Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Art Shmooze

This is a logo I created recently for a non-profit artists advocacy group called the Graphic Artists Guild. I became president of the Boston chapter a few months back and have been working on building up membership and attendance to our events. One of our recurring events is an Art Shmooze: members and non-members get together to discuss current events in our industries, get help with hard/software issues, discuss social networking and drink some beer.

Really, I wanted to call the events "Shoot the Sh*t" but didn't think that some of our older members would appreciate that. Plus the imagery would have been visually quite unappealing.

The text is hand lettered and I created the icon to show exactly what the events are about: food goes in, words come out.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Logo Design- What to consider when it's time to hire a designer

Congratulations on your new business.
You've done the research, made a business plan and now you're finally ready to get your business off the ground. So now you need a logo to convey to everyone that yours is a serious venture with four sturdy walls and a leak-proof roof. Here are some things to consider before you hire a designer to create your new identity/branding system, and then a few while your designer is designing away.

1) What is the name of your business? You've probably given this quite a lot of thought and spent some time researching the name. Also be sure to secure a domain for the business before you spend money on a logo for a name that is already taken.

2) What do you want the logo to convey (who is your target audience)? Should it be serious, edgy, fun, conservative professional, corporate, young...?

3) What information do you want in your logo? Do you have a tag line? Do you want/need an illustration or icon?

4) Who is your competition? Provide your designer a list of competitors so s/he can get an idea of who you're up against. How do you differ from them?

5) Do some research. See what logos are out there and come up with an opinion on what you like and what you don't. I don't mean just trolling the web for an hour. I mean you should also be looking around when you go to the mall, when you flip through a magazine and when you go food shopping. Logos are everywhere and you can get an idea of what you think works and what does not work (icon or no? What color(s)? What shape?). Make a list. The more you immerse yourself in existing logos, the more you will know what will look good for your business (much like knowing about fashion before going into the store to buy an entire new wardrobe). Of course, you don't need to dictate to your designer every little thing- your research will help you to be more discerning when it comes time to look at his/her concepts.

6) See what others in your industry have on their letterhead. If you're in, say, the furniture business, do a Google search: Furniture, logo.

7) Avoid fads. Pink and chocolate-brown look great together. Will you still think so in a year? In 5 years?

8) Avoid lettering that will become dated. That funky font may have a 'best if used by' date.

9) Do not let/make the logo become too overcomplicated. It does not need to tell the whole story about your business, it just needs to be an identifier. And memorable.

10) Hire a designer with a body of work that is diverse (with logos that are fun, serious, edgy etc...) so you don't get stuck with options that look like the rest of his/her work.

11) Avoid overused icons. But if your new company is "Light Up My Room" and you feel you must have, say, a lightbulb, then it should be used in an innovative way. (Lightbulb logos. Some are innovative and some are less so)

12) Communicate with your designer. Make sure s/he understands your business (as you're the one who knows it best!), your views on what you do and do not like (see #5 above), your competition and your expectations. But also be open to your designer's suggestions- s/he has been doing this for a while!

13) Sign a contract. A contract is the only way to be certain that you will be getting what you need for the agreed-upon price. There should be a time line for the sketch phase and for finalizing the chosen logo. A number of rounds of sketches and sketch options per round should also be negotiated ahead of time (see #14 below). Also negotiate a kill-fee based on the % of work completed in case you or the designer needs to stop the work.

14) Request 2-3 different logo directions for each round of concepts. From there you can choose what is working and what is not. The designer should then take your input and make changes accordingly to one or two of the original directions. Or if the original concepts weren't hitting the mark then s/he should offer up 2-3 new concepts. I also recommend that you see the concepts on a simple white background so you don't get thrown off by whatever cool design or simulated effect is going on behind the logo.

15) Don't rush approval. Get feedback from friends, associates and family before giving your feedback to the designer on sketches or on finals. It's all about fresh eyes (You MUST look at this link to know what I mean- and for a laugh). Be clear in your feedback.

16) Logo versions. Other versions you may need:
  • PMS or 4-color process version: For printing
  • RGB version: For online use
  • One color version: A simplified logo using one of your logo colors. For use on a fax cover page or if you're sponsoring a charity run, for example, they'll want to put a 1-color logo on their shirts to thank you.
  • Black and white and gray: If you want to put the logo on a flier you're printing on your laser printer or photocopier.
17) Logo file formats: You will need your final logo saved as an EPS and (optionally) an AI file. These are files you can send to any other designer to fulfill whatever printing or online needs you might have. Get all versions of these on a CD and back them up. Other files:
  • TIF: If you would like to slip your file into a Word document or Powerpoint.
  • JPEG: If you want to put your logo on your Facebook page or Twitter or Flickr.
18) Final logo checklist:
  • Is the logo recognizable or forgettable?
  • Does it properly target your desired demographic?
  • Does it stand on its own?
  • Is it legible (kind of obvious, but not for some)?
  • If there is a tagline, what happens if the logo is used small?
19) What else do you need designed? Here's a brief list of items you may need to complete your branding:
  • Letterhead (both offset printed and a Word version to print from your computer)
  • Envelopes (of varying sizes)
  • Business cards (for all employees)
  • Email signature set up
  • Signage (if you have a store front or for trade shows)
  • Thank you cards
  • Announcement cards
  • Brochure
All told, the design process should not be too painful, but be prepared to make decisions and to be involved in most aspects of it since, as I said before, you're the one who knows your business best!

What I'm working on- Sudoku

I've been (slowly) working on this story about a dad doing a Sudoku and his daughter thinking that just because she read online about the secret to doing the puzzles she can cruise through. Ultimately, she messes it up.

The final piece will be more of a comic page with panels but I wanted to show how I was drawing over my scanned sketches. You'll also notice just how much I'm revising from the sketch phase (that is, when I'm not working on a gig for a client. For clients, my sketches are much tighter so they know what they're gonna get when the piece is finished).

Since I'm working on real (paying) jobs, I'm just fitting this piece in whenever I have a chance so we'll see how soon I can get it done.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Portrait for Twitter and Facebook

Cindy Bernat is a successful real estate agent in NYC who decided she wanted to shake things up a little bit, which, during a down economy and terrible housing market, isn't such a bad idea. So she contacted me to illustrate her portrait for use on her Twitter and Facebook accounts (with a revamp to her email signature).

I worked from a photo she supplied me to create the portrait, then we discussed what the background might look like. My first pass (see below) was a background comprised of random New York buildings.
Cindy felt that the buildings were too non-specific and the feel was of an area of NY that she doesn't represent. She also wanted to be wearing a white shirt with a collar and a more straight-forward necklace. She provided me with some thoughts of what she wanted in her background and I began to work on it.

And then I pulled it all together, adding color but keeping the buildings a gray tone so they wouldn't compete with the portrait.
Finally, as you'll see in the final image at the top of this post, we added the 'SOLD' sign and pulled her collar out to overlap her jacket (she knows fashion much better than I do!). And the image is complete.

If you want to see her new image in action, Cindy can be found at