February 12, 2012

The Evolution of a Logo

As they say in BUST magazine, Buy or DIY.

Applied to your business idea, it means you have to decide whether to do something yourself or pay a professional to do it for you. Bookkeeping, taxes, logo design, web design, marketing and promotion, grant applications, exhibition applications, seeking gallery and/or retail contracts, product photography; for nearly each and every task associated with your budding business, there is someone out there who will do it for you or with you, if you are so inclined, and you have the money to pay for it, something desirable to barter, favors to pull in, or generous and talented friends.

Or, if you’re like me, you don’t need to make a decision, it’s made for you. You’re hard-wired to your own way of doing things. I hadn't thought about it before in this context, but in addition to self-reliance the Lundin legacy might very well be use what you have to make what you need. With few exceptions, I never pay someone to do something for me that I am fully capable of doing myself. I can’t help it. I’m annoyingly frugal and I have complete confidence in my ability to figure out how to do most anything that needs doing. And, if I’m being honest, I usually believe that I’ll do something better than anyone I might otherwise hire will do. Plus, I get to do it my own way and I have no one but myself to blame if it doesn’t work out. Both of which are important to me.

That being said, I know my limits. I’m not a graphic designer. I could have muddled around and come up with an adequate Odd Bird Studio logo by myself, but I probably wouldn’t have been completely satisfied with it. This was a tradeoff I was willing to make rather than hire a designer with money that I think would be better invested in equipment. Plus, past experience in other areas leads me to believe that I am not effective at communicating my vision to strangers. So I came up with an initial logo idea, a very rough draft, and showed it to my friend Annette, among whose talents is graphic design.

Which is how you get from this
to this
in about 3 or 4 steps.

I was looking for a little input from Annette and what I got was a full-blown logo. I loved the scratchy, nest-like background and the word "bird" in cursive script. I never would have come up with the color combo on my own, but it grew on me so fast that I can't now imagine it any other way.

We bounced files back and forth via email, with me asking for little changes here and there. Then I  took the plunge and played with the most recent files Annette sent to make the logo fit in my website, blog, and Etsy shop. Not knowing how to use Illustrator, it took me an entire day to move elements around and resize them to fit the various websites. I also changed the colors a bit in an attempt to make them web safe. But somewhere in the process of not knowing what I was doing and flipping back and forth between Illustrator and Photoshop the web safe colors morphed into the colors you see in the logo at the top of this page.  

Soon after my marathon session at the computer Annette gave me a simple, 2 minute Illustrator tutorial by phone and I was off and running (again), making little tweaks here and there and playing with different typefaces. If we lived near one another, I would have had Annette over for dinner by way of thanks. Instead, I mailed scones made from a recipe my Mum found in the Boston Globe. (These are the best textured scones I've ever made. If you make them, be sure to leave time to refrigerate the dough for 2 hours before baking.)

I planned to use the "bird" typeface for the headings in my website. I'm not clear on how it all works, but if the fonts you set in your web design are not available on the computer used to view the website, the viewing computer will substitute a different font. This can change the entire layout, look and feel of the website. The way around this, to control the exact fonts displayed on any computer used to view your website, is to embed your chosen fonts. Essentially, the fonts are treated like the pictures you put on your website, they are available at a central location for any computer to access. (I learned about this in one of my web programming books and at Font Squirrel.)

The problem is not all fonts are licensed to be embedded for web use. So I diligently read the licensing agreements for the fonts I wanted to use in the Odd Bird Studio logo. Not only was the "bird" font I had my heart set on not licensed for web embedding, using it in a logo is prohibited. I never would have imagined such a thing. A typeface not available for use in a logo? Go figure. I respect copyrights and expect others to respect my copyrights as an artist, and here I was about to inadvertently violate a licensing agreement. If I hadn't wanted to use the font in question on my website, I don't think I would have read the licensing agreement. It never would have occurred to me. Now I know better.

The solution? I downloaded a bunch of free fonts available for commercial use and web embedding directly from Font Squirrel. Of all the script typefaces I downloaded, Annette recommended the one in use below. Ultimately, I do like this much better than the one I had previously loved. Oh fickle, fickle me.

Here's the business card as it stands today: