Alexa Erkaeva is a multi-talented graphic designer who hails from Turkmenistan. She has been filling sketchbooks with designs since she was but a child. And now with over 10 years experience in the graphic design industry, she’s ready to take on bigger things.
What was the turning point in your life when you decided to become a designer?
Ever since my childhood, I’ve always enjoyed drawing. Sketchbooks were being filled out quickly with simple illustrated stories full of quirky characters and imaginary scenes from the books. I also drew greeting cards for family and friends, made paper collages and other stuff like that. When my parents installed one of the earliest versions of Photoshop, I switched from paper to digital.
I was immensely captivated by graphic design and since then, I’ve known what I wanted to do in my life. All the skills I’ve acquired came with practice while I was working in studios and studying on my own.
Where are you from? and what can you tell us about the place?
I’m from Turkmenistan, Ashgabat (a former Soviet Union Republic). There is nothing to tell about this place (Giggle).
What does your day consist of?
I don’t wake up early enough, I’m up at around 10:00am. My day starts with a cup of coffee, I usually don’t have breakfast. I check my mail and websites like Dribbble, Behance, Instagram and also Logobaker. Even though I just started to be active on social networks, they have become a part of my morning ritual.
I often make a rough plan for a day. Then I basically go through the list step by step. During the day, if I have some ideas, I write them down in a notepad or make sketches. I always try to spend some time on personal projects and projects for fun. In the evening I meet with friends or go to gym. When I’m back home, I continue to work until late night. I try to go to bed earlier but it almost never happens. On the weekends, I try to relax. But guess what…?
What was the first logo you ever designed?
I’ve been doing graphic design for over 10 years now. It’s really hard to remember the first one. Probably, one of the earliest was a logotype I created for a friend of my dad who has a small computer store. I guess it was so terrible that I can’t even remember how it looked like.
Are you a Mac or a PC?
I’m taking the best of both worlds; working on Mac, playing games on PC. I like the design and aesthetics of Mac but it’s not for games.
Which software do you use frequently?
I mostly work in Adobe Illustrator, it’s the best for vector graphics. I also use Photoshop for complex illustrations, InDesign for print publications and Adobe Animate (aka Flash) for animations.
What is your favourite style of logo design? and why?
I like all logo types; minimal, illustrative, lettering – it all depends on where and how it’s going to be used. I believe that simplicity in logo design is not as important as emotions. Personally, I like to draw character-based logotypes that make people smile.
What is your daily inspiration when you design?
I get my inspiration by browsing works of other designers and illustrators on Pinterest and Behance. Books also give me a lot, especially fantasy and science fiction. Last but not least is music, it has an incredible impact on my productivity as well. Before starting to work on a new project, I always do research, i.e. search for references, read about the subject and prepare mood-boards.
What do you reckon is the best logo you’ve designed?
I can’t pick one yet. Every time I design something new, I try to give all my best. But as I gain more experience and skills, my “best” moves further away. One of my recent favourites was Trending Meow, this logotype has brought me a lot of new clients and also spawned all sorts of cats in my portfolio.
What are your top 5 favourite logos? (from all the logos ever created by mankind)
There are too many choices. I can’t see well-known brands separately from the product or service, which have great quality, rich history and creative marketing. If I abstract from it all, here’s my current top 5:
- Library of Life (人生 図 書館)
- London Underground
You also have an incredible skill for illustration, how often do you illustrate?
Thank you, I still have a long way to go, though. I try to draw something everyday, either sketch my ideas on paper or make digital illustrations. I’d say about half of my client work is illustration.
What’s the best part of what you do?
Although it’s not easy to be a designer in my country, I consider myself a lucky person. While many people spend their time at work anticipating weekends, I do what I really like every day.
One thing you always carry with you?
It’s a handbag. My bag is a galaxy that can fit everything. There’s just girly stuff plus some gadgets; a phone, Kindle, notepad, wallet, cosmetic bag, hairbrush, hard drive and glasses. If you ask me, do I need them all? The answer is definitely yes.
What’s lined up for Alexa Erkaeva in the future?
I believe that I’m on the way to something wonderful. I’m fortunate to do what I love and would like to develop further in this direction. It would be great to also be a part of large and interesting projects in the future.
Who is the most inspiring person to you?
The most inspiring person to me is my close friend, I’ve been working with him for over 10 years. I like his attitude and the way he sees things. The best piece of advice I’ve ever received was from him is “Always ask yourself the question: ‘Who am I?’” This helps to better understand what you want in this life and where you are going, and generally improves the quality of life. If you know who you are, you’ll be surrounded by the right people. You will not go against your morals and ethics. This way of thinking helps in my daily and professional life.
What is your message of inspiration for budding logo designers?
Nothing comes for free, it is necessary to work hard and also learn a lot. Diversity in our work helps greatly, always try something new and improve your skills.