Author Archives: John

Author Archives: John

A flexible outline for branding

A flexible outline for branding

If you're a new designer starting a logo, here's an outline you can use to begin the process. I kept this vague because the idea is for you to tailor your service to support your work but this outline will be a good beginning.

1) Explain yourself

One of the biggest fears I encounter from clients is the thought that hiring one person "locks" them into fewer choices and they might be stuck with something they don't want. It is your job to help assuage uncertainty by having a process that incorporates discussion and rationale for choices. By explaining this process you can show your capabilities and eliminate the thinking of design as a lottery or contest where the outcome *might* be positive. A process has the greatest chance of success. Design is a service, not a contest.

2) Ask questions, and be responsive

By now you have heard a fair amount about the business but it's is the time to learn more. You aren't just learning about the client's service but the industry in general: trends, competition, biggest concerns, their customers, concerns of their customer, shirt color of their customers, everything about their customers. You're trying to appeal to your client's customers - not just your client. Remember this and imagine you're working for two now (your clients and their customers). How would their customers view the work you've done?

3) Research

Research is separate from asking questions because it includes what you might not hear from your client. There are things they might not know or forget to consider but your fresh perspective will help to find those things out. If there's nothing new to learn from here that's great, but be careful that you haven't simply missed something. Stay open.

4) Start loose

Now you can take your research and fulfill the promise you talked about in your outline to the client. Start working loosely. You're in the idea stage if you haven't started there yet. Don't make one idea precious. Nothing perfect, please.

5) Refine over time

Refining is where the vague takes shape and a logo comes to be. Think of a tree trunk - wide at the bottom and narrow at the top. I limit revisions because we're working toward a goal and changing elements because of too much feedback can pull us out of designing with intent and into designing to be finished. All that research is meant to guide your choices. This part of the project looks different for everyone and is a good time for your client to learn about how you work.

6) Arrive at a final, prepare files and stay helpful.

Arriving at the final logo means you tested your work at different sizes, limited color situations, and in the most difficult instances you can imagine. This can be: crammed onto the back of a t-shirt next to a dozen other logos or printed on a small one color newspaper ad. Prepare for the worst and make sure the files you send can minimize problems. Label/organize your files clearly and imagine you won't be the designer working with the logo in the future. Imagine there won't be a designer - make them easy to understand for everyone.

7) Remember your purpose a.k.a. design is a service

This is the step that exists within the rest of the steps. It is important to remember that you are not making art here (save that for later) you are providing a service. Be accessible, helpful, and open. Don't design in secret, and if you do record the process to help explain your choices.
Houdini – colored

Houdini – colored

I colored this myself (download a page to color here) looking at posters from Houdini's era. Lots of art deco, airbrushed shapes and textures began showing up in what I found. One of the more interesting things I learned about Houdini is that he insisted on explaining to his audience that superstition and magic have no part in his performance. "My brain is the key that sets me free" - Harry Houdini.
HD-small-web
Houdini

Houdini

I'm working on this illustration but I turned it into a coloring page for Houdini's birthday today. Click to download the larger image.
  HD-small
Slainte part 3

Slainte part 3

Here's the final version of the poster. I pulled heavily from art nouveau to make this so complicated lines are ok here. It is easy to overwork a project sometimes and my original idea of working line art into the lettering took it to that point - so I left it out in the final. Sl-final
Slainte part 2

Slainte part 2

outlineI have everything brought into Illustrator, now I'm working on detail and colors. You can see in the letters that there are breaks to help me see where there will be depth in the letters.

I'm interested in adding detail inside of the letters, bringing in knots or a pattern if it will support the look of everything together.

Below you can see what the "e" looks like with depth and shading added as the letters overlap.

I won't be using these too much here, but here is a quick way to make three easy art brushes in a short amount if time. They're good for detail or backgrounds, and helped me to learn how art brushes work in Illustrator.

e
Slainte part 1

Slainte part 1

sliante-v2Here's an in-progress view for a St. Patrick's Day illustration I'm making this year. Inset below is the basic thumbnail I began from and the first larger sized plan I put together for the next set. I definitely wanted to keep the diagonal direction in there but wasn't sure yet how to handle the lettering. There were a lot of ways to go with the type.

In the next version I have more of a plan for the composition and the diagonal the lettering is resting on. I have a couple of things left to puzzle out but I'm far enough along to bring it into the computer to process and adjust.

Since this is so complicated I will think about using limited colors and sticking with richer shades of green, red, gold, and brown. In ornate illustrations - like in illuminated manuscripts - I notice that some level of order helps to balance organic elements. I think the same idea can help here.

sliante-v1
Early thumbnail sketch and pencil plan
Jack o’ lantern

Jack o’ lantern

I started this as a sketch to turn into a vector illustration a few days ago but I didn't care for the way it was turning out. I do like the face, the three-dimensional aspect of it.

sketch-10-14

I started removing pieces of the pumpkin to see how much I could take out while still keeping the face recognizable. Here's the end result:10-14flourish

Link to download (.ai file). There is an orange background version and a white background variation in the file.
The Last Crash

The Last Crash

I made this to blow off some steam after a morning of duking it out with my computer but if you remove my name this can be a simple/versatile little drawing. The vector file does not have writing on the tombstone. The owl is separate as well. I'll be back to regular flourishes in November. Enjoy these until then. Link to download (.ai file).