To Top

Meet Aron Gagliardo of Design AGO in South Suburbs

Today we’d like to introduce you to Aron Gagliardo.

Aron, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Looking back, it seems like I have always been a designer. Rearranging things until they were just right. Its part obsessive compulsive behavior and part perfectionism. Inspiration came from my youth in a small town during the 1970’s & 80’s. From the corner grocery to the VHS rental store, eye candy was everywhere. The toys, packaging, album covers & movies, all had an indelible impact. Put that in a blender with the best contemporary graphic design and you’ve got me.

I have a BFA in graphic design from the American Academy of Art where I also worked for many years. There, I had the opportunity to build friendships and learn from hundreds of artists who passed through the school. Recently, I started my own business, Design AGO.

Today, it’s all about communicating quickly and making an impression on the ideal client. Not everyone will like what you do, nor should they. Design is about attracting the right people. I don’t believe in boring. I do believe in speaking to an audience and not at them. Trying something different, being real and creating something beautiful and unique, like a rock star. Great brands aren’t born, they’re created.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It can be intimidating to go out on your own as a freelancer. The security of full time employment keeps so many people in jobs they hate. You have to ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen”? The biggest struggle you may face is taking that first step. Prepare yourself the best you can by always working at your craft, listening, reading, asking for advice and getting actual clients.

One thing I learned early on is that you need to always keep looking for work. Even when things are busy, you’ve got 3 projects on your desk and the money is good. Remember, once you finish those where is your next job coming from? So look for work even when you don’t need it.

Here’s a few more pieces of advice.

1. Meet your heroes. If you like someone’s work, contact them. Ask for advice, a relationship or opportunity can develop and you’ll benefit from their knowledge. You probably won’t get Beyoncé to email you back so start smaller. Referrals are still some of the best publicity you can get.

2. Only 5% of people will call you back.

3. Create something every day.

4. Keep it simple. Edit some more. Attention spans are short.

5. Drop the jargon.

6. Sell what is unique about you.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Design AGO – what should we know?
My business is called Design AGO. (AGO being a shortened version of my last name Gagliardo). I specialize in websites, logos, branding and print design for Entertainers, Entrepreneurs and Art Schools.

There is no greater feeling than creating a new design or identity for my clients. After 20 years I still get excited about building something that best represents their vision and attracts the right client. You need to be different. Something we’ve never seen.

I work with entertainers, entrepreneurs and art schools that have something unique to offer, have a strong vision and aren’t afraid to take risks. You’ve got a business to run and work to do. This is where I come in. More than ever, GOOD design matters.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My wife, LaWanda, has been my biggest supporter and cheerleader. Our son, Anden, is a constant source of inspiration in that I want to set an example that you can do whatever you want. Follow your dream, follow your heart and follow your gut. And I’m also fortunate to have wonderful parents that encouraged my artwork early on and have provided a lifetime of love and support.

One of my most important mentors in taking the leap is Pia Silva. Pia is an author, instructor, speaker and, with her husband Steve, they run Worst of all Design, a hugely successful design and branding business. I had listened to dozens of designers talk but she had the most unique advice on how to “badass your brand”. She taught me how to stand out, how to turn my expertise into profit and gave me the confidence to go out on my own. I was fortunate enough to take a class with her and her book Badass your Brand is essential to anyone who is or wants to be a small business owner.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Adam Biba

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in