The Life of Logos

One of my very first graphic design projects in college was to design a logo. It was a collaborative project in which I took direction from another student who played the client. He had a lot of input and a great sense of style. It’s been over 20 years since that project, yet I can still picture the final logo we created even if I can’t find a copy of it anywhere. That to me is the power of a logo: it makes a lasting impression.

With the perspective of a career where designing logos has been pretty constant, I strive to create marks for businesses that will endure for years and years. I’m fascinated by the creative process of collaborating with my clients to determine what statement their business is trying to convey to their customers and distilling that down to a simple mark, whether a literal or abstract interpretation, that will convey that very message whether it’s the size of a postage stamp or a billboard.

The beauty of logos is that they express a relevant message without clogging it up with too much detail.

Government seals could learn a thing or two from a well-designed logo: do you really have to show the shape of the country or state, an eagle, stars and stripes, a man plowing the fields of his farm, and a motto in type so small you can’t read it without a magnifying glass? Isn’t that a little much? The message gets lost unless it’s as large as your hand. Of course, all that detail comes in handy when you’re trying to authenticate a document: if something is missing, it’s easily identified as fraudulent. (The history of our country’s seal found on Wikipedia is fascinating if you’re interested in reading more.)

Some of my favorite marks are found in Asia’s history of family crests. The family crest (mon) was used to identify an individual or family. Japanese traditional formal attire displays the crest of the wearer. My cousin’s husband, whose heritage is from Japan, gave me the honor of recreating some of his family’s crests to be block printed and framed as gifts. To assist me, he gave me as a reference a photo of his family crest carved in an ancestor’s head stone in Japan. That’s how important these family symbols are in that culture: they are passed down from generation to generation and are recognizable to those who were in some way a part of that family’s history.

 LEFT TO RIGHT: The family crest is found on the headstone in Japan; a carved linoleum block to print the crest on rice paper; the computer generated family crest

LEFT TO RIGHT: The family crest is found on the headstone in Japan; a carved linoleum block to print the crest on rice paper; the computer generated family crest

A good logo can stand the test of time and still convey so much without saying everything. What is left unsaid visually, what is hinted at but not spelled out literally in a logo, makes a memorable mark, because it gives the viewer the opportunity to engage in the process.

In short, logos are an art form, one that I gravitate to over and over again.

I hope you’ll take a look in the Studio Haus logo gallery at just a few of the marks I’ve created with my clients in recent history. If you have a need for a logo, or know someone who does, please stay in touch. I can promise you that the creation will be a fun and well-thought-out process. It’s what I love to do!