Interview with Lawrence Azerrad of LADdesign

Lawrence Azerrad founded his studio LAD Design in 2001, an agency that boasts an impressive list of past and current clients including The Clinton Foundation, Red Bull, Heal the Bay and uber-famous rock bands such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Wilco.

I just had to know what it was like to work with Jeff Tweedy, Wilco’s lead singer, who’s known for dabbling in a variety of creative endeavors from music to poetry. Azerrad, who has a sixteen-year client relationship with Tweedy, credits the musician for pushing him past his boundaries as a designer.

“When you work for another creative,” Azerrad said, “you have to understand that you’re making art through their lens. For me, that’s where I learned to be flexible and that’s when the work became more collaborative and fulfilling.”

I asked him what he thought is the most underrated element of the creative process today, he quickly replied, “Context. It’s easy to get online and find immediate ‘inspiration,’ and I think designers really lose something when they don’t take the time to explore and discover their message.” These aren’t just idle words; Azerrad shared that he lists pen and paper as his very first step in his design process.

For inspiration, he casts a wide net, listing such influences as mid-century modern pioneers Charles and Ray Eames as well as Sister Corita Kent best known for her work in serigraphy.

Here in present-day Los Angeles, Azerrad referenced verynice CEO Matthew Manos as an individual who has revolutionized how designers do business. “He’s turned the whole concept of ‘giving work away’ on it’s head by really showing designers how to make those opportunities work for them.” Manos, who founded the verynice design studio in 2013, developed an open-source business model focused on transforming his business into a space where pro bono work makes up over 50% of the final services offered through his agency.

“People like [Matt] inspire me,” said Azerrad, who also pointed out that designers must be willing to lend their creative mindset to the business side of our industry in order to keep the profession profitable, and to prevent stagnation.

No stranger to personal projects, Azerrad has dedicated nearly 10 years of his life to his own passion-driven project centered on the design history of The Concorde.

You can learn more about Azerrad’s journey through the chronicles of The Concorde and pick up a limited edition silkscreen poster from The Concorde project at the January 22nd Hecho En Los Angeles event, AIGA LA’s new series of conversations focusing on the state of design culture in L.A. Hecho En L.A. aims to spark a continuous conversation centered on our city itself, which is often overlooked as the global design influencer that it truly is.

Join us at the Pacific Design Center where Azerrad will explore the history of past creatives that hailed from our fair city while also providing perspective on the impact past work has had on the design community as we know it today.

Click here for more information on how to attend. 

By Amy Wilson
Published January 21, 2014
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