The beauty of calligraphy in logo design is that it is alive and created by hand. Unlike a font each letter can be customized in an organic way. Here are some samples from my portfolio recently posted on Workbook. Each one shows a different way of combining letterforms and symbols. Sometimes a design works best through contrast, as with the rough brush icon of the globe with the sans serif typography laid over it. In the case of the Publix Premium logo above, an illustrative element in the same style as the lettering creates a look of high end elegance and harmony that can be used across multiple products within the store.
See more of my work mixing symbols and letter forms in my Illustrations and Icons portfolios.
I am excited to see big changes at The Workbook, where I have been part of the illustration and design community for many years. They have just launched a dramatic redesign of their online portfolios, and I am very impressed. Take a peek at my portfolios at Workbook.com.
Here are a few pages of icon designs I put together for my new portfolios that show how calligraphic thinking can lead to unique ways of looking at archetypal symbols.
Above, a small part of one of my favorite projects, created for Neiman Marcus for their spring fashion catalog. Each butterfly represents a different personal style of fashion.
When I created a logo for the University of Washington School of Music I did probably 50+ variations on the treble clef. This is one of my favorites, in a set that mixes colorways and media to evoke the experience of music.
How many times have you seen a cute panda logo?? There are still new ways to visit this little guy. Some of the many approaches I did with sumi ink, showing how personality and a unique line quality can revive a familiar symbol.
This client had a last name starting with S, and a passion for seahorses. These are some of the different ways I looked at incorporating the two elements.
These days when virtually all design and illustration portfolios are shown online, having a beautiful platform to show work in-depth is essential. The platform itself can inspire new ways of thinking. I can’t wait to see how designers and creative directors respond to the new Workbook design.
Cancelling everything else on my calendar to watch the first debate tonight. Heavy medication will be called for. When all else fails don’t forget the Basset Hound Channel. I always love watching a dog dance on a bottle.
Ink illustration © Iskra Design
A Father-Daughter collaboration, calligraphy, photography, watercolor
There are certain phrases and titles of books that I have been going back to for years as a touchstone. Nabokov’s memoir, Speak Memory is one of those. I could design the cover of that book a thousand ways. This version is a personal elegy to my father. Before he became a newspaper reporter he took about eight “art photographs” and put them in a little album which was passed down to me. The flowers are from that album, a tiny little black and white snap from the time of film and sprockets, when dust and scratches made themselves without a filter.
I do adore photocollage, and the infinite ways we can now merge media. Here I have blended my father’s photography with a painting and calligraphy of my own, a script done with a ruling pen and walnut ink. To collaborate in this way is a lovely way to bring someone who is gone back into your life.
A Logo Project Inspired by the Street
This month I had the opportunity to use my obsession with street art in a logo design for a client. Seven large ad agencies had recently merged to form a new agency called Sandbox. One of the original seven, GA Communications, wanted to create a specific look for its community outreach division that would express the attributes of its internal culture. Among the ideas given as reference: “Collaborative, Creative, Fun, Social and Confident.” A logo for the name, “Orange” had already begun in-house, based on a standard script font. It was close to what they were looking for, but it didn’t feel distinct or proprietary and the design team wanted to see a new approach reflecting the energy and creativity of graffiti. I was also asked to make a little movie or otherwise document my process.
Photographing the street is one of my favorite ways to spend my time, and in my archives I have thousands of pictures of graffiti, abandoned buildings and the shredded poetry of telephone poles. I knew there was a good chance that the final logo would end up being quite conservative, but this project seemed like the ideal opportunity to open things up and go wild. I did a photo shoot looking for everything orange on the street. I experimented with many media, ranging back and forth between the different languages and moods of graffiti. This was heaven.
I started out with black ink, working quickly to find new twists on the fonts that had been sent as reference.
Switching things up I started working with actual orange, what a concept! With colored ink and paints the weight of pigment in the water makes for a different feeling in the brush and leads to subtle differences in how the letters emerge.
To start this project I went out to study walls for a day. I think I have fallen in love with balloon letters. They are insanely creative and all kinds of design problems get solved in an instant on the fly with a spray can. Even if you are trying to be a bad#ss you can’t really convince anybody if you use this style. Balloon letters are fundamentally friendly and silly. The world could use a lot more of that.
The final choice of style came down to these two. On the top, dry brush on watercolor paper, and the lower one, pen and ink on offset paper. After many iterations to finesse legibility the lower one was chosen. The influence of graffiti is very faint, but I hope some of the spirit of adventure can be read between the lines.
Take a look at my portfolios to see more expressive lettering for advertising design.