Designer Interview With Henry Alvarez
Today we have a Designer Interview With Henry Alvarez. Henry is a Creative Director from New York. During his colourful, award-winning career, Henry’s well-rounded understanding of branding, problem-solving and art direction have made him a standout creative professional. He has developed creative for a wide range of markets, from consumer products to sports marketing. He has been referred to as a creative chameleon, always adapting his mindset to better understand his audience and deliver visually engaging creative.
Henry’s creative journey started when he was a young fan of comic books and artists such as Frank Frazetta, Jack Kirby and Neal Adams. He studied art in high school and moved on to study fine arts history in college as well as undertaking subjects such as sculpture, photography, painting and life drawing.
By the time Henry had received his associate’s degree in fine arts, He had already learned about iconic designers like Saul Bass, Paul Rand, Herb Lubalin, and Milton Glaser. Henry’s teachers suggested that he would do well in the advertising industry because he was so inspired by the movie posters and identity design Saul Bass had developed, so he set his sights on continuing his education in this related field.
Henry’s first job out of school was creating comps and mechanical paste-up for a rock & roll magazine. He says this was perfect fit for him since he was a drummer in a band and music was always part of his life.
Henry eventually moved on to help establish a creative department at a Fortune 500 company. He then worked at a few small to mid-size ad agencies. He has always enjoyed the creative process, teamwork and is proud of his teams and the work they have created together through his long career. He says he has learned something from everyone he has crossed paths with and was lucky to have been surrounded by so many talented people.
During his career, he has had the opportunity to work with clients such as the NBA, NFL, MLS, Palm Bay International, Florida Lottery, Reebok, Foot Locker, Toyota, Xerox, Verizon, Scholastic, NAMIC, Columbia University, HBO, Maisons & Domaines Henriot America, Penguin Random House, got milk?, Ad Council & Outback.
Henry currently runs his own design studio with a small team consisting of a copywriter, designer, and production artist.
The Logo Creative — Hi Henry I’m really glad you’re taking part in our designer interviews, I have been a fan of your work for quite a while especially your poster work its fantastic.
Henry Alvarez — Hi Andrew I’m flattered, I really appreciate it and would love to take part in this.
The Logo Creative — What was the turning point in your life when you decided to become a designer and how did you proceed?
Henry Alvarez — I had always done well in grade school and high school art classes, so I studied fine arts in college. I took sculpture, photography, painting, drawing and the history of fine arts (I still have my Janson History of Art book from school) When I received my associates degree in fine arts I had already become friends with a few students in the design classes and became aware of designers like Saul Bass, Paul Rand, Herb Lubalin & Milton Glaser. I remember being inspired by the movie posters Saul Bass had done. A few teachers had told me I would do well as a comp or storyboard artist in the advertising industry (before the switch to designing on computers) so I decided to switch over to advertising design. My first job out of school was doing mechanical paste-up for a rock & roll magazine. It was perfect since I was playing in a band.
The Logo Creative — What does your day consist of?
Henry Alvarez — Naps. Just kidding. I do find that I work better early in the day or late at night. Depending on what project I am working on, my day consists of whatever is necessary to get the work done as best I can.
The Logo Creative — Are you a morning person or night owl and is there a reason why?
Henry Alvarez — In general, I do what I need to do to get the job done. I find that I am most productive in the morning and late at night. Fewer distractions.
The Logo Creative — What was the first logo you ever designed?
Henry Alvarez — I’m pretty sure it was a logo for my heavy metal band in high school. I am a drummer. I ended up designing a few other logos for local bands at the time.
The Logo Creative — What is your favourite Logo you have designed?
Henry Alvarez — Hard to say because I tend to not look back at work I’ve done. I’m one of those designers that look at old work and thinks about how I could have done it differently or better. My favorite would probably be a logo I designed over a decade ago for a sailboat cruise company. That one still stands out to me because it was a turning point in my style.
The Logo Creative — What is your favourite Logo of all time?
Henry Alvarez — This is always a tough question. I tend to like logos that stood the test of time. It would be hard to choose one, so I’ll mention a few. Nike, Citibank, Nine Inch Nails, Apple & FedEx to name a few. I like simple, memorable and iconic.
The Logo Creative — Can you describe or give us an overview of your logo design process?
Henry Alvarez — I don’t really have a formula. I look at every project differently. Sometimes logos just happen, and sometimes they require a lot of information and exploration. In general, I review the brief and ask any questions that may not have been covered. I research the industry to get a better understanding of its competitors and consumer base. I create a mood board of images to inspire me. Based on the mood boards, I see if there are any interesting shapes or visuals that can be worked into the logo in a clever way, finally I start sketching. Once I feel I have some worthy sketches, I’ll start to develop on the desktop.
The Logo Creative — What brands do you most admire and how do they influence your creative thinking?
Henry Alvarez — There are many for different reasons. I love TOMS. Their charitable contributions speak to their brand and what they care about. Consumers want to stand with a brand that stands for something. I’ll also add Nike. Their brand strategy and messaging have always been top notch. You can’t see Nike branding without wanting to get out there and try. These influence me because it helps me remember the importance of connecting with the consumer in some way.
The Logo Creative — What do you consider your most successful design project, and why?
Henry Alvarez — Most of the work I have done for charities and non-profits. Maybe it’s not the successful part of it but how it makes me feel. It’s a great feeling when you use your talents to help a cause you believe in. Far better feeling than the successful projects you won awards for. All those awards are just gathering dust on a shelf.
The Logo Creative — In your opinion regarding Logo Design pricing do you prefer working on a fixed rate or customer budget and can you explain why?
Henry Alvarez — I have several fixed rates depending on who the client is. I wouldn’t charge a small business or start up the same as I would a large established brand. The majority of my work comes from advertising so I tend to be very selective in the logo projects I take on.
The Logo Creative — How long does it take to complete the average logo design project from start to finish?
Henry Alvarez — I can’t say I have a definitive answer to this. I’ve completed logos in a couple of hours and I have worked on logos for months. As I mentioned earlier, sometimes logos just happen and sometimes they require a lot of exploration. It all depends on the project and of course the budget.
The Logo Creative — What are your recommended design books to read?
Henry Alvarez — There are many great design books. Instead of recommending those books I’d like to recommend you read other subjects that are crucial to good design. Read books on the psychology of color, business, brand strategy and art history. All these subjects will help you become a better designer. Although different, I was a drummer in a heavy metal band when I was younger. When I started learning jazz, funk, and other instruments, I became a far better drummer. I see this the same way. Learn as much as you can about related subjects
The Logo Creative — Are you a MAC or PC User and is there a reason for your choice?
Henry Alvarez — Mac. I’ve been on the Mac since it first came out.
The Logo Creative — Which software do you use frequently?
Henry Alvarez — I use illustrator for logos. Most of the work I do is for advertising, so I use Photoshop and InDesign as well. Everything starts with a pencil.
The Logo Creative — What is your favourite style of logo design? And why?
Henry Alvarez — I like lettermarks and abstract/pictorial logos. I’m a huge fan of minimalism. Below is some of my logo design work.
The Logo Creative — What was the biggest challenge you ever faced on a project?
Henry Alvarez — There’s always going to be a challenge. I’d say rewriting copy with my copywriter on set for TV commercials or video content. Really stressful when you have an entire film crew waiting on you.
The Logo Creative — What is your daily inspiration when you design?
Henry Alvarez — I think clearing your mind and walking away from a design for a while can work wonders. Inspiration eventually comes when you least expect it. In general, anything can inspire me, a magazine cover, a TV commercial, a comment someone has made, a package, billboard, architecture, a fine art painting, you name it. I believe inspiration can come from anywhere if you open your mind to it.
The Logo Creative — When you’re not designing do you have a favorite free time activity you like to do?
Henry Alvarez — There are so many. Family, travel, long walks with my dog, museums, and galleries, and I have a guilty pleasure of watching really bad horror movies.
The Logo Creative — In your opinion what’s the best and worst part of your job being a designer?
Henry Alvarez — The best part is that I love designing. The worst part is that I love designing. I say this because sometimes I keep wanting to rework a design that I have already completed.
The Logo Creative — Who is the most inspiring person to you and why?
Henry Alvarez — Career-wise it would be my former boss. His name was Alberto. He knew how to get the best out of everyone. He taught me a lot about the industry and building client relationships. We worked well together and he became a great friend. He wasn’t just a boss, he was also a great leader and presenter. Alberto passed away at a young age. I still miss working with him to this day and am forever grateful for what he taught me.
The Logo Creative — Who is your favourite Graphic Designer and why?
Henry Alvarez — There are many but I’ll have to go back to Saul Bass simply for this quote “I want everything we do to be beautiful. I don’t give a damn whether the client understands that that’s worth anything, or that the client thinks it’s worth anything, or whether it is worth anything. It’s worth it to me. It’s the way I want to live my life. I want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares.” I think if you can live your life like this you’ll always be happy doing what you do.
The Logo Creative — What’s your favourite design quote?
Henry Alvarez — “Design is so simple, that’s why it is so complicated.” — Paul Rand
The Logo Creative — In less than 10 words what is graphic design?
Henry Alvarez — Communicating a message or brand essence through visuals.
The Logo Creative — What steps did you take to start your graphic design business? Did you have to make any sacrifices on your journey?
Henry Alvarez — I hustled a lot to acquire clients, worked hard and did my best to make sure clients could always count on me and trust me no matter what they needed. There are always sacrifices when you are doing something you love.
The Logo Creative — Do you have any regrets? Is there anything you would have changed early on in your career?
Henry Alvarez — I can’t say I have any regrets. Everything happens for a reason and helps mold us into who we are.
The Logo Creative — If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
Henry Alvarez — Don’t drink all that whiskey in the 80's.
The Logo Creative — What’s the most important piece of advice you have received as a designer that’s helped you?
Henry Alvarez — I’ve been very fortunate in my career to have had so many mentors and creative people around me. Two pieces of advice that always stood out to me was, “If you can’t sell your idea in a sentence or two, you already failed”and “Understand the target audience. Be the target audience”
The Logo Creative — What would be your advice for new Logo and Graphic Designers?
Henry Alvarez — Don’t ask “How did you do that?” ask “Why did you do that?” Learning how to produce something is easy. Learning the thinking behind it is the hard part. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to fail. You learn more from your mistakes than you ever will from your achievements. Stay humble, explore and believe in yourself.
learn more about Henry Alvarez | henryalvarezdesign.com
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Originally published at The Logo Creative | Logo Design & Brand Identity Designer.