway. I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a wonderfully inspiring post to do exactly that.

What I found most charming about it is that you were realistic. I’m sure there are many, many people who would decide to do something akin to this, only to write things like “in five years I’m going to have a million dollar a year client cycle! with a studio of 35 people and a billion hits to my website.”

I’ve no doubt you could reach your goals outlined here, and thats ignoring what I know of you and your work before this post – with only whats offered here, it’s clear you’re going to excel. Will enjoy watching it continue to happen :)

G’day from Down Under,

What I like about this post by David, is the ability to connect with him as a person. That human connection is real and it makes me understand the importance of connecting with our design clients.

This is also one of the reasons that keeps me coming back to see what’s new in the world of David Airey.

For those who haven’t picked up their copy of Logo Design Love I urge you to take a peak. I couldn’t wait for it to be delivered to us here in Australia so I downloaded the Kindle version straight away. Although I would have preferred an iBook version.

Hey David it was really nice to see the paint, hope you paint your life your business as same as you have mentioned.
It’ll be intresting to see the same in 2014.

Thanks for sharing with us.

You should do this every three years with a new painting! I’m jealous, wish I was born into a family in Northern Ireland…j/k I love my family. But I would like to live in Ireland. I love reading your advice as a young designer. Thanks for sharing your design and business wisdom.

Thanks for sharing with Us David.

I admire those with the dream and dedication to make Plan ‘A’ work. What struck me most about your write-up in the fact that you are balancing your life between work and family and friends. I am facing that right now but find myself having to dedicate more time towards the professional side.

Looking forward to more.

Brilliant to read, Alexander. I hope you do create your own three-year outlook. I was excited to produce this one after reading about the idea.

Kerrilee, very kind of you to say. Thank you.

Shelby, my pleasure. I’d love to see what you come up with.

Maria, feel free to get in touch if you plan a trip to Ireland. Perhaps I can help in some way.

David, the majority of my time today is dedicated to my work, and I think that’s to be expected for anyone building a business. I’d like to spend more time with those close to me in the future, but to be fair, you know you’re in the right profession when you actually enjoy your “working” hours.

Thanks folks.

I finally can relate to a business model I can and will enjoy for quite a long time. I do have my own business since 2008 and I have to make strategic decision because it’s in a growing stage right now. I love the fact that you keep focusing on 1 or two project at once instead of having a team of 35 employees and a heavier structure. Being the one to answer directly to client and choosing the projects because they are in line with my value is also a core wish.

Currently finishing an MBA to better complement my artistic and irrational (lol, yeah…) background, I can tell that business school do not really consider this model as a “real” way of doing business and I strongly objected to that (and that they overuse the word “creativity” without really knowing the core meaning of it). I would have love to hear a lecture in entrepreneurship from you in my class. The bigger is not necessarily the better!

Anyway, thank you for your transparency in how you see design, business and vision.

Regards, from Montreal ;)

Highly inspiring… over the years i have been inspired by your works and really wanted to tow in your line (business model) but then again i felt organisation would prefer to deal with corporate organisation thereby made me not to run as a sole entrepreneur. I am presently heading to the UK from Nigeria to take a PGD in business management to further enhance my business skills in running an organisation but after reading this, i guess i should have an afterthought…

I have written such documents several times in my life. Then life gets in the way and I adapt as I may.

You will succeed , David. Just remember that family, community and spirituality feed your soul. There is more to life than money and success. It is being contented with your life.



No pretence. Just honesty. David you are a legend. You have captivated an audience for just being you. Somewhere we would all like to be. And in a glossy world of hype that is commendable.

Thank you for your books, your blogs and your inspiration.


Amazing “painting”, Mr. Airey. I admire the standard you set for yourself when you wrote “I’m never working on more than two projects at once”… I’d like to be able to say that about myself when I’m older.

Wow, wasn’t expecting that. What a lovely piece of writing and a fantastic target to aim for. You go for it.

Good luck with the MBA, Christine. I always saw myself giving one a shot, too, but haven’t thought about it for three or four years. Thanks for the little insight.

Good luck to you, too, Asoto, with your trip to the UK. I hope it works out brilliantly.

Thanks very much, everyone, for reading/commentating.

Really good read David!

I can see myself doing something similar later this week. I think a 5 year plan to hit X goals is something we can all be implementing to better ourselves, Time moves so fast and without a goal, its hard to score (Paul Arden?)…

Really amazing and inspirational. Thank you for sharing this on your blog.
I dream of making my entire living as a freelancer someday so that I can be the kind of Mom and wife I want to be when I have a family. I always get inspired and motivated to try harder when I read your blog posts.
It’s wonderful that you now work less hours but make more–in result, having more time to spend with your family and loved ones.

David!!! LOVE the painting. This is a side of you that I would really like to see more of, and cant wait for the next one!!


May the year ahead bring you to new heights, and most important may the journey be as interesting as ever. Here is wishing you a GREAT future, and one that is HIGHLY DUE TO YOU!! God Bless!!

What a great post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading an in-site into your career and the successes you’ve achieved to get to the position you’re at now. In fairness, I hadn’t heard of you until I stumbled across your site whilst browsing the web, however, I’m hooked and now find your site to be a great resource for inspiration.

I wish you all the best in the future of your career and look forward to reading more of your posts.

David, what you have here is indeed excellent! It’s actually my first time here, but after seeing how wonderful your work of arts here, I think I’ll be around more. I particularly like the “Communication” section above. How you handle your clients is truly impressive, as not many business owners really take time to actually answer the phone as well as read every email and respond to it themselves. I just can imagine how tiresome it is. Haven’t you thought of having someone to assist you with this? I knew several people who did. And now they have more time to focus on what’s really important for their business.

I am looking forward to what you’ll be “painting” us through to 2014. Thanks for the inspiration!

Your site consistently poped up in searches when I did research. Finally I just sat and read your blog like a book.

So thank you for continuing to inspire me to be better at what I do. Hope your painting comes to life.


Great texture in your painting!

Go for it, Liam. Cameron recommends the following:

“The main reason to stick to a three-year timeline is that longer periods tend to overwhelm. Think of it this way: in order to create a Painted Picture, you need to keep one foot firmly planted in the present, while the other reaches out and taps tentatively on the soil of the future. If you go much further than three years into the future, you lose your balance and fall over.”

Jessica, here’s to every success for Daxis Design and whatever shape it takes in the future.

Lakshmi, thanks very much for the birthday wishes. I had a superb dinner with my closest family. Hoping you’re well.

Paul, Rojae, Magda, thank you all for the kind thoughts.

Hi David! Your site and your rationale are incredible. Thank you for being professional and excellent, you have inspired me.

This was quite inspiring. I have now envisioned my entire future. I could actually read this about 25 times a day and take something new from it each time. This really reminds me of my life and all of the things I would like to accomplish by the time I reach a certain age. Thank you for sharing!

Jeremy Darko | “Creativity Takes Courage”


Looks like you ‘ve got your life set on the right tracks.

And you enjoy every single part of it :)

I am really happy for you.

Just a quick question:

How long did it take for you, to reach your first milestone?


Rojae, I missed your question first time around. Apologies. I have thought about hiring extra help, but I don’t want the payroll hassle at this stage, and I attribute some of the results I’ve achieved to-date to the fact that I do spend a considerable amount of time personally replying to emails (rather than paying someone else to do so).

Yuri, tough question, as I’ve not been in the habit of setting SMART objectives. Thanks for the kind words.


This is a great idea. I am currently a student at Cerritos College, majoring in Graphic Design. We are working on Resumes now. What great timing. People rarely hire you because of what you have done in the past….they want to know what you will do for them in the future!

This is so inspiring! I am going to print this out and share it with my classmates. It gives a very clear (as in crystal clear) picture of what you need to do, to get where you want to go. We all need that!

I am reluctant to admit that my goals are far more vague and general. I am committed to drawing up a map like yours for myself immediately! It will take a slightly different form. I need a checklist and task sheet. I need to be able to take the steps necessary in the proper order and a checklist tends to help me do that.

The freedom with which you share information is so rare. I cannot thank you enough for all you have given me. (even though you didn’t really know you were giving it to me specifically.) :D Thanks again

Brilliant. I feel like I’m currently at this crossroad in my life and I’ve taken to writing heaps in my journal. I’ve always done the plan five years ahead thing, half the goals I achieve and the other half are completely misaligned from where I see myself going. The last two years I’ve started planning one or two years ahead only, wrapped in as much travelling as I can possibly afford. Especially with my big issue, that inevitable growing adult cynicism – the cure I’ve found for that is to keep it realistic, achievable and fulfilling. The more goals I set and achieve the more fulfilled I become.

Definitely going to have a go at this.

Heard about this post on a podcast I listened to on the train this morning, an interview of Mark McGuinness. Very happy I decided to google it. Inspiring way to start the day. Thank you for sharing David!

Hi there! We’re now in March 2014, I hope you were able to create your painted picture! Maybe it could be a post idea. ;)

Excellent read as a business owner, really gave me a wide awakening realizing I have not really set my business goals using the excuse that I am too busy helping small businesses with web design, I often forget to try and get a vision of my own business in three years instead of my clients business. But I too love what I do and love to get to work daily to find out how my creativity and eye for design can help give my client a professional look and brand to help their business grow and prosper through the Internet.

Share a thought