Making Connections: WS Journal
Making connections: Airtype Studio offers web development, design services for products they believe in.
By: Caroline Edgeton | Special correspondent | Winston-Salem Journal
The guys at Airtype Studio won’t take on just any client. The creative branding studio isn’t looking for big company projects or trying to rack up a huge number of clients.
What they are looking for is a connection.
“If we’re not into a company or what they’re trying to sell, it’s not satisfying for us and our work will reflect that,” said Ryan Kelly, project manager of Airtype Studio. “We form long relationships with our clients, so we can’t work with a client that provides something we don’t like.
“We’re a little different from bigger groups; we’re not better, they’re not better, just different.”
The six-person studio works with businesses that are looking for a more cutting-edge appearance. Airtype can assist with Web development, graphic design and, overall, enhancing a company or a company’s product’s visual perspective.
“We make it our job to apply the most useful Web technologies to provide seamless design solutions,” Kelly said.
But, most important: “We’ll take any project that sounds like fun and isn’t boring,” he said.
For example, one of Airtype’s current endeavors is an apparel line called Camel City Goods, which reflects the team members’ fascination with the heritage of Winston-Salem. They’ve got a T-shirt that reads, “Winston Salem: Happy Together Since 1913” as well as one that says “Home of the Original Empire State Building.”
Airtype is at Brookstown Avenue and Burke Street, nestled discreetly in a newly renovated building that was built in 1908. In fact, Bryan Ledbetter, founder and owner of Airtype, was the foreman and designer of the renovation project that began in 2011.
“Over the past five or six years, things are happening I didn’t even expect to see happen,” Ledbetter said. “I always tell people when I started Airtype, I didn’t have a vision of what I wanted it to be, I had a vision of what I never wanted it to be.”
The company has won a number of awards and picked up a variety of clients since Ledbetter founded it in 2005.
It all began because Ledbetter’s band needed a website. He had spent some time working in advertising for publications and was in a band based in the Asheville area for a few years. Not long after designing the band’s website, he started Airtype out of his basement.
His first client was Piedmont Distillers, a distillery in Madison that specializes in moonshine.
According to Joe Michalek and Sarah LeRoy at Piedmont Distillers, Airtype has been closely intertwined with the success of their business.
“Airtype are fantastic partners to Piedmont Distillers,” LeRoy said. “We’ve worked with Bryan and the rest of the gang since the inception of the distillery in 2005. I can’t imagine a day when they aren’t a part of the team.”
In addition to the company’s small size, another thing that sets Airtype apart from other creative agencies is that there is no rule or model; all the guys work together on projects. Everyone who works there just wants to make some neat stuff for clients, they said. And by neat stuff they mean high-end, high tech, creative, visual solutions.
“The reason I’m working here is because nobody else does the kind of Web work we do in the area,” Kelly said. “Staying on top of technology and keeping up with visual trends is our strong suit.”
Everyone who is employed at Airtype is a self-taught professional. Dwayne Mitchell, studio manager, was picked up by Ledbetter simply because he hadn’t had experience specific to a creative design group.
“He brings something different to the table,” Ledbetter said. “We are a dysfunctional group that isn’t the right fit for everyone, but the way we streamline projects, the way we work together is what makes us good at what we do.”