Subscribe to the Blog with or | Post Updated: September 14th, 2016 | First Published: March 20, 2014
Posted by: Graham Smith in Categories: Design Essentials, Flickr, Freelance, Graphic Design, Opinion
That logo designer referenced in the post title is me. Yup. I didn't go to any art or design based further education, and I get royally narked off when I hear creative toff's toot their own ivory horn about how, "one can't be a successful (define successful for a start) designer if one didn't get the appropriate qualifications to show how awesomely creative one is."
Update: Minutes after posting, a few people were exhibiting signs of emotional distress over my apparent blanket dissing of everyone who did experience further creative education. I've not edited the post in guilty response, just appending this little update. I think it's clear that yes, I have a personal problem with only those creatives that say, "if you didn't do further education, you can't make it in the big world.", and this post gives me a personal outlet to address that, for which I am quite entitled.
However, my main motive for the post is to simply explain, by example, that one can forge a creative career without the benefits of further creative education. I see and hear too many tales of talented individuals believing their route to a creative career is all but impossible, because of their lack of further education. My personal anger is directed towards, and at, only those that openly say one can't achieve a creative career, it's not a blanket dismissal of every creative who did achieve academic qualifications. Just wanted to be crystal clear on that…
It's almost like suggesting that mine/our ('our' is in anyone else who is working in design, earning a living and didn't pursue further academic creative education) collective contribution to the graphic design industry is one massive negative waste of time, and is actually harmful to the precious design industry, and makes one feel uneasy in some head-up-your-own ass kind of way.
However, whilst I didn't do creative cool school, I did do a 1 year apprenticeship at Guildford (that only lasted 4 months until the course was abandoned due to the other apprentices dropping out until it was just me) whilst working full-time, since the age of 17, at a commercial printers down here on the South Coast.
All my experience was hands-on, taught and handed-down by the most talented photo typesetters, typographers, paste-up artists, film-planners (those doing 4 colour film planning were beyond revered), platemakers, and all with not one toffing certificate to show for it.
Each one of my full-time jobs within the print and reprographics, design, advertising agencies, from the age of 17-35, was a small, and painfully, slow step-up the career ladder.
I was privileged, and at the same time, ungracefully burdened, with being in the print and designer industry during the 'age and rapid transition of the photo typesetting, producing bromides to be glued on card grids', as the relentless pace of technology such as DTP and the Apple Macintosh LE's and Classic's etc, forced many a craftsmen to lose their jobs, or face a hard road of re-education. I was made redundant at the age of 21, 3 or so years into my 'apprenticeship', because the company was slow to adopt the DTP side of commercial print. That in itself was one of my most significant life lessons…
Natural Creative Talent
I see, on a daily basis, such amazing creative talent coming from teenagers still kicking out their final High School years. What they lack in, oftentimes in technical ability and other useful skills that only come from living life for a few more years, is often gracefully glided over in preference of such amazing natural creativeness.
School wasn't good for me really, not an academic, and only got a GCSE Grade 'C' in Art, for the shame of it. But that's sort of my point, in that natural talent, when forced down a restrictive pipe that aggressively narrows down to such a stressful situation as taking exams, is oftentimes not so beneficial for many types of personality. If you have natural creative talent, then the technical aspects can be self-taught over time, by various methods and not without the personal desire and ambition to do so.
I seriously feel like laughing, or being sick, when I see some supposed creative academic with all the arty diplomas one can receive, dishing out such shoddy logo and brand identity work, both aesthetically, and also technically. I have seen better creative and typographic talent on Dribbble, Behance, Flickr, Pinterest, (from creatives that I know are young—trying hard not to sound patronising—relatively speaking) than on many logo and brand identity city agency portfolios.
I'm SO not saying, or implying, or stating, that further creative education is a waste of time, not at all. However, it certainly isn't the only road that can be taken to pursue a career in graphic design, and lets remember please: many families simply cannot afford to send their 'naturally creative kid' to pursue further creative education!
For those arty know-it-all's that preach this poppycock, you are basically saying that those on low incomes, or those that have other family challenges, that makes it practically impossible to extend a kid's education, you are needlessly, and selfishly crushing desires, dreams and ambition. Or are you too torn up over spending so many years drinking and getting in debt? (classic student cliché and stereotype I know, sorry.)
The Moral of this Fluff?
If you didn't get to extend your education past High School, or even A-levels, it's not a foregone conclusion that you'll never make it as a creative of some kind, be it as an employee, or working for yourself.
Please please, just don't listen to those idiots who preach that you can't be a commercial designer UNLESS you did the arty student boot-camp thing.
All my experience was gained on-the-job, and at home doing freelance design work on the side. Don't be fooled: my apprenticeship was basically non-existent, it only existed in the form of such awfully low wages, BUT, the experience was completely invaluable. I took on a number of full-time jobs in my 20's with such appalling salaries, that one can't help but feel so bloody disheartened, but one also has to see that life often works in logical, detailed and seemingly painfully slow ways.
If you have natural creative talent, or have even yet to fully tap into it, or hell, even realise it yet, go with it if you possibly can. For damn sure, don't be put-off by certain individuals, web-o-zine posts, magazine articles, who say you might as well not bother if you did't get past A-levels.
It really is such degrading poppy-cock.
The one thing I know I can say, hand-on-sincere-heart, is that my technical skills were taught, and handed down, by such master craftsman, that I actually feel so very privileged, and that I'm, and with hindsight, not in any way regretful that I didn't extend my creative academic education.
If you want a career in design, no matter the particular niche/specialist area, it can be done off your own back, if you have the heart, passion and commitment.
Subscribe to the Blog with or | Post Updated: September 14th, 2016 | First Published: February 19, 2014
Posted by: Graham Smith in Categories: Brand Identity, Flickr, Opinion
I actually love it when a brand redesigns their logo, but due to the subtleness of the logo design—in this case, more of a freshen up than a redesign—the roll-out ends up being somewhat low-key. Can't say I have my ear completely glued to the ground, but I do like to think I'm reasonably up on logo news, and sometimes even catching new stuff like when Flickr recently changed a colour in their logo.
I only caught a whiff of the new Tumblr logo this morning, over on Brand New: Blink and You'll Miss it, whilst catching up on my RSS feeds.
It's one of those logo updates that just completely makes sense, restraint was practiced (which I always really admire when it's done right) with careful attention to the new letter shapes and their overall connectedness as a whole.
Overall, the new Tumblr logo feels: more tumblier (bouncier?) and friendlier, yet at the same time also more refined, solid, and as musicians would say: tight.
The Tumblr in-house design team seems to have completely nailed this one good and proper.
The one down-side, which seems to be a general consensus across the internet, is that that the 'u' looks a bit odd where it's missing the upper left serif. More so because the m, b, l and r still have it, so has a somewhat lack of consistency, but nothing major. I can see it annoying some people…
As a little side-note: This is a nice little lesson in logo redesign restraint that Yahoo (Marissa) should, at some point, ponder over. Almost a shame Tumblr didn't do this first before Yahoo completed nuked their own logo redesign.
New & OId Tumblr Logo Comparison
Just mocked-up a quick logo sheet with the old and new Tumblr logo as a couple of overlays, so you can better see where each letter has changed. In fact, some of the changes: specially the 'r', do look pretty major when you look at the letters individually, but when the logo is viewed as a whole, not so much.
With the 3rd example titled: "Old (Pink Outline) & New (Blue Outline) Overlay with shifted letters", all I did was to shift the letters sideways a little so each letters overlay was aligned more vertically aligned
Tumblr's Logo Guidelines
Loving Tumblr's simple, and lighthearted set of logo guidelines.
Far from being anal like Twitter, Tumblr are allowing some flexibility in the use of their logo, such as using different colours of the initial 't' logo, and even use different style containers. Great to see a brand as entrenched into society as Tumblr is, still allowing a decent amount of flexibility in the practical use of their brand ID.
Way to go.
Subscribe to the Blog with or | Post Updated: September 14th, 2016 | First Published: December 12, 2013
Posted by: Graham Smith in Categories: Brand Identity, Famous Logos, Flickr, Opinion
It's not exactly breaking news this, but still, on a personal level, I do find things like this interesting. I really don't have the foggiest idea if Marrissa was behind the flickr logo changing colours, or not: I'm just taking an educated guess.
I only noticed the colour changes when quickly looking at one of my flickr photographs on my iPhone (insincere apologies for the awfully rude photo). Blink and you'll miss it. Not sure how widespread the implementation is because you mostly get the black and white logo on the main website.
Just seems a silly little change really, the introducing of Yahoo's purple. A token gesture (as well as moving the magenta to the dot on the i), if I ever did see one, that doesn't really work. Now it just looks like an amateur attempt to keep the best of both worlds, and it didn't work. Better to just bite-the-bullet and go 'large'.
Might be just a small thing to some, but these 'small things' can wreck havoc on a brands heritage. Yahoo just tinkers…
Thus, another possible option (below), just to simply keep it to 2 colours, might have been to simply change the blue for the purple, and keep the magenta 'r' as always. This way you get more of the Yahoo branding across whilst still keeping the distinctive 'r'.
The purple is more dominant, the overall style is still the old flickr, but it looks a little cleaner and a less messy 'compromise'.
No idea what they might be thinking, or planning for the future, so no one can say if this is a precursor to something more substantial, but I don't like it.
It's a small detail, but a detail nonetheless.
Given they seem to be liking the gothic look on flickr's main website, might have been better to simply monochrome the logo in it's entirety and be done with it!
When you think about it, there are many variations one could do, and that's part of the problem with Yahoo, they seem to change for the sake of change because they 'can' change. Yet they can't seem to make these changes in a way that's coherent, adheres to some uniform plan, and in the end they end up diluting once strong, and somewhat iconic, brands.
Subscribe to the Blog with or | Post Updated: September 14th, 2016 | First Published: September 12, 2013
Posted by: Graham Smith in Categories: Brand Identity, Flickr, Portfolio
Really nice to see the fruits of ones logo design work, The Auto Network logo, proudly adorning the header of the redesigned/updated website. Also a quick thank you to Rebecca Turnbull for the mention in their blog post: New branding for a new direction, The Auto Network works with Graham Smith
During the initial, and last, stages of the logo development I didn't really have a clear idea of how their website would be redesigned and updated. This is quite a common way of working, at least for me, so it's just really nice to see how the logo and website now seem to really gel quite nicely. The favicon looks pretty neat as well!
You can see a larger version here: http://www.flickr.com and here: http://imjustcreative.com
Subscribe to the Blog with or | Post Updated: September 14th, 2016 | First Published: July 29, 2013
Posted by: Graham Smith in Categories: Brand Identity, Flickr, Portfolio
Keeping ones portfolio up-to-date nearly always seems to be one of those tasks that just keep getting side-lined due to this and that. One really needs to get his finger out of his backside more often.
Finally had to scratch a certain itch, so took the last few days to revise my Monomarks:
Monomarks: individual logomarks, from each of my logo designs, displayed in glorious Techniblack.
Previously they were black logomarks on a dark grey background, which frankly was most dull. The new Monomark's are now square and have the black logomarks on a brilliant white background.
I've yet to fully update the Monomark page, here on this website, with all the new updated Monomarks, but you can see a long list of them over on my new Behance Prosite external portfolio: http://grahamsmith.info as well as on Flickr.
Subscribe to the Blog with or | Post Updated: September 14th, 2016 | First Published: June 6, 2013
Posted by: Graham Smith in Categories: Brand Identity, Design Essentials, Flickr, Inspiration, Portfolio
If you like the sort of logo design inspiration that has it's feet firmly in the real world, and not in the make-believe, then I'm hopeful you might like what Logo Stack has to offer.
I started Logo Stack because I was getting a bit jaded with the sheer amount of conceptual, made-up brand name logo designs popping up whilst researching and gathering inspiration for my own logo design projects.
We think we have control over what inspires us, yet we are swayed even when we don't consciously know it, inspiration is a powerful beast.
When you end up not knowing if a logo was designed to a brief and real world application, or simply more of a portfolio filler—not saying there is anything wrong in make-believe logo designs, simply stating that it's nice to be able to know exactly how and why a particular logo design came to be—then the boundaries between logos that represent real brands, and those that do not, are blurred to a point where real world logos seem to fade into the background.
The kind of logo inspiration one is 'consciously' seeking can be quite different to the inspiration our minds just relentlessly catalogues in our brains, and will often steer our creative direction as it pleases.
Ever designed somegthing you sure was original? Only to find out a few weeks later that you had actually seen something similar, but had not even realised it at the time? Even worse is when someone kindly points that out for you…
You can be sure that every logo design you see has been used, or is in use by a client in the real world. That every logo you'll see generally has a purpose and application behind the development and design of said logo.
I think the distinction between real and fantasy is quite important, more so when some logo design galleries are simply choc full of the conceptual.
You may not care if a logo is real or not, that inspiration is inspiration regardless of it's intended use or destination, but I think it's a little more important than that in some cases. Hence why I started Logo Stack, so at least there is a place to go should you just want 'real'.
My Own Personal Taste
The other aspect about Logo Stack is that it's primarily a collection of logo designs that I personally like, rather than a collection of all and any design.
It sort of started as my own personal inspiration hub, but ended up becoming openly available the more I realised other people were interested in seeing what sort of logo designs tickled my fancy.
Credits & Attributation
I'm also careful about attributing the proper credits and links to each logo design and it's designer: be it a solo endeavour or a major agency. Therefore, each Logo Stack post details the project name, and the designer/agency responsible with links back to their home page, and if applicable, the actual project page.
I also add only one style of post Tag: this is the designer/agency name, which means there is a healthy database of names being indexed, and are of course searchable.
Quite a number of logos come from Mr Cup, (what used to be Graphic Exchange), but also come from many other sources. So if I haven't stumbled across an agency website on my own travels, then I'll also add a credit to the website I found out about that particular logo.
Just for Clarity
As mentioned above just want to be absolutely bloody clear that I am not dissing the: conceptual, the made-up, the experimentational* (*apparently not a real word) logo design.
What I am trying to do is just create more of an awareness between what we allow ourselves to be influenced by. I have done my fair share of experimenting and still do… it's an important way to keep ones skills fresh as well as just enjoying the freedom of designing for the hell of it.
But sometimes I just want and need to be influenced by the real, not the unreal.
Other Ways to Follow Logo Stack
Feed: You can follow the updates to Logo Stack by the websites feed (RSS), and view in your favourite feed reader.
Pinterest: There is a Logo Stack board on Pintertest, so if this is your inspiration hub, then you'll easily be able to keep-up-to-date.
Designspiration: Shelby is doing a terrific job over at Designspiration, and I have finally been able to create a Logo Stack section over there as well.
Flickr: I have created a Flickr Logo Stack Set that also will contain all new logo designs published to Logo Stack.
Twitter: Each new post gets Tweeted with a #LogoStack 'hashtag'
Tumblr: Each Logo Stack post is sent on it's merry way to my casual tumblr account, but it's not specific to Logo Stack.
Google+: As Tumblr above each new Logo Stack post is published to my Google+ feed
Subscribe to the Blog with or | Post Updated: September 14th, 2016 | First Published: March 1, 2013
Posted by: Graham Smith in Categories: Design Essentials, Flickr, Portfolio, Reviews
Affiliate Links: Links to Iconify in this post are of the affiliate variety. This means that if you sign-up to the paid plan I get a nice little financial kick-back. I don't usually do affiliate stuff, but I'm making an exception in this case
iconify.co: a clean, fast, responsive and minimal logo portfolio
I did an ever so tiny write-up on iconify.co a while back: Iconify—An Online, Responsive, Minimal & Downloadable Portfolio App before I had chance to use it myself. Now I have used it, uploaded all of my logo and icon designs, just wanted to do a quick follow up on this rather nice online portfolio.
I like it because it's so damn quick and easy to set-up and upload your work. No faffing around, no extraneous fancy extras to get in your way and slow you down from publishing a straightforward really accesible gallery of your work.
I have tried them all over the years, they come and go, with the more established ones like: Behance, Cargo Collective, Flickr etc staying the distance, but if you really want a super quick, mobile friendly platform to cleanly display your work then I can't recommend Iconify highly enough.
For me it has become the first 3rd party web based portfolio that I update, usually even before my own hosted portfolio here on imjustcreative, simply because it's just so quick and easy to update. After I have updated Iconify then I usually update the imjustcreative portfolio, then Behance and possibly Flickr if I can be arsed. I used to like CargoCollective, but just having all the customisation options there sort of makes me shudder.
Because you can set up folders on the left side navigation you can basically create self contained projects, or smaller sub portfolios.
I have created a master logo portfolio, a portfolio for my monomarks, and a folder for the few icons I have designed. There are no text entry options, not even captions which I actually love because it forces you to just focus on the imagery and let it speak for it self, which obviously also makes uploading and updating the portfolio so blindingly fast and painless.
There is a simple analytics page, as well as just two clean themes to choose from, and again: less choice means less time with draining choices to make, and I just love this about iconify.
One of the smartest features is it's mobile friendly nature, from being fully responsive on all devices right down to being able to download, from a mobile device, the portfolio as a mobile app.
If you're stressing because you don't have any kind of portfolio at this moment, then Iconify will enable you to get up and running in no time. If like me you maintain several portfolios then I think Iconify will also provide you with a version of your portfolio that is always ready and waiting to be updated in super quick time. I sometimes use my Iconify URL as I actually prefer the way it looks and works over my own portfolio on imjustcreative!
Got nothing much to lose by signing up for the free plan, then you might come to the same conclusion I have come to.
Nice little video from the folks at Iconify:
Subscribe to the Blog with or | Post Updated: September 14th, 2016 | First Published: December 18, 2012
Posted by: Graham Smith in Categories: Books, Design Essentials, Flickr, Freelance, Resources
Designer Expenses: What Do You Claim For?
Been very busy with client work of late, and so I decided to cut back on elements of blogging and twitteresque activities in order to better focus on the job at hand.
With that has come a nice sense of freedom and clarity, as well as leaving more time to deal with the annual accounts of a self-employed logo designer. I have nearly managed to get my accounts done in time for Christmas, which compared to last year is a massive improvement. Last year my poor accountant got my accounts around the 27th January!
This time round I have focused a lot more on 'expenses' and being quite rigorous with what I can claim as an 'expense'.
So, I'm somewhat curious, as a self-employed/freelance designer: what sort of things do YOU claim legitimate expenses for? Feel free to leave comments below as a helpful list for others.
Some things I have added to my 'expenses':
• Paypal Fee's
• International SWIFT/CHAP's process fee's
• Portion of household and premise utility bills (work from home)
• Studio refurbishment (3rd bedroom): decorating materials etc.
• Certain car expenses: mileage, parking, partial cost of buying car etc.
• Client work and consultation.
• Accountancy book keeping fee's. NOT preparation of tax returns!
• Advertising & Marketing: imjustcreative branded printing and stationery costs etc.
• Books & research: Self tuition/learning/training costs
• Computer Equipment & accessories
• Mobile phone bills
• BT Broadband bills
• Stationery & Postage
• Occasional client related expenses: meals, travel etc.
• Directory submission costs: logo galleries etc.
• Hosting & domains: 123-Reg, York Networks
• Web app subscriptions: Freshbooks, Vaultpress, Cage, Flickr, Evernote etc
• Application, software & typeface purchases for: Macintosh, iPhone and Android
Subscribe to the Blog with or | Post Updated: September 14th, 2016 | First Published: August 31, 2012
Posted by: Graham Smith in Categories: Brand Identity, Famous Logos, Flickr, Logo Guidelines
Some logos, NASA's included, should never have been retired. Some logos, NASA's included, were designed with such skill that they could have gone on and on and on and on.
I am still in awe over this version of the NASA logotype, and I always will be.
There are some other NASA logo posts elsewhere in my archives, like this post right here: Updated: NASA Brand Identity Guidelines 1976 which is really rather cool in itself, but the purpose of this little post is to kindly draw your gaze over to ThisIsDisplay.org where there is a lovely piece on The NASA Design Program:
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Design Program is a modernist vision for an optimistic future. The logo (often referred to as the “worm”) evokes qualities of unity, technical precision, scientific capabilities and uniqueness. Reduced to its simplest form; the one width, continuous-stroke letters are as contemporary today as when the logo was first introduced by Richard Danne (Design Director) and Bruce Blackburn (Designer) at Danne & Blackburn, New York, NY) more than 37 years ago. How then, in 1992, after 19 years, did such an emblematic design program for a future-oriented Federal Agency be dropped for it’s previous (now current) Insignia (the “meatball”)? What follows is a heartfelt personal account from Mr. Danne on the obstacles and achievements of one of the century’s most important and widely published design programs.
In case you don't like reading, and subsequently don't reach the end of the page, there is a link that will take you to Display's Flickr Set where there are millions more NASA identity design images.
Subscribe to the Blog with or | Post Updated: May 23rd, 2012 | First Published: May 22, 2012
Posted by: Graham Smith in Categories: Brand Identity, Flickr
I love this story, by former Apple employee Joe Moreno, concerning the Apple's iconic upside down logo on older laptop lids.
Many many years ago it would have been normal for a: passer by, admirer, stalker to have seen Apple's logo upside down on the lid of my open Apple Macintosh PowerBook G3 laptop (see gorgeous photographs by Flickr user Damian Ward.)
I'm proud to state, here fore the record, that I liked seeing the Apple logo the right way up as I fondled my pride and joy. I didn't concern myself with the notion that the Apple logo would now appear upside down to anyone looking over in my general vicinity.
All that mattered to me was this pure white Apple logo—remember that this was in the very early days of the monochromatic Apple logo—set against the wonderfully tactile finish of the Apple Macintosh PowerBook G3 laptop appeared the right way to me.
I don't think Apple were so odd to have wanted the Apple logo in this way. I don't think it was wrong at all, from a purely selfish don't invade my personal space perspective, to want the iconic Apple logo to be the right way up when you opened your exceedingly expensive Apple laptop.
Also bear in mind this was the laptop evolution for Apple, and I was personally besotted with this horrendously heavy Macintosh. When you spend that/this sort of money I would rather have it look right for me, and not a nosy/admiring onlooker.
It goes without saying it's not the best solution when considering how a brand identity looks to everyone else, but that's not my problem
Whilst on the subject of what works for me, I would also like the NorthFace logo, on my new hoody, to look the right way up as well.
Seeing the Apple logo the right way up was all part of the Apple experience and pride of ownership of an Apple laptop. I do recall caressing the Lombard's lid whilst simultaneously trying to wipe off my oily fingerprints with a t-shirt.
I don't think my particular aesthetic would have allowed for an upside down Apple logo experience.
Skip a few centuries and I am now used to the purity of the monochrome Apple logo as well as not considering it to be so precious. Thus I am happy for the Apple logo to practice it's siren ways on any admiring onlookers.
However, it is funny now seeing some older movies that have a Apple laptop with the upside down logo.
It totally looks silly.
Found this gorgeous photographs of a Macintosh PowerBook G3 on Damian Ward's Flickr stream.
K Found on http://www.tuaw.com
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The Logo Smith: Logo Designer & Brand Identity Design Studio, with 25 Years Experience,
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Graham Smith: 10 Badgers Copse, Seaford, East Sussex, England.
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