I think most designers and artists have that moment, while working on a project, when a spark brings all the elements together in a flash. I had one of those moments tonight while working on a logo for an employee council at work.
The project started with the usual circle, a popular form at work. That was version 1. Before hitting the hay (after camping the night before and still recovering from that), I cranked out version two, which was more text based, but had some elements from version 1. Sitting down tonight to tweak version 2, I looked around for more inspirations for some visualization of the “employee council” concept. Finally I just searched on “employee” and came across a stock graphic from Adobe. Sparking an idea, I used the concept in that stock graphic to create the final icon.
In this case, it took finding the right inspiration to kickstart the process. I think the end result finally captured the concept well. The actual final version for the employee council, naturally, has more elements.
I decided to start a more formal design presence, it was a pretty leap to take my signature design (at least one variation) and build a logo from it. Adding some blocky, almost stencil-like letters to convey the “DMD” concept was also an easy start, even with the second “D” being reversed to add a nice ‘cradle’ for the face.
Reading through Instragram today and scanning the search area, I came across a graphic designer that had some wonderful logo designs. Many of them were beautifully laid out based on clean lines. While I have no allusions of reach that artist’s skill, I was intrigued by his use of lines and combining things.
So, cracking open Inkscape, I decided to experiment on a new logo that was more simplistic logo that could be applied to less ‘tactical’ designs and projects. My plan was to combined the “D” and “M” of Data Monkey. With that simple plan, I cranked out the designs below. There is a subtle difference – the upward line for the “M” borrows the curve from the “D” on the righthand design, versus the straight of the left.
Not in a hurry to change my logo, but thought this was a nice experiment, and something to potentially use in the future.
With life, some projects come to a standstill. In my case, work on Trigrams and some other card decks came to a hiatus. In an effort to keep some personal work alive related to those projects, I decided to research the real cost of a Kickstarter project, mostly focusing on Trigrams.
With the few articles I read, the sobriety of reality set in. While games like Exploding Kittens and Cards Against Humanity were runaway hits, many other funded projects ended up either completely breakeven or net loss for the teams.
So, why discuss here? My design work, as mentioned before, is mostly a hobby. While I do occasionally sell patches on eBay, it’s not my primary occupation. Reality revealed itself that some of my projects may simply remain concepts, some more developed than others. Much like my military rank card deck, other forces seem to stall the best-laid design plans.
For now, it seems some of these projects will remain ‘in the vault’ as it were. Perhaps, at some point, the stars will align and my creations will move from drafting table to reality. Or maybe a benevolent patron will stumble my way 😉
The bulk of my design work is self-initiated, with a few requests scattered in. I’ve received requests at work, or suggestions to submit ideas. The one area I really haven’t strayed into is the world of commissions, where a new customer requests a design based on a concept. I’ve thought about adding a ‘services’ page to my portfolio, but haven’t taken the step.
My main worry is that design right now is mostly self-expression, an outlet for my sarcasm and critiques on things in the world. I also have to balance my day job with any potential work (not expecting to quit the day job by any means).
If anyone has thoughts on this, please let me know. This is definitely one of those times I wish Jacquie was here to consult.
Color is one of the key things to design. Choose the right color, it evokes certain emotions, as does the wrong. There are way too many colors in nature to truly see them all. For designers, it becomes a matter of palettes or collections of colors. Some designers will simply look up colors with no real set collection, going with what colors seem to fit or the customer wants. Others may chose more set schemes based on their own design philosophy.
I recent picked up a book called color index from a used bookstore. Adding a color guide to my bookshelf is something I’ve needed to do for awhile. Many of my designs tend to be a very earth tone, largely due to the ‘tactical’ or military aesthetic to them.
I’ve also taken to noting car paint colors, both for my own interest for future purchases and as a reference for colors I like and want to add to my palette. To be honest, I hadn’t actually created a palette either. I just picked colors as I needed, maybe not always sticking with the same similar color across designs.
So… I decided, while looking up car paint colors, to start collecting colors. Using the Encycolorpedia (trying saying that one fast…), I start shopping colors for my palette. As you can see, still very earth tone, but will hopefully give me a more consistent collection.
To quote Yogurt from Spaceballs – “Moychandising, moychandising, moychandising”
As you saw with my Best Woman design, I’ve tinkered with the print-on-demand (POD) idea before. So, now with my expanded portfolio compared to my early Cafe Press days, I’m contemplating building another store for the monkeys and other designs.
Now comes the question of which provider to use. While Cafe Press was my first go at POD products, I may try a new vendor this time. I’ve played around with some of the various ones, but still doing some product exploration.
I know t-shirts are prerequisite for POD (pretty much), I’m also thinking of other things to offer like mugs, electronic cases, maybe skateboards (one vendor does offer those).
I also need to figure out which designs to offer. Stencil, cheeky, and flying monkey are already on the list. I may also throw in some of the more irreverent designs.
Do designs just magically pop from mind to screen? Lord I wish so. Any artist will likely tell you that design or art is a process. A thought or inspiration sparks in the mind, then the fun of making that spark into something real.
My prime design, the data monkey, was no different. Born about 7 years ago, it started off in a much different fashion. The concept was fairly simple: make a path with a monkey and tabs to say ‘secret’ and ‘data monkey.’ Seemed easy enough. Well… As you can see below, the early attempts were pretty basic. You’ll also see a multitude of spin-offs that came quickly from the original.
Most of these early iterations were very much design, not so much art. Combine elements to get a thought across. Since then, as you can see from the overall theme of this blog and my portfolio, I found a little more art to use with the design.
I admit at times to fixating on the initial design/concept, but have learned to sometimes stop and let it rest for a bit. While elements may carry through, the difference between initial and final can be striking at times.