Ina Oakley: Put in the Time

Creative Director

by Elizabeth Lavis


28 Dec 2023

Gold Winner in Logos for Graphic Design 2023
“A good design requires many conversations in advance and good, precise, preliminary work about the vision and values”

The best advice that Ina Oakley, Creative Director, Communication Designer, and unofficial mental therapist, has ever heard is ‘always take the time that is necessary.’ Living in different parts of Germany has taught her to be dedicated, focused, and put in the effort. “A big influence for me was working in Munich for BMW Magazine. The look was fine minimalist, super high-quality design. It had to invoke pure aesthetics and emotions, and you could feel the sense of power, dynamism, and subtlety in every story. I learned an incredible amount there and often read and designed late into the night.”

Oakley's personal philosophy is simple: get the job done. “Just do it,” she says. “I tell myself that very often. Before I philosophize about things for a long time, I just do them.” Oakley realized that she was destined to design at a very early age. “I took part in many painting competitions, and it was already clear to me at ten years old that I would become a designer,” she says. “My father gave me my first SLR camera, and I loved to capture everything that touched me. I often painted the photos simply for the joy of it. Some of those pictures are still hanging in our house today.”

Oakley believes that trust is one of the most important aspects of the client/designer relationship. “For the designer to create a real and true design, the client has to be able to open up. Otherwise, we designers can’t feel it,” she says. “A good design requires many conversations in advance and good, precise, preliminary work about the vision and values.”

"Eva Lueg", buero inaoakley

She establishes trust by having an initial in-depth, detailed conversation. “We get to know each other, and we find out quickly whether we can imagine working together,” she says. Next, Oakley puts in the research. “I find out what already exists, read up on the topic, and look at what competitors are out there,” she says. “If necessary, I also do a workshop on archetypes, wording, and style with my clients.” 

Oakley only starts designing after laying all of this groundwork. “The design process is the most intensive park for me. I like to take four weeks for this part because it needs a lot of space for ideas and intensive sensing,” she says. “During the process, I test the functionality of the logo and design on business cards, letterhead, and other media so that I always keep everything in view. I’m also in constant contact with the client.”

The design is effective when it feels right. “It should convey the client’s values and vision and meet the right aesthetic standards,” she says. This intense process requires strategic work/life balance. “I do ten minutes of yoga every morning and walk my dog a lot,” she says. “These things keep my mind clear. I am lucky to have a great family, including my wonderful husband and amazing nine-year-old daughter.” 

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