This lesson shows the connection between traditional art and design and contemporary graphic design; the two are inextricably linked, and the best designers are also very talented artists. Starting off by sketching a logo allows designers freedom from constraints with technical skills, and provides focus on research, exploration, a “strategy first” mentality, and formal composition,

1. Research

Research helps artists and designers understand their goals, how others have upset current trends and created new styles, and how associations are formed. To create the best logo, you should first start with looking at logos within the field you wish to represent. What works? What doesn’t? What colors seem to be continually used? Design styles? Typographic elements? Organizational hierarchy? Balance? Graphic elements?

Find something that works for you; find inspiration in the work others and make elements you find successful your own. After completing research, you can begin to get a good idea of what you’re looking for.

Inspiration: Art Style

I was tasked with creating a logo for a nail salon (Nirvana Nails) that wanted the perception of tranquility with a look that gave the perception of “zen” qualities. The concept of zen, and tranquility as a whole, coincides most often with the spiritual and meditative, a connection which is most closely tied to Hinduism. Dhyana in Hinduism/Buddhism/Jainism means contemplation and meditation. Dhyana is taken up in Yoga exercises, and leads to samadhi and self-knowledge.

This directive gave a focus to what I began to research; art and design elements that were based in India, though I also looked within the focus of southeast Asia as a whole, as well as Morocco and the Middle East – as they all share similar design styles.

I looked closely at arabesques, mandalas, and penrose tilings, and I concentrated on the Kashmir or Kerri patterns seen in Persian and Hindu design, and what we most often call Paisley. I concluded that this would be the best presentation of form for the logo due to associations and perceptions. I made notes and moved on to researching typography.

Inspiration: Typography

There are millions of decorative fonts on the market, many of which are available for free. To start I searched for fonts that were Hindu-inspired, since that was the point of focus for the design elements I would use as inspiration.

While many were close to what I wanted, I realized that none of the fonts provided enough versatility or readability. Certain fonts were too difficult to read at small point sizes, and others and others were too confusing – certain letters looked too close to other letters that meant I would need to open up the specifications because they were clearly too narrow.

I opened my font search to any decorative fonts that could connect with the overall theme I was working on, and I decided on a font called “Stonehenge.” While styled to work with an ancient Celtic theme (think Tarot cards, or druids, or even fairytales) this also worked with the style of the look I was trying to achieve overall: ancient, with artwork often carved in stone, set with roman characters with many similar to a serif font and others having some overt decorative elements.

2. Draw

Sometimes logos simply don’t work. What we envision in our mind can look very different on paper, and therefore very different once we fully create our logo in Adobe® Illustrator as a vector. And sometimes they’re much better than we had once hoped for.

Spending a bit of time drawing helps us to make calculated decisions and enable us to get out our ideas on paper so we don’t spend too much time recreating an idea that might not transition well to the screen and to all associated media. This is part of the artistic process.

Based on the balance and symmetry of the art and design elements I chose, I decided to create the logo in a circular style with the text centered equally (both horizontally and vertically), which meant I only had to sketch the top of the pattern and the text area before I could envision the full logo.

1.) began my rough logo sketch with a mechanical drawing pencil, carefully ensuring that it was as
symmetrical as possible. 2.) I then blocked off the inner portion with a ruler as a rectangle and penciled around it, leaving plenty of room for the text. 3.) I created the company name in all caps using a blank document, and selected the font to be used. 4.) Finally, I inked over the portions I felt were effective when I finished. Sketch progress shown below.

No formal assessment is required for this project.