The most frequent question I am asked, as part of the [AQFG]
series, is a variation of, “What logo design advice would you give to a new designer wanting to try their hand at designing logos and brand identities?”
I have always been stumped as how to answer it’s such a massively broad subject to answer.
Then, one day over Christmas, it just occurred to me how I could best answer this sort of question. It’s not THE answer, but just one of many, but I do know it’s a solid tip.
My tip? If you are seeking a career as a designer, in any particular discipline, it would be to familiarise yourself, understand and respect the very nature of commercial process printing.
You could certainly focus and specialise on logo designs for screen, but you could be selling yourself way short as well as becoming a little bored in time.
Diversity, or lack of, can make or break your own sense of self fulfilment and motivation.
Stating for the record; should you want to try your hand at identity design you will undoubtedly need to have knowledge and understanding of: commercial printing, reprographics and commercial print finishing
Designing for the screen is such a tiny part of this much broader discipline. If you plan to take on paid client projects that culminate in commercial printing, without adequate knowledge and understanding of the print process, then you are truly running the risk of an undesirable, and maybe, costly ending.
I consider myself very fortunate to have been given a very valuable start as my career was kick-started with an apprenticeship in commercial print, paste-up, plate-making and photography before moving onto typesetting and DTP (Desk Top Publishing).
Of course not everyone can arrange to get this level of on-the-job training, but you can certainly facilitate the growth of knowledge by immersing yourself in the theory, and practical applications of commercial print and reprographics. Reprographics is a general term encompassing multiple methods of reproducing content, such as: scanning, photography, xerography, digital printing, film and plate output. The term applies to both physical (hard copy) and digital (soft copy) reproductions of documents and images.
If you do plan to pursue a career in logo and brand identity then you absolutely will need to grasp the concept, and application of, commercial print and reprography.
To ensure you can offer your clients a truly rounded service then you also need to look at the intricate, and often misunderstood, workings of print finishing.
Print finishing is usually the last physical stage of a commercial print run and can provide those finishing—no pun intended—touches that set apart a regular print job from a truly unregular and bespoke design/print job. Print finishing is often overlooked as unimportant, but couldn’t be further from the truth. It provides the trimming, gluing, stapling, organising, embossing, laminating, Spot-UV’ing, mounting, image transfer, die-cutting and other forms of specialised processes.
If you have no idea of what can be achieved, or as importantly what can’t be achieved, through all the many combinations available via commercial print and print finishing, then you could never hope to offer a truly diverse and rounded service to your clients.
Raising More Questions
Designing logos just for the screen will keep you busy for a while, but you will almost certainly want to explore the creatively satisfying options made possible through an understanding of reprographics, printing and finishing.
I appreciate this post, in all likely hood, has now raised more questions than answered. And well it should. Logo and brand identity design is just part of a much larger picture where knowledge of what the other cogs in the machine do will help you enormously.
But don’t be put off by my bluntness.
Would it surprise you to know I didn’t do any kind of art or design at higher education level? Knowledge is one part of it, but how you get that knowledge is completely down to how much you want to succeed. I know from personal experience that sufficient practical experience can help get you where you want to be. If you hear anyone tell you differently, just because you didn’t do that design course at University, then just tell them “poppycock” and point them to me. I’ll happily put them in their place.
So if all this means you need to put in a few hours at your local printers to see just how it all comes together, then that is what you need to do. There really isn’t a quick fix: time, resourcefullness and an eagerness can work for you.
Further Exploration Thereof
This is a subject I will explore more in future posts. What I do hope though is that you will start to think in broader terms when contemplating the art of logo and brand identity design. There are numerous books available that will help you steer you in the right direction
If you have a question that you would like to see answered in a [AQFG] post like this, then please do send me an email and I will certainly try my best to answer it for you.