Resources & Inspiration for the Artistically Curious
There’s a lot that goes through your head when it comes to trying to define yourself as a creative professional. This is especially true when it comes defining the element that very well sets the entire tone for your image: your logo. Since last year I have feverishly been revisiting my logo’s aesthetic. The mark itself has seen some evolution and I believe I’m getting it closer to something that works well as a genuine indicator of my personality.
One of the key challenges of defining and refining my personal brand is that I am greatly inspired by everything around in me. I like, or can find the good, in almost anything, and because of that my personal style has fallen into a “clean area,” undefined by any one particular genre or overlying aesthetic. Every time I create new work, be it personal or for a client, the project becomes defined by the problem rather than by my own sense of style. I’m always trying to create something I haven’t seen before and as a result few things look the same. I’m reminded of the line by Don Cheadle’s character ‘Basher’ in Ocean’s 13 when he says “You don’t do the same gag twice. You do the next gag.” Now whether or not this is always true remains to be seen, but I can tell you one thing: I get bored easily, and that usually leads to a shifting aesthetic.
You see I’m always designing differently. If I’m working for Destiny Image as a freelance book cover designer I’m doing much more photo work. I’m usually spending hours and hours searching for the perfect images and working to manipulate them to appropriately suit the Christian Market. These types of jobs usually demand very complex visuals, dramatic lighting, and a very “spiritual” feel.
This kind of work stands in stark contrast to user interface designs I’ve been commissioned to do which rely heavily on clean and intuitive navigation layouts. I rarely incorporate any complex Photoshop manipulation in an effort to keep file sizes small and manageable. I don’t like my web graphics to become complicated and larger than they to deliver an efficient user experience.
Then there’s this blog, a site that expands beyond the limits of where I develop it’s content and reaches across borders to an international audience. Here I prefer to keep the designs simple as well, and try to ensure that those who don’t speak English as a first language are able to appreciate everything the site has to offer.
So those are just three examples of varying style that make it rather difficult to define what my own design image should say. Given that I am rarely encountering the same design problem, I haven’t found a set style that works for me when it comes to developing a consistent style. Which leads me to the near constant redesign of my brand.
Below are the three iterations that my logo has undergone in recent months.
At first you will see a strong, condensed mark that uses the three initials of my name “JMV”. I still like this logo as a definitive mark, but felt it lacked something in the overall brand I wanted to create. I was able to add color to change up the blandness of the traditional black-on-white, but didn’t enjoy the contrasts that developed when I applied additional information to it like a name or phone number. It worked well by itself, and that’s about it.
Next you will see the evolution of that mark into a thinner one that attempts to broaden the overall look and solidify it as more of a “stamp” icon.The idea of a “stamp” is something I find very interesting see a lot of designers experiment with, however I’ve begun to abandon this mark in fear that it’s beginning to look like a lot of other stuff that is out there. Maybe I’ve overexposed myself to what other designers are doing, but that same exposure is also giving me a wealth of insight into what my competitors are doing and really helping to define my strengths.
Finally you’ll see what I’m currently developing. With this new version of the logo I’ve dropped the “stamp” appeal and moved towards a bolder and fresher look. When creating this I was trying to think of fun ways to incorporate both color as well as more engagement of the logo. I kept the “JMV” treatment the same and added the layering of what looks like a transparent colored banner to help make the image “pop”. I’m very happy with the result as the banner color and JMV icon are very easy to change and allow for a much richer brand signature.
As I develop and continue to expand my knowledge of design I’m sure that my preferences will begin to narrow and focus into a “style” that will ultimately affect the aesthetic of my brand. While I struggle to define my image now, I don’t necessarily view it as a band thing. For one, it keeps me interested in evolving, and for another maybe an ever-changing brand best defines me as the ever-changing designer I am.
As always if you have any questions about freelancing, design, or just wanna chat you can reach me day and night on my Twitter @JimViola.
And to everyone reading this: Thank you. The audience I am noticing building around this blog is truly a creative and knowledge-hungry group. All your positive energy, constructive criticism, and willingness to engage with me about design is inspiring and exactly what I intended to attract to this site. Ya’ll da best.