PRESIDENT/CHIEF STRATEGIST, RETAIL VOODOO
Armed with a passion for ideology-driven companies and over 25 years of industry experience, David Lemley focuses his energy on leveraging design thinking and brand strategy, empowering clients to achieve their brand’s goals. As president of Retail Voodoo, David sets the standard for all research, brand strategy, brand positioning and design development for the firm. He spends most of his time working with brands that share the following: they are enlightened, sustainability-minded do-gooders hell-bent on being a force for good. Clients include: Brooks, DRY Soda, Essentia Water, KIND, PCC Natural Markets, Sahale Snacks, Walmart, Wedderspoon
WHERE WERE YOU BORN AND WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW?
Born in Vegas… Live in Seattle
DID YOU GO TO DESIGN SCHOOL?
Yes. Art Institute of Seattle
LEFTY OR RIGHTY?
MORNING PERSON OR NIGHT OWL?
Early career I was a night owl… addicted to the adrenaline that fear of failure produces. As I became more intentional about my career, I consciously chose a shift to the morning, in order to be more available to my clients and team members.
FICTIONAL OR HISTORICAL CHARACTER YOU IDENTIFY WITH?
In Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Bluebeard – Rabo Karabekian. I identify with him because he is always finding himself on the bleeding edge of his career (in art) at a time when his classical training makes him an oddball. Reality continuously gets in the way of his ideal career. Ultimately, he stops trying to become a someone in the art world and instead lets himself be a human that makes art.
ARE YOU MUSICAL AND/OR PLAY AN INSTRUMENT?
I love to sing, but am not a natural, I played guitar in school, and am learning to play piano now.
Jitterbug Perfume… “THE BEET IS THE MOST INTENSE of vegetables. The radish, admittedly … Perhaps it is mangel-wurzel that we see in Rasputin. Certainly there …”
The Book of Eli
FAVORITE TV BINGE WATCH?
The Good Place
FAVORITE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM?
FAVORITE FINE ARTIST?
FAVORITE CHARITY OR CAUSE?
Children, hunger, social justice
FAVORITE FREE TIME ACTIVITY?
Painting, abstract expressionism with the meaning still intact. (Encaustic collages on canvas and wood panel)
Art Books – I recently acquired an original edition of a Marc Chagall lithographs book from 1969
WHICH AREA OF GRAPHIC DESIGN IS GROWING THE MOST (E.G., PRINT, PACKAGE, WEB, UX, VIDEO, ETC)?
I never answer a question with an absolute unless there is data… According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, graphic design is anticipated to grow more slowly than most other employment sectors over the next decade due to intense competition. That said, Amazon has about 3,000 openings for designers, so my guess is UX.
So many, but here are some foundational mentors…
Fred Griffin (college prof) taught me everything about design.
Anton Kimball gave me the courage to let my freak flag fly – and permission to not be the next version of him.
Tim Girvin and Modern Dog Design Co. gave me the courage to put a brush in my hand and call it design.
Brendan Potash helped me to become a producer.
Scott Bedbury and Wright Massey taught me how to take a punch and get back up.
Matthew Loyd taught me how to “rock at humility.”
Yuri Shvets taught me how to really speak English.
Robb Ginter taught me how to manage a crowded boardroom.
Robert Raible taught me that compassion is contagious.
The list goes on to this day…
GREATEST STRENGTH/WEAKNESS AS A DESIGNER?
My greatest strength is having a beginner’s mind… it assures me that I will not have the answer going into the assignment. This is important because it frees me up to enjoy the journey of discovery and distillation. My weakness is that (some days) I believe that I have seen it all before.
ADVICE TO A YOUNG DESIGNER JUST STARTING OUT?
Study the world of business – without being able to communicate with people in it, you will be relegated to the “decorator.” Problem-solving skills beat personal style.
IF YOU WERE NOT A DESIGNER, WHAT WOULD YOU BE?
A MANTRA OR SAYING YOU LIVE BY?
The only Zen you find at the top of the mountain is the Zen you bring yourself.