Subscribe to the Blog with or | Post Updated: August 9th, 2017 | 1st Posted: August 9, 2017
Posted by: Graham Smith in Categories: Designer Spotlight, Freelance
These 16 Achievement Stickers for Freelance Logo Designers, designed by Jeremy Nguyen, are gloriously happy, and bright.
They actually made me smile, which is a rare thing nowadays, and the topics covered in these Achievement Stickers, are so completely relatable: Didn't forget to Save!, Got Paid, I Followed Up!, Talked to Someone in Person Today!
A few I don't have problems with, such as: Sleep, Finished before 1am and Went Outside, but on the whole, all relevant.
These were featured on The New Yorker, and obviously has been spreading quite quickly over the web, so nice job Mr Jeremy Nguyen.
Here are a few of the stickers, the whole collection can be seen over on The New Yorker:
16 Achievement Stickers for Freelance Logo Designers
16 Achievement Stickers Designed by
Subscribe to the Blog with or | Post Updated: September 14th, 2016 | 1st Posted: March 9, 2015
Posted by: Graham Smith in Categories: Freelance, Opinion, Tips & Advice
Freelance Logo Designers
Just a wee snippet of a post, but when I read this recent client enquiry for a logo design the matter-of-fact way in which it was worded just made me pause.
On my Logo Design Brief and Logo Design Enquiries form, I have a box where the client can indicate where they might have found me/come across me, and more often than not it is usually some kind of Google search, no big surprise really. But this particular one just hit me with the phrasing, "It is actually surprisingly difficult to find a professional designer outside the "big" sites of 99designs, Crowdspring, etc."
Again, I don't think that's actually a big surprise to any of us freelance logo designers, but to just read it like this from a client really highlighted how these 'big' sites are sucking the lively hood of far more talented, and worthy designers, not to mention leading clients on a probably route to unprofessional and sub-standard work etc.
Just to note: Back in the day, I was once a newbie freelance logo designer on sites like 99Designs and Crowdspring, trying to forge a name and portfolio for myself. With this hindsight and experience, I feel quite comfortable telling it how it is.
It's still a shame, but a reality we have to deal with, or fade into obscurity.
These crowdsources websites are going to continue devaluing various disciplines of the graphic design industry, and we as freelance logo designers, who rely on our on logo design portfolio, self marketing and advertising, social media, and Google rankings etc, must continue to plod on unabated.
Subscribe to the Blog with or | Post Updated: September 14th, 2016 | 1st Posted: May 15, 2014
Posted by: Graham Smith in Categories: Brand Identity, Freelance, Portfolio
Kerr Recruitment Logo and Brand Identity ReDesign
Portfolio Update: I'm fortunate to be collaborating with Positive Advertising on this project for Kerr Recruitment. This logo and brand identity redesign project is still currently in development, but I'm happy to share the process so far of this logo and brand identity redesign.
The images detail some of the extensive mock-ups, and mood-boards, that I designed for Kerr Recruitment. This was a project where only this one main logo idea was worked-up and presented to the client, hence the need to provide the client a visual way to see the true potential of the design.
The mock-ups are based on Kerr's current applications of the logo and brand identity, additional requests by the client as part of the redesign, but also more ambitious exterior applications like the billboard, and the interior brushed metal sign.
All these mock-ups allow the client to better visualise how the logo and the supporting identity materials could be used in various practical and physical applications.
Subscribe to the Blog with or | Post Updated: September 14th, 2016 | 1st Posted: April 22, 2014
Posted by: Graham Smith in Categories: Brand Identity, Freelance, Opinion, Portfolio, Tips & Advice
Being a freelance logo designer, or any other designer for that matter, we often see our fair share of NDA's—what is an NDA: Non-Disclosure Agreement?—that are dispatched by way of potential clients. Signing an NDA doesn't mean you got the job, far from it, just means you are being entrusted with some potentially valuable information.
Do I Need to Sign an NDA?
You don't have to sign an NDA, but the chances are you'll not be considered for whatever project is up for grabs.
I've always thoroughly read each and every NDA that has come my way, and generally been happy to sign my acceptance of said NDA. I do often think they are sometimes a little overkill given some of the projects I have actually seen associated with them, but that's just a side thought.
I think it's generally too easy to get sucked into a one-way way of thinking when given an NDA, especially when a freelance logo designer might be perceived as a walk-over in some regards: that this form is do or die, and that one just has to go with the flow, regardless of any inconvenience the client may cause later down the line.
You know the drill: you get a lead and the project looks great, but the client requests an NDA is signed before any information pertaining to the brief is shared. You're keen to get the job, so you fill the NDA in, and hope for the best.
Can an NDA Cause Me Problems?
If you don't fully read and understand what NDA is for, and to what you are giving your signature too, then sure, conflicts or problems could arise.
What you might not be aware of, is that the NDA may actually contain aspects that contradict your own work guidelines, ethics and even Terms & Conditions.
Sure, you might be aware of certain inconveniences, if you read the NDA, and you might be OK taking a little hit with procedure just to land this job. Hell, it might be quite a major inconvenience, but you have at least given it some thought and made a decision to suck it and see.
Sharing an Experience with an NDA
Just going to share a little story that lead me to think more pro-actively about my own position as a freelance logo designer, before blindly signing any more client NDA's.
I came across a project that started out very well, and an NDA was read and signed by myself. The client also, presumably, read my own Terms and Conditions (I always ask for a signed form stating they accept my Terms), and was equally content.
The deposit was paid, and we started work.
Long and short of it was that the client didn't pay the balance. Now this meant that I was pissed, but it also meant a grey line had been forged in the virtual sand, as this suddenly opened up a myriad of thoughts and options for me. What trumped what? Did the NDA trump my own client signed ToC's, or that the client signing my own ToC's meant they were equally, and legally bound?
The terms in the NDA that I signed, and my terms that they signed, obviously now posed somewhat of a challenge, as they were completely at odd's with each other. I strongly believed that I held the higher moral ground because they had simply not paid for a logo design that I had completed, and that they were now using.
I'll just go ahead and assume, somewhat cynically, that they counted on their NDA posing a challenging situation for me to reel in.
An assumption they might have made was that I couldn't make a fuss over this, say for example by: blogging and naming about a client who didn't pay for the completed logo design, was that the NDA simply forbade me to discuss any part of the project. Fair enough I guess.
However, my own terms (that they signed) clearly explained that I would be free to: resell, blog, display in my portfolio, submit to external logo gallery websites, to repurpose the logo for another client, etc, if at any point the final balance was not forthcoming.
Long Story Cut VERY Short
Any who, with some colourful exchanges, and me sticking very firmly to what I believed was morally right, even if not 100% legally right, I managed to 'persuade' this client that it was more useful and valuable for them to pay-up, than suffer at the hands of one of my massive social media outpourings. No threats were made, just relied on some common sense assumptions being made.
They had far too much to risk to play that poker game with me.
You Can Negotiate Changes Within the NDA
Don't assume the Non-Disclosure Agreement is an impenetrable force, and can't be revised: if the client is keen to work with you, but you have some misgivings about the NDA, specifically how it might affect your actual work for the client, then there is a good chance the client will get the NDA revised.
My experience made me realise that I would not just accept every other NDA that came my way—as they are generally pretty much the same in content—and that I would ask for each NDA to be adjusted. When I say 'each NDA', I mean I'll take it on a client-by-client basis, and use my internal Gut-o-meter to smell out any possible problematic client.
This isn't about me ripping on all clients, when it comes to an NDA, that don't abide by the Gentlemanly Rules of Cricket, it's just highlighting the results of one more personal experience that has lead me to practice safe client relations.
The adjustment would introduce a simple addition, simply stating that, in some form or another: if the client did not pay the full invoiced amount when presented with the final invoice, that I would be legally entitled to: discuss the project; reuse, display and promote the work I have designed, all after a 'reasonable' number of invoice reminders for the balance to be paid had been sent, and regardless of if they use the logo design or not, unless otherwise previously agreed.
It's a pretty strong incentive. Not many clients, I think, are asked to reword their NDA, and especially with a change that explicitly lists the possible damages of them not fulfilling their end of the deal.
If any client refuses to add this clause, then I simply walk away. I'm not going to even entertain the idea of signing an NDA with a client who is not prepared to put their signature to a perfectly reasonable amendment.
What's really sad? Is that I had to think about playing this card in the first place.
Take from this what you will. The client wants to protect what's theirs, and I want to protect what's mine. Seems fair and reasonable to meet somewhere in the middle if they insist an NDA is part of the project.
Subscribe to the Blog with or | Post Updated: September 14th, 2016 | 1st Posted: March 20, 2014
Posted by: Graham Smith in Categories: Design Essentials, Flickr, Freelance, Graphic Design, Opinion
That logo designer referenced in the post title is me. Yup. I didn't go to any art or design based further education, and I get royally narked off when I hear creative toff's toot their own ivory horn about how, "one can't be a successful (define successful for a start) designer if one didn't get the appropriate qualifications to show how awesomely creative one is."
Update: Minutes after posting, a few people were exhibiting signs of emotional distress over my apparent blanket dissing of everyone who did experience further creative education. I've not edited the post in guilty response, just appending this little update. I think it's clear that yes, I have a personal problem with only those creatives that say, "if you didn't do further education, you can't make it in the big world.", and this post gives me a personal outlet to address that, for which I am quite entitled.
However, my main motive for the post is to simply explain, by example, that one can forge a creative career without the benefits of further creative education. I see and hear too many tales of talented individuals believing their route to a creative career is all but impossible, because of their lack of further education. My personal anger is directed towards, and at, only those that openly say one can't achieve a creative career, it's not a blanket dismissal of every creative who did achieve academic qualifications. Just wanted to be crystal clear on that…
It's almost like suggesting that mine/our ('our' is in anyone else who is working in design, earning a living and didn't pursue further academic creative education) collective contribution to the graphic design industry is one massive negative waste of time, and is actually harmful to the precious design industry, and makes one feel uneasy in some head-up-your-own ass kind of way.
However, whilst I didn't do creative cool school, I did do a 1 year apprenticeship at Guildford (that only lasted 4 months until the course was abandoned due to the other apprentices dropping out until it was just me) whilst working full-time, since the age of 17, at a commercial printers down here on the South Coast.
All my experience was hands-on, taught and handed-down by the most talented photo typesetters, typographers, paste-up artists, film-planners (those doing 4 colour film planning were beyond revered), platemakers, and all with not one toffing certificate to show for it.
Each one of my full-time jobs within the print and reprographics, design, advertising agencies, from the age of 17-35, was a small, and painfully, slow step-up the career ladder.
I was privileged, and at the same time, ungracefully burdened, with being in the print and designer industry during the 'age and rapid transition of the photo typesetting, producing bromides to be glued on card grids', as the relentless pace of technology such as DTP and the Apple Macintosh LE's and Classic's etc, forced many a craftsmen to lose their jobs, or face a hard road of re-education. I was made redundant at the age of 21, 3 or so years into my 'apprenticeship', because the company was slow to adopt the DTP side of commercial print. That in itself was one of my most significant life lessons…
Natural Creative Talent
I see, on a daily basis, such amazing creative talent coming from teenagers still kicking out their final High School years. What they lack in, oftentimes in technical ability and other useful skills that only come from living life for a few more years, is often gracefully glided over in preference of such amazing natural creativeness.
School wasn't good for me really, not an academic, and only got a GCSE Grade 'C' in Art, for the shame of it. But that's sort of my point, in that natural talent, when forced down a restrictive pipe that aggressively narrows down to such a stressful situation as taking exams, is oftentimes not so beneficial for many types of personality. If you have natural creative talent, then the technical aspects can be self-taught over time, by various methods and not without the personal desire and ambition to do so.
I seriously feel like laughing, or being sick, when I see some supposed creative academic with all the arty diplomas one can receive, dishing out such shoddy logo and brand identity work, both aesthetically, and also technically. I have seen better creative and typographic talent on Dribbble, Behance, Flickr, Pinterest, (from creatives that I know are young—trying hard not to sound patronising—relatively speaking) than on many logo and brand identity city agency portfolios.
I'm SO not saying, or implying, or stating, that further creative education is a waste of time, not at all. However, it certainly isn't the only road that can be taken to pursue a career in graphic design, and lets remember please: many families simply cannot afford to send their 'naturally creative kid' to pursue further creative education!
For those arty know-it-all's that preach this poppycock, you are basically saying that those on low incomes, or those that have other family challenges, that makes it practically impossible to extend a kid's education, you are needlessly, and selfishly crushing desires, dreams and ambition. Or are you too torn up over spending so many years drinking and getting in debt? (classic student cliché and stereotype I know, sorry.)
The Moral of this Fluff?
If you didn't get to extend your education past High School, or even A-levels, it's not a foregone conclusion that you'll never make it as a creative of some kind, be it as an employee, or working for yourself.
Please please, just don't listen to those idiots who preach that you can't be a commercial designer UNLESS you did the arty student boot-camp thing.
All my experience was gained on-the-job, and at home doing freelance design work on the side. Don't be fooled: my apprenticeship was basically non-existent, it only existed in the form of such awfully low wages, BUT, the experience was completely invaluable. I took on a number of full-time jobs in my 20's with such appalling salaries, that one can't help but feel so bloody disheartened, but one also has to see that life often works in logical, detailed and seemingly painfully slow ways.
If you have natural creative talent, or have even yet to fully tap into it, or hell, even realise it yet, go with it if you possibly can. For damn sure, don't be put-off by certain individuals, web-o-zine posts, magazine articles, who say you might as well not bother if you did't get past A-levels.
It really is such degrading poppy-cock.
The one thing I know I can say, hand-on-sincere-heart, is that my technical skills were taught, and handed down, by such master craftsman, that I actually feel so very privileged, and that I'm, and with hindsight, not in any way regretful that I didn't extend my creative academic education.
If you want a career in design, no matter the particular niche/specialist area, it can be done off your own back, if you have the heart, passion and commitment.
Subscribe to the Blog with or | Post Updated: September 14th, 2016 | 1st Posted: December 18, 2012
Posted by: Graham Smith in Categories: Books, Design Essentials, Flickr, Freelance, Resources
Designer Expenses: What Do You Claim For?
Been very busy with client work of late, and so I decided to cut back on elements of blogging and twitteresque activities in order to better focus on the job at hand.
With that has come a nice sense of freedom and clarity, as well as leaving more time to deal with the annual accounts of a self-employed logo designer. I have nearly managed to get my accounts done in time for Christmas, which compared to last year is a massive improvement. Last year my poor accountant got my accounts around the 27th January!
This time round I have focused a lot more on 'expenses' and being quite rigorous with what I can claim as an 'expense'.
So, I'm somewhat curious, as a self-employed/freelance designer: what sort of things do YOU claim legitimate expenses for? Feel free to leave comments below as a helpful list for others.
Some things I have added to my 'expenses':
• Paypal Fee's
• International SWIFT/CHAP's process fee's
• Portion of household and premise utility bills (work from home)
• Studio refurbishment (3rd bedroom): decorating materials etc.
• Certain car expenses: mileage, parking, partial cost of buying car etc.
• Client work and consultation.
• Accountancy book keeping fee's. NOT preparation of tax returns!
• Advertising & Marketing: imjustcreative branded printing and stationery costs etc.
• Books & research: Self tuition/learning/training costs
• Computer Equipment & accessories
• Mobile phone bills
• BT Broadband bills
• Stationery & Postage
• Occasional client related expenses: meals, travel etc.
• Directory submission costs: logo galleries etc.
• Hosting & domains: 123-Reg, York Networks
• Web app subscriptions: Freshbooks, Vaultpress, Cage, Flickr, Evernote etc
• Application, software & typeface purchases for: Macintosh, iPhone and Android
Subscribe to the Blog with or | Post Updated: May 9th, 2014 | 1st Posted: May 11, 2012
Posted by: Graham Smith in Categories: Designer Spotlight, Freelance, Graphic Design, helvetica, Inspiration, Logo Process, Photography
Here we go with Part 17 of the Logo Design Round-Up, and you can catch-up with Part 16 Logo Design Round-Up. As with Part 16 I am really chuffed to see so many designers submitting their own brand logo designs for this logo design round-up series. Read how I butchered Helvetica to create my own logo design.
Please note that all submissions are included as this series isn't a best-of, or some elitist logo display. In this post the logos are displayed in alphabetical order.
If you have your own brand logo for your creative business then you are welcome to be part of this logo design series.
If you would like to join the fun and have your own brand logo showcased with a written description then flick through this post: Submit Your Logo For Logo Design Round-Up Series
All there is to do now is present ten of your logo designs with some juicy descriptions to boot. Enjoy.
I have taken the liberty of pinning all the logos to Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/imjustcreative/logo-design-round-up as well as adding a Pin button to each and every logo design featured.
Logo Design Round-Up Part 16
Chris Beaumont: Beaumont Design: Logo & Brand Identity Design — http://dribbble.com/Beaumontdesign
This is my current logo to represent me as a freelance designer. I have recently finished a redesign of it which involved tweaking it's proportions, adding the use of the golden ratio and softening the points making it easier on the eye. The result of changes also allowed it to look more balanced when combined with text as well as working better at smaller sizes.
The Mark is a combination of the tip of a pencil and the use of negative space to represent snowfall at the top of a mountain. The reason for this is that my surname, Beaumont, means 'beautiful mountain' in French.
The font I use is Novecento wide in both bold and normal weight. I chose this font as it is a very crisp font with a minimalist style that would transfer the information needed without drawing the attention away from the mark.
The colour scheme is a basic black and white to allow the negative space on the mark to really appear like crisp white snow and to conform with the minimalist style of the rest of the branding.
Constantinos Dobrovolski: cutdsgn — logo & brand identity design — http://cutdsgn.com
While still on my 3rd year as a Graphic & Advertising Design student, i was looking for a «cool» brand name (since my actual name is kinda difficult to be read/pronounced) that would be affiliated with simplicity and minimalism, as design styles. Since i love the process of subtraction in my work, i ended with the word «cut» & «dsgn», which brought me finally to «cutdsgn». The best part is that the initial letters of the two words, are the respectively initials of my full name.
The actual logo process lasted for a few months of brainstorming, sketching and design on my free time. I have to admit it although, if i would be my own client, i would tie a rock to my neck and i'd throw myself into the bottom of the sea. Yeah, the process hurt a lot since i didn't put a deadline or any design restriction from the beginning.
After a long time, i decided that my goal would be to design a logo mark that would represent «cut» in a minimal way and on the other hand, it would combine the initials of the two words. Being a fan of the «Smith» style, i ended up with a square logo mark that contains in negative space the «c» & «d» characters, that stand from each other with the use of two «cuts». The typeface i used for the naming is a slightly edited Breuer Text Bold, which in my mind it could be the modern child of Helvetica & Din families.
For the moment, i use a neutral grayish color palette which to be honest, it suits me as a personality; although a new color scheme is not impossible to be developed, parallel with the actual website design. Concluding, i'm quite pleased and probably proud with myself as i managed to present an overview of my personality as a designer and as a character into such a simple logo.
David Bauer - David Bauer Photography Design
I love minimal and clean design so I knew from the start that my logo would have to reflect that. And since I'm using my name as the name of the company I wanted to include my initials into the design. It did not have to really say anything about what I'm doing but it would have to be usable as a standalone symbol and/or watermark.
I've gone trough like 10 different ideas in the last few months and finally this one grew on me. One day I just flipped my initials to the vertical and there it was! And I was quite surprised to see some things that go together well - a smiling face, 'Victory' sign and a computer mouse. And I'm sure I will find more things in this symbol over the time.
Searching for the right font took me even longer and I finally settled with one of the cleanest ones - Gotham (still have a possible runner up - Avenir). It was used for all the typography as well as for the symbol.
Everything is just black&white at the moment. I'm still working on my website so if there will be any colors, they can be also implemented into this logo.
Eric Coddington: Graphic Designer — http://ericcoddington.com
When it comes to designing for a client I am very focused, straight forward, and on target. Like every other designer I am definitely my own worst critic, which had lead me in the past to be very schizophrenic when designing for myself. Not knowing what aspects of my personality, or style to highlight. I've used so many personal logos over the past 10 years I've lost count.
When I recently moved to a new city (Portland, OR) I decided I need to start fresh again, but this time I needed to create a personal brand that really showed who I am. Not what I like to design, not what I want to be or become, but something that is just me.
Then it hit me, nothing is more me - than me! At that moment of realization I knew my logo was done, and I didn't even design it, my mom did, with her Polaroid camera, in the early 80's. Whether you know my logo Is a photo of me jumping off the living room chair or not, it doesn't matter. You can feel that person in the logo. It's someone you know, or more likely than not, it was you at some point in your life. And at my core, that's who I am still today… just bigger.
Now, when handing out my business cards to potential clients, no previous logo has had the success at breaking the ice as this one has. It makes them not only want to know about what I do, but also who I am. It gives potential clients a sense of familiarity with me. It's an instant relationship builder. And at its essence, isn't that all a logo really is, a relationship builder.
Kelvin Farrell — kelvinwins: graphic/web designer — http://kelvinwins.com
I've found nothing more difficult than designing a logo to promote myself as a designer. I could never settle on anything that I felt truly portrayed me in the right light. To be honest, I hadn't even settled on a name for a long time after I'd started designing - I was just using my personal name.
What kicked off my thinking was a jokey phrase that my then-housemate used to say; "I win at life". I thought nothing of it at the time but eventually it creeped in to my vocabulary and I'd mix it up by saying things like "I win at cooking/football/watching TV etc." One night I replied to someone by saying "I win at design", and that's how I initially came up with my brand and domain name, kelvinwins.
From there it was pretty simple to come up with my logo. The idea of playing on that 'win' phrase was all too tempting. I thought of a range of ways of doing it; trophies, medals, podium, but eventually settled on a ribbon/badge as it was a bit more understated. I didn't want to come across as arrogant, which I felt some of the other ideas could have.
The logo has been through a bit of development and has evolved across it's life. Recently I've refined it, given it a bolder font (Frutiger LT 95 Ultra Black) and made it single colour. I'm very happy with it in it's current form. It's cheeky, but more in a fun manner, rather than anything unprofessional.
Lisa Dale: Graphic Designer — http://lisamariedale.tumblr.com
My logo came about during an exercise on self promotion and I was having such a nightmare thinking of what to design for myself. Seems silly really when you cant think of how to design for yourself but when working with clients the job seems much more straight forward. I looked around me for inspiration at the time and decided that my logo had to say something about me and my personal style within design.
The idea came from my love for Typography which keeps growing, and my logo has a handwritten feel to it which was deliberate and inspired me at the time. The font I used is called Stars From Our Eyes. This font is perfect for my self promotion as my work has a more personal feel to it, like the hand rendered effect from the font.
I have a keen eye for colour and the colour I chose for the typeface is a pastel calm soothing colour. This does not mean to say I wont use vibrant bright colours in my design! My work has a consistent colour theme in terms of light shades and delicate colours. Each colour compliments the other and balances the type perfectly. The good thing about this logo is it works just as well reversed in black and white, and when I see this logo it may appear to be simple and not much thought has gone into the idea but for me its legible, adaptable on all media and professional.
These are the things I want my logo to say about myself. Altogether the logo probably took me a total of two months because I could not find my direction at first. The process was difficult and I found myself questioning at times whether this logo was really me but now it is a working logo I couldn't be more happier with the outcome.
Mat Ranson & Izabella Bielawksa – Mandala Studio: Art Direction, Design & Branding – http://mandalastudio.net
As most designers can attest, branding yourself is difficult. It quickly becomes clear that you are the best and worst person to do it. You're the best person because you know your business intimately and will spend as much time as necessary on it. You're the worst person because without factors to ring-fence the process (namely self-discipline, a budget and a finite amount of time) it will never be finished. But, we knew this and so we tried hard not to fall into the trap.
So we went through a quick rejection process to arrive at the name and the logo:
• Instinctively, we both wanted to use a basic shape for the logo: either a square or a circle
• We wanted the word Labyrinth, so that was the original concept, and the shape could be square
• We're based in Asia so 'Labyrinth' didn't feel like a word people would be familiar with
• Mandalas feel like the Eastern equivalent of Labyrinths
If you are not familiar with mandalas - they are traditional Hindu and Buddhist images which depict the Wheel Of Life. A mandala is essentially a detailed decorative image and they come in many different designs. We weren't personally concerned with the religious connotations so much, more the shape and the pattern potential. We referenced a lot of imagery to draw them - mostly mandala designs of course - but also pattern work from our huge copy of Owen Jones brilliant book 'The Grammar Of Ornament'.
The type went through a few iterations. We wanted the mandala as the focus, with type that balanced it. Originally we had chosen Erik Spiekermann's Officina Serif in caps at quite a small size. But it was dwarfed by the mandala and not a heavy enough weight. We settled on Clarendon because the serif decoration sits well with the vibrant symbols and it is a heavy typeface with a hint of nostalgia, which gives gravity to the two things together.
Mandala Studio is two people and one's favourite colour is sky blue, the other's is blood red. So that was a simple, but important decision on colour. It also means we have front-and-back business cards: one of us on the blue side, the other on the red and we use the blue for non-urgent correspondence like estimates and mail-outs, and the red, of course, for invoices.
Michael Warren: Design + Direction — http://makewithmichael.com
Born with a common name, I knew I would have to anchor my brand with a strong symbol. Not only did I want the design to be minimal, simple and easy to read, but I wanted it to reflect the type of work that I produce.
My initials - MW - have many interesting features that helped me glean design cues. Toying with shapes and pattern reflections, I wanted to convey my brand-mark using four simple triangles that would outline the “m” and “w”.
Offset for the quirkiness and creativity of my work, I managed to merge the triangular shapes into a stylized, yet easy to read, symbol of my initials. However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for me during the design process. In seeing that the triangles were pointed, it made my design feel too aggressive, so I added subtle hints of rounded edges to help soften up the symbol.
I wanted to keep my brand in black & white to convey professionalism and minimalism, so the symbol stayed in it’s native conception color. The typeface I use to accompany my brand is Din, for it perfectly complements the modern feel of my symbol, with a nice touch of friendliness.
Rick Raby: Graphic Designer & Student — http://rickraby.tumblr.com
I came up with the logo when I first started my FdA, I was probably no more than 2 months into the course. I was sat in a contextual studies lecture and instead of taking notes I though I'd do some doodling. That night, I went back to my flat and made it in illustrator and I've stuck with it ever since.
The logo is just my initials (My full name is Richard Adam Raby) but it's clean and I love that about it. At the time, I didn't know much about fonts and all I really wanted was one with straight legs for the R's, so I went for Akzidenz Grotesk. At the time that choice didn't really mean to much to me but ever since I've had a tendency to use this type of modernist typeface - I use DinPro throughout my stationary and on every presentation I've made in the last year.
The colour of the logo is a bit of a funny one. When I first started putting work on my blog, it was all converted from CMYK to RGB, so the black was never a proper screen black but I always liked that for some reason. So ever since I've been using this 94% CMYK black in my logo and stationary. It also turns out that its the same colour as the default background in Acrobat Pro - and yes, I did have a mini panic when I found this out and wondered where half my PDF had gone.
Paul Attard: Graphic Design — http://wearegoat.com
Goat is a small design studio based in London, made up of myself and my Russian colleague.
I'll first have to start out with the naming of the studio; to cut a long story short, my colleagues surname is Golev and mine is Attard. We started working on project while still studying at University and felt that we had a very good back and forth so decided to create a name for the collective. We chose to call it goat as a combination of the two surnames put together symbolising the connection of two halves joining together to create a whole entity.
With the name out of the way it was time to start the long process of self-branding, which somehow feels like the hardest job. We settled on the font LTC Twentieth Century which is basically Futura with some fancy alternatives thrown in. We were looking for this slight peculiarity in a font and LTC Twentieth Century just seemed to have something we both completely agreed upon.
We then wanted to include a feature to draw attention to the two separate halves, which later came in the form of the yellow line down the middle. It works in two ways; firstly the separation down the middle, which we then incorporated into all aspects of our brand. Secondly it was inspired by the peculiar pupils of a goat's eye.
With everything put together the final touch was the yellow colour which was decided upon due to the vibrance of yellow. It is a nice contrast from the black and adds something small that stands out.
Wouter Buning: vormverteller —brand identity designer – http://wouterbuning.nl
As a young creative professional I believed working under one’s own name was a sign of uncreativity: a creative person should have a creative brand name. And I was convinced that potential clients would take a corporate brand more serious. I wanted to stay away from the ’21-year-old-working-from-mum-&-dad’s-attic’ image. So for many years I struggled in finding the brand name that suited me well.
I switched the name three or four times (once because of a pending lawsuit...). None of them endured. I never planned on expanding into a business (it always was going to be just me), so at some point I managed to let go of my former prejudices and finally decided using my own name as brand name. It’s been running for 5 years now and I’m still completely happy with it. Even now, my brand identity keeps growing on me.
Since my brand name wasn’t that creative there was room for a creative job description ;D So 2 years ago I invented the title vormverteller. That’s Dutch for ‘shapeteller’ derived from ‘storyteller’.
About the same time I added a few supporting colours to the existing pallet, enabeling me to promote different design services under separate colours. And in an identity project I always like to create a rich black and grey spectrum that fits the main colour, so each brand has it’s own black and greys. I guess that’s just an aspect of my design-lunaticness.
The logo mark is a typographical design solution. The idea was to create one strong shape for my initials, like a graphical/geometric signature, with an interesting balance between round and sharp edges. While I was sketching, I added a hint of 3D movement within a 2D shape. The rotation of the logo mark suggests looking upward and forward, adds some dynamic and I feel it makes the logo optimistic/future minded. I adjusted the ‘w’ to keep a solid base.
A little joke I implemented was a hint to the old ink dip-pens in the shape of the ‘b’. But the funniest thing happened a few months ago, when one of my students came up to me and said he thought the logo mark was a drawing hand: he never saw the initials. How is that for a bonus!
Andy Valde: Graphic Designer — http://StoneSoup3.com
Hi! My name is Andy Valde and I am a graphic designer for my company Stone Soup 3. Below is the description of our company and we can be found at StoneSoup3.com
“Stone Soup” originated as a French tale about 3 soldiers returning home from the Napoleonic Wars. They arrive at a village where they quickly learn that, because of war times, the villages are unwilling to share, trade or sell any food or supplied. So the Soldiers decide to bring an empty pot to the village square, fill it with water, place it over a fire and drop a large stone into the pot. One villager becomes curious and asks them what they are doing. They explain that they are making Stone Soup even though some potatoes would really make the soup taste much better. After hearing this, the villager decides they have some potatoes to spare. He brings the potatoes and drops them into the pot. As he does this, other villagers follow and contribute what they have.
This is a story of people coming together to reach an over all goal. This is exactly what our company Stone Soup 3 is. Each one of us contributes individually with our expertise to an overall goal. This way we help our clients, like the soldiers from the story, achieve success for their company. The number three at the end of our logo signifies our company trinity: Audience, Concept, Execution. Eric Lamkins, Heather Murray, and Andy Valde are the current contributors to the overall pot of creativity and execution. Learn more about us by visiting StoneSoup3.com.
Subscribe to the Blog with or | Post Updated: May 9th, 2014 | 1st Posted: March 29, 2011
Posted by: Graham Smith in Categories: Books, Brand Identity, Free Fonts, Freelance, Inspiration, Logo Process, Opinion, Portfolio, Resources
It's no secret I enjoy writing on my website as well as sharing all I know with various tips and resources.
There are a fair few articles tucked away within my blog–I like to think have some pretty cool and useful things to share: templates to download, logo process articles, free fonts and my own thoughts and ramblings–and it would be safe to assume enough to write a small book.
Given that I have only been seriously freelancing since around January 2010, it was quite a shock when in the early part of 2010 and within a four month period I was approached by three publishers to author a book on logo design.
imjustcreative [now refered to as ijc]–my website, portfolio, blog and shop front–has been up for about three years or so. The very early days comprised of a methodical plan to build the freelance me up; ideally using my skills gained in advertising and marketing to establish a reasonable reputation and platform from which to hook in clients.
Having a fair number of years of commercial experience behind me is no doubt useful when you are considering the switch to freelancing. When you make that switch it can often mean having to start all over: you are no-one, you have no portfolio and no reputation to speak of. You have to dig-in and get dirty.
To be approached by three publishers was a monumental boost to me; it clearly signalled that I had managed to succeed in some areas of the marketing of ijc. What really blew my mind however was being approached by two publishers within 24 hours of each other.
It's all to easy to yourself to get over absorbed with the incredible intensity of feelings and thoughts that something like this imparts on you. It was staggering. I proceeded to follow up with the first two, but having two offers so close to each was incredibly confusing, really didn't know which way to turn at this point. All I could do was talk with both publishers to find out the exactly what all this would entail and where it would leave me in terms of time and finances.
I had only just officially started freelancing, so building up a client base was paramount to me as well as servicing existing and newly scheduled clients. I certainly wasn't able to rely on client work at this point neither did I have any savings to fall back on.
Writing a book is a huge undertaking, some people manage to keep working their full-time job as well as write a book in their spare time. I am not that person.
There was no way on earth I could manage to keep ijc running at the usual intensity as well as researching and writing a book. This was the onset of a thick blanket of fog riding over me.
What to do?
Having a book under your belt is no doubt a huge boon, it signals that you are an authority on a that subject and will propel you further out than you would otherwise be used to; not to mention just the overall good feeling of confidence and motivational boost having authored a book.
ijc was still being nurtured and I felt very cautious about doing anything that would disrupt the rhythm and flow I had so far managed to build up. I didn't have the luxury of a solid client list, repeat clients or even a sense of believing in myself at this point.
So much to do and so much still to prove.
The harsh reality was that if I took a book on I would have to dial down ijc operations whilst focusing on the book for a period of 4–6 months. Firmly believing that taking a book on would lead to bad times; I still had conflicting thoughts about it.
I really didn't know what to do.
Sleepless nights due to the continual round of thoughts of turning down such a amazing opportunity, it made my skin crawl and I felt boxed in. Logically it felt both wrong and right, emotionally it also felt both wrong and right. This was all so new to me, nothing had prepared me for having to make a seemingly no win decision.
The jealously factor reared it's ugly head; if I turned it down then another designer would be asked and that royaly sucked. I wanted to write this book, I really did.
I thoroughly enjoy writing, it feels natural and I have no problem with finding stuff to write, it all seems to flow out without having to even think about it. When I sit down to write a post I usually only have a rough idea on the subject matter; 30mins later there will be a decent size post and I have no real idea how it all materialised.
ijc had to succeed, there was no room to doubt otherwise.
Over a period of weeks I continued talks with the publishers. The first decision was to decide which publisher to continue talking to. That choice allowed me to focus on the one publisher and we discussed options and ideas over a period of weeks.
At his point I started the book proposal process–even though you might be approached to write a book you otherwise previously had no intention of writing, you still have to sell their idea back to them–as I felt this would give me enough insight into what it would require from me on a emotional and physical level.
After three weeks of working on the proposal and keeping ijc ticking over, I was already super stressed. This was the insight I needed to make a more informed decision.
As hard as it was, I decided to pass up this amazing opportunity to author a book on logo design and focus on building up ijc.
This decision was not just based on being a super stressed Eric, the finances was a determining deal closer. As David Airey has talked about, a book like this is not going to make you a millionaire. Financial reward is negligible, what is more beneficial is having your name linked to a book and this ideally brings in more prestigious clients etc.
Knowing that I could not work both ijc and writing a book, I then had to look at how I would support myself for the duration of the book. The retainer on offer would have lasted just a few months after the mortgage, bills, tax were deducted. It certainly was no where near enough to live on for the duration and would absolutely mean I would also have to take on client work. This was not a situation I wanted to get into, ijc is more than a full-time job, no way I would be able to cope with a book as well.
Just to put stuff into perspective, I suffered a breakdown 5 years ago and my whole life was turned upside-down and inside-out. I had previously worked stupid hours usually for 6-7 days a week in a stressful environment.
With ijc, I absolutely had to manage my health. I knew that keeping ijc ticking over as well as writing a book would be a step to far, avoiding further health problems becomes mandatory at this point in my life. It has taken nearly five years to feel like I am starting to get back on track, I am in no rush to derail myself again through over-work.
To ensure I had made the right decision, I simply made a positive and negative list and the result reassured me that passing the book up was the best thing for me at this time. I was now content with the decision I had made.
Incidentally, the third book offer came through a few months later which meant I was able to make the necessary decision quickly. Being approached to write a book, even when you know you are probably one of many, still gives you motivational boost.
My plan at this time was to keep the idea of writing a book in mind for a time when I would be able to cope with the financial and emotional demands needed.
Now a year on and I am getting the book bug.
I still don't fancy the idea of taking on such a huge commitment and that is mostly out of my control in terms of deadlines and such like. I have a nice life-style that has taken a lot of time and effort to evolve; in no rush to mess that up.
The answer: self publish and write a book on logo design that I can do in my own time whilst making the content and experience all mine. No publisher restraints, no unexpected deadline changes and no pressure or anxiety of feeling out-of-control.
This is my project for the year with a flexible dead-line of October to have the content all thrashed out.
I have a number of ideas for content and nothing has been hard-coded as yet. What I can say is that it will not be a gallery of logo designs, there are plenty of books dedicated to this cause.
I will however showcase a select range of logos from logo designers with applicable text outlining aspects of the logo design process, it's important to me that any logo shown in the book is shown in context. One of the things that lets logo inspiration books down would be the lack of context therefore not providing the context some logo designs need to be fully appreciated.
The style of logo designs I will be seeking to showcase in the book will typically fall close to a style of design close to me.
Other chapters will include: typography in logo design, aspects of freelancing, project management of a logo project, financials, general logo design tips and check-lists, various how-to's, client interaction, thoughts on how to promote and market your self etc. It will hopefully be quite rounded, covering or touching on most parts of a logo project.
I have not quite decided on the format of the book, limit it to digital format or actually print it much in the way iheartlogos have done. My preference would be to print it, I am not a big fan of reading books in ebook format, I much prefer holding and reading a traditional book. The route I will eventually go will depend on certain financial details, so both options are on the cards at this time.
It is very early days, but the plan has been set in motion and I am very much looking forward to the project.
To close, I am looking for your input. If you have any thoughts or suggestions about what a logo design book should contain then please do let me know. With any book, the idea is to write something that people will hopefuly want to read, so the more I can incoporate into based on general feedback, the better for everyone.
Please do leave your thoughts below or email me direct.
Subscribe to the Blog with or | Post Updated: May 9th, 2014 | 1st Posted: October 10, 2010
Posted by: Graham Smith in Categories: Brand Identity, Famous Logos, Freelance, helvetica, Opinion, Vintage
I have been fascinated by this whole GAP logo circus, I have made my thoughts about it fairly obvious in a previous post 'The GAP Logo - Is the outcry and criticism justified', I then came up with a few 'for fun' GAP logo attempts, one based on the very original and vintage 1972 GAP service mark.
I have tried to resist doing a 'sensible' design, the whole ethical debate about crowd-sourcing marginally bores me. I ultimately realised you may as well join them as there is no way on earth you will beat them. The extraordinary volume of GAP logo designs submitted from FaceBook to Dribbble and independent websites and crowd-sourcing contest sites has been just phenomenal.
Regardless of your views on ethical issues bought around by GAP encouraging people to design a new logo, the lure of the challenge is to great to ignore. After all, I do have a choice in this matter, GAP are not making 'anyone' design for free, they are simply working the system for all they can. After all, it's just business. I have ulterior motives to work this project, and I will make it work for me in way's not immediately obvious.
Who knows if their brand will take an even bigger hit over this, no one can say for sure.
Helvetica Gap Logo Design
I have stuck with Helvetica for my GAP logo redesign, I based this on the assumption that Helvetica is an existing brand requirement, specifically as GAP use Helvetica in the majority of the brand campaigns.
See image below.
Easy to improve other peoples work
The ideas you see here are not one I would necessarily suggest 'putting' forward as a serious GAP logo alternative, it's just what I would do to improve the 'new' concept by Laird+Partners. It's always easier to improve on someone elses designs, especially in this case.
So the actual idea or concept I have played with is nothing extraordinary. Just my suggestion.
My own opinion is that there was nothing wrong with the original boxed GAP logo, first image in this post. There is nothing wrong with it, regardless of how long it has been around. Some people are now naturally saying it's boring and old yada yada yada.
Logos do not need or have to be super exciting, they just need to work.
The blue box GAP logo has worked for many years. To blame the logo on GAP's downward spiral as a high street fashion shop is just naive poppycock.
Any company should feel proud to have a mark like this, it's pretty much timeless, which is what we all strive to create, it's stylish, its memorable and compact. So OK, time for change, most major brands go through a refresh or complete overhaul at some point, but GAP really needed to pull something special out of the bag, decades of the blue box logo are hard to forget.
It's in out nature to compare old with new, sometimes the re-brand is a success, sometimes it goes catastrophically wrong. I do wonder if brands hiring massively expensive agencies for the initial logo design is such a good idea. Too many people involved, too many people to please and too many people interfering with the design process.
A freelance logo designer can cut through the crap.
I love the original blue boxed GAP logo. However, I certainly don't love this one coming up next. We really need to work on this framework.
New Gap Logo
The logo causing the controversy, above, uses Helvetica. It is that hard to really make it just a Helvetica wordmark 'own-able', hence the need to add this dated blue graduated box just to draw some distinction. Many brands using Helvetica have done so from the start, rather than change half way through. As I mention below, 3 letters is not much to play with, American Apparel is a more substantial wordmark and so Helvetica seems to work with it very nicely.
The new logo just doesn't work.
The wording would work better on its own, but this would hardly be unique. Just 3 letters set in Helvetica. In start contrast, the original blue box GAP logo is 'own-able' in every sense of the word. They will find it hard to match that level of individuality with a Helvetica logotype.
Helvetica can look sweet but it can also look bad, which I think the new logo shows. A few tweaks, a different style more suited to the letters, changing the colour and you loose the cold clinical feel that the new one currently gives.
A few suggestions
My first suggestion is to include a lowercase 'G', this softens it up, makes it more friendly, more approachable. The uppercase 'G' does not work in this combination of letters. It overpowers the 'a' and 'p'. Lowercase feels much more compact and natural.
Black can be pretty harsh, especially when used next to a blue, takes on a sterile, clinical conservative feel. So changing the wording to the GAP blue sorts this out. There is now no need for that awful graduated blue box, my coloured lettering carries this 'previous brand association' just fine. The graduated blue box adds nothing whatsoever of value, other than an eyesore, but does prevent it becoming an elegant and clutter free solution.
I feel the particular weight of Helvetica used is too light for just 3 letters, so I have weighted it up to Helvetica Neue Black and closed up the spacing.
Although this is default Helvetica Black, it would be feasible to customise it a little. This would bring the advantage of it becoming more 'own-able' to GAP, the changes needn't be huge, subtle tweaks word work.
This could then lead to complete customisation of the Helvetica face just for GAP. This custom designed Helvetica could then be used for the rest of GAP's branding and print design.
As you can see from the above example, these few changes make a huge difference to the overall look and feel, it has more impact and presence, it is simpler and less cluttered than the 'new' logo.
It says more more with less.
Without the graduated blue box, this becomes a wordmark, typemark, logotype etc and will be supremely flexible in use.
The new heavier wordmark will now pretty much fit anywhere you want it to go, not so true with the graduated blue box version.
As it is one colour, it can work in any combination and looks particular striking white on GAP blue.
The big blue box
Not to suggest that the logotype needs to be contained, but if you do apply the original box style, it will look very solid and will have strong brand connections to the old logo, whilst being a fresh updated incarnation.
I do believe keeping the blue box would really help with general perception and visual uptake due to the the public's existing familiarity of the old logo. The blue box IS Gap for many people, with a new font in a new position, it takes on a new lease of life. The upside is that GAP don't have to start over with educating people on the visual changes of the GAP identity. This is a more subtle approach but has a deeper voice. It will yield bigger rewards all round.
The blue box adds versatility with my suggested improvements to the thicker and fuller typemark. The wordmark can be interchanged as you need.
Don't confuse your customer with a new personality if you don't really need to. A complete change of clothes is not always needed, often just a new hairstyle will do the job
A quick side-by-side comparison.
On the storefront
Mock-up of new GAP wordmark in blue box on a GAP store front. It feels and looks much fresher in my eyes.
When you walk pass this new look you'll have a familiar feeling, nothing is too out of place. You know it's GAP from a mile off but you'll also know this is a new GAP. The two can work side by side, familiarity and change work hand in hand if you get the balance just so.
You'll feel good about the change, you'll be more inclined to visit.
I am really not sure what plans they had with regards to the new logo on store fronts. I can't envisage one solution where it would look as prominent as the original blue box GAP logo or even my suggestion above. Without seeing all the research and supporting sketches, ideas, concepts it's hard to imagine, but I do know their new logo would lack the right sort of presence, warmth, familiarity, comfort and the list does go on.
The overall design of a logo or brand mark needn't be rocket science, it's just the reasoning and rationale behind it, and the execution.
Subscribe to the Blog with or | Post Updated: May 9th, 2014 | 1st Posted: June 23, 2010
Posted by: Graham Smith in Categories: Brand Identity, Freelance, Opinion
Often get asked what my policy is on dealing with the legalities of logo design, copyright and trademark issues as well as the registering and protection of naming. This is easy. I don't get caught up in any of it.
In my last post, I looked at ‘ownership’ of logo design files
Fundamentally it comes down to money, the budget and realistic expectations of what you are being payed for. I think it would be safe to assume that many logo designers DON'T get paid a fair sum for their work. Not being paid enough for being creative is one thing, but to then be expected to deal with the nightmare that is the legal minefield is just ridiculous.
This is where a client gets what they pay for. And the time it takes to conduct legal research is most certainly not included with a low cost logo. And it's rather unfair to assume that a designer should take this on if a client is paying peanuts for a logo in the first place.
Leave no room for misinterpretation
For most projects, I clearly and simply state on my proposal that the whole subject of copyright, trademark registering and legal research needed to ensure names are legal and available is the responsibility of the client.
It is quite blunt, but I feel something as important as this needs to be.
It's important to get this cleared up at the beginning. The very mention of these issues may cause the client to actually consider something they have yet to deal with. Thus ensuring they don't steam roll into a project unprepared.
For sure, if they have questions and concerns, then I am happy to advise and help direct them if I can. Also, if the budget is 'reasonable', and they have asked me to help with these complex issues, then I will gladly help. But usually, this is best left to a professional who deals with these issues, usually some form of specialised solicitor. As a logo designer, this is sort of thing is well beyond our scope and experience.
Focus, don't feel guilty
My point is, don't feel stressed if you have felt guilty in the past that you are unable to deal with these issues. You are not the only one. There are experienced and dedicated professionals whose job is to tackle copyright and trademark issues. Agencies have dedicated legal teams for this very thing, how can one freelance logo designer be expected to be able to deliver this service? You can't, so don't beat yourself up over it.
Just be honest and frank at the beginning, so the client is at least informed that creating an identity has more to it then just creating a pretty logo. There are deeper aspects that they need to be aware of and deal with appropriately.
Leave it to the professionals
I used to get stressed about it, I felt it was my responsibility, but I realised its a legal issue and I have no legal experience. It's not just me washing my hands clear of this, it's actually being very realistic and taking appropriate action. Being a copyright and trademark solicitor takes years of experience.Tto even think you could take over a solicitors role with something so crucial would be a huge mistake, that your client would likely pay for in the long run.
Then there is the foreign client challenge. Dealing with legalities in your own country is hard enough, having to then deal with how other countries deal with such things is just beyond worrying about. If an overseas clients hires you, then you must ensure they are under no illusions about the important of conducting the appropriate legal and trademark searches. They would be wise to hire local help in the legal sector.
If you are a mult-staffed identity agency, then it's a different kettle of fish, just as it is if you regularly invoice £50k projects. Then the expectations will be different, but for the majority of logo designers being paid anything from around £100+, it's not an issue to get caught up in.
Ideally, a client should have registered the company name, applied for any relevant licences, before approaching a designer. If a client has just made up a name, and come to you for a logo design, it would be wise for you to at least bring up all of the above. It's not uncommon for a logo or identity project to be scrapped half way through once it is realised the current name cannot legally be used. Then you have to start all over again.
You are not let off completetly
You still have a responsibility to ensure that your own work falls within certain parameters, not to copy an existing identity design, to not infringe on others work etc. Even if by accident, this falls on your shoulders. It's up to you to look at certain cultural sensitivities, if you are not getting paid much for the project, you might be better off not doing it at all.
I have turned my back on a few lucrative projects where the cultural requirements were far out of my comfort zone, way too much for one person to satisfactorily deal with.
So ensure you research any designs and ideas you do before comitting to them. Once an idea is in the running, ensure you search as thoroughly as you can that it does not look too similar to other logos. It's a hard job, and it's not a perfect science, but do your best.
Once the client has approved a design, then you can advise the client that they need to take measures to secure the trademark, ideally to be done sooner rather than later. But this ideally falls on the shoulders of a legal professional to be done thoroughly.
It's important not to ignore it totally. It is your responsibly to set out what you are doing and what you are not doing within the scope of each project budget. By informing the clients that this is one area you will not be dealing with, you have made the issue abundantly clear.
This is not an exhaustive explanation, it's more to just emphasise that a lot of this should be passed over to a legal professional.