wtfudge is a lovely weblog that uses blogger to track my thoughts, etc. it is an offshoot of where mathew hoy does code, content, and creative for all things lovely.

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Location: London, Canada

a buddhist, vegetarian, and beta-geek, i build web sites, am an iconographer, write, doodle, and noodle. i like cookies and candy and fruit juice. do you?

Friday, October 22, 2004

of dubs and doodle

last night aw came over and kicked it for a few to pick up the olde mac classic i had in the basement and wasn't using, to tell me about identity crisis series of comix, and to let me listen to bits of shatner's new cd (which was quite darling).

on my way home last night, i was detained by the reality of the london transit system and decided that while taking a breather downtown, i would go to the library and get a book by this paul rand guy i'd been reading interviews with all day yesterday. to my delight and surprise, they had design form and chaos by signor rand and it's delightful. it gives samples of his logo presentations for ibm, next, morningstar, adstar, and more. these presentations are great explorations of ideas of another designer and an insight into the design process, something that i didn't learn at all in my limited schooling at canadore.

at canadore, we mainly took photos, drew bell peppers, and played with quark on old macintosh systems. while taking the course, i felt there was something wrong, or something missing. what was missing was a shred of design theory or design history. there was no "this is the all-powerful grid" lesson, class, or whathaveyou while i was there. natch, i pooched the gooch early, but i guess i was feeling like things were empty and didn't know how to ask for what i thought was missing.

that and i was incredibly lazy, missing home, and stuck in a bit of a rough relationship that was "dragging me down, man".

anyways, these days i'm trying to play catch-up with things that i wished i'd learned in school. i've been looking at the work of other designers and being in love with what i'm seeing out there (john maeda, & all). then, i'm looking at my own work and feeling a little empty, not knowing why my things look the way they do. if i look at the work of some people, i'm always amazed where they get their ideas from, or how their process works. whenever i sit down to try something out, i don't seem to have any ideas. i just (usually) open illustrator, and start drawing shapes and items until things fall into a place that i like.

take for example, the HellaBoss logo (mr. sparrow). when i first made it, i was playing with illustrator, mainly watching myself making curves. i wanted to see how snap to grid created curves (i use "snap to grid" with a grid enabled nearly 98% of the time i've the app open, if you're keen to know) with the pen tool. the first few versions of the sparrow were smaller, more squat birds that looked like quails and finches and not like sparrows or other birds. for a long time i've loved the drawings of nathan j and in one of his images, there are birds in trees that i've been loving. so i was trying to remake one of the birds in the picture.

anyways, after a while of messing with curves and making basic birdforms, i made a green desktop image that i sent to a few pals who liked it (one of the early bird drawings is on my wife's desktop at work since she loves it to pieces). the image packed some dashedline punch and featured a little bird with feathers on its body. it was, like the HellaBoss logo, very basic.

then, i got bored and recreated it because i hated the shape. i then made the most current version (with the tuft at the front of the head, facing right since i'm left handed so it's like the logo is moving away from the hand that created it [even though i mouse with my right...]) and cut my hair to suit.


then i got bored again (this is about 2 weeks ago). i've never stuck with a logo as long as i've stuck with this one. the logo looked too plain. too boring. nothing fancy. no gradients. no 3d raytraced effects. nothing. nothing like i was seeing in demo reels at ventilate. until recently, i've been very much a treat of the week kinda guy. i'm up on pop culture and couldn't see the problem with the new ups logo which i loved to pieces. i would draw trees in illustrator and call them trees. no idea up in here.

so i set to work reworking the plain sparrow logo that currently adorns the HellaBoss site. after a few neat ideas, nothing was sticking with me. so i left it and went back to the other million projects i was/am working on at the moment.

after reading texts by paul rand, i'm glad i did. in actual fact, i love the HellaBoss logo. i love the simpleness of it. i love that you can tell what it is at 16x16 pixels and 10 metres by 10 metres. you can dress it up on solid, ungradiented colours and set it loose. it looks as good black as it does green or hot pink. the eye is cut out so it looks great against another background too. i ditched my gradiented explorations and stayed the course. i will not change it.

i think that regardless of what you think of my illustrator skills, that the logo is timeless, like some of rand's logos. i'm certainly not comparing my work with that of paul rand, but based on some of his essays and thoughts, the logo isn't subscribing to trends. there is no gradient, no powermac, no new $50 bill, no colour of the week, no nothing. it is a logoform that can be used forever, unlike the new ups logo which will need to be redesigned when the gradient function in photoshop goes out of style. i'm suddenly aware of how pretentious this sounds, trust me.

anyways, i'm designing logos to be flags and not to tell a message. i'm designing them to be unique and timeless. pixel or vector, i'm making them scalable to 10 pixels2 or 10 metres2. i'm making them easy to reproduce if i'm offline or the client needs one drawn in a pinch. the HellaBoss logo is easy to rapidly recreate.

this speaks to something i experienced at this past year's flash in the can event at which i volunteered and introed guest speakers (joshua davis, andreas odendaal, for example). i was in the green room watching some of the speakers sign a poster that the group will auction off to make some extra cash. there were 7 posters to sign and one of the speakers (whose presentation was incredible!) was taking close to 4 minutes to recreate his logo on the poster, and then signed his name afterwards. i couldn't help but think that he was wasting a lot of time and that while the logo was neat (i'm still not sure what it's of!), there was nothing rapid about it. the creation process took 4 minutes to draw by hand, a method arguably 1/2 faster than recreating it on the computer from scratch.

it was party the marker's fault. it was one of those pens full of glitter paint that flows out when you press down on the nib. once he got that figured out, however, all the other posters still required as much time to create. and, compared to his presentation (and the original logo), i wasn't impressed.

i think the re/creation of a logo, especially one that's yours that you use and create often, should take about 10 seconds to draw if you need to. the logo should be clear if you used autocad to plot it out within the exact inch or if you draw it while intoxicated. whether it's hand drawn or precision-drafted, you should be able to tell what it is from across the room. even if it's not 100% accurate, it's distinguishable. draw a crappy version of the nike swoosh, apple's apple, or the nhl's crest and people can tell what it is. that's how yours should be.

too often, logos are the same. they all sport a swoosh that shoots over the top of a word, a spiral (have a look at grant's bit of brilliance - once there, quickly scan the page and note how all of the logos are the same), or something else to be lost at smaller resolutions (unless you work for the company).

it will take a lot of practise to go from here into the future and figure out what works for me, but i think i'm heading off in the right direction rather than following the (confusing and lost) pack.



Blogger Frank said...


Wow! That makes so much sense. I see exactly where you're coming from. I often find myself thinking the exact same thing: "this is too plain!" But you've definitely hit the nail with how a logo should be a timeless piece and how it should be something easy to create, recognize and remember.

Keep it up... I've always loved your work, even when some clients don't! ;)

October 22, 2004 at 12:18 PM  
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October 24, 2005 at 9:42 PM  

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