My Approach to Simple Logo Design

I actually find myself designing a fair share of logos for various web and branding projects for myself and clients. I freely admit that I’m not a graphic designer in any traditional sense. I certainly wouldn’t call myself one. I don’t know own or even know how to use Photoshop or Illustrator. When I set out to make a logo for my own use or a client’s, I set the expectations as low as I can. I let folks know up front they will not be getting anything fancy — I don’t do fancy — but they will get something strong, utilitarian, and unique. If they want something more than that, they should hire a real designer.

Yet, when called upon, I design using the simplest tools I know and have at my disposal — various fonts, Apple’s Pages ’09 (which I find far better for this purpose than the latest version), and Acorn. Despite the fact that I don’t consider myself a professional designer and am using what the professionals might consider amateur tools, I’m always proud of and impressed with what I’m able to achieve. Here are a few examples:

sarpa-medium

foolslogo

gr-logo-header

cramped-header-small

In many ways, I think for the purposes at hand it is an advantage that I’m not a professional. I’m forced into the constraints of both my ability and using what I have on hand. In many ways, this forces me to be more creative. To do more with less. And, that is something I believe in.

Of course, if you like the work you see above and think my skills and sensibility are a good fit for your needs, please get in touch.

Give your camera to your kid…

They don’t care about the perfect shot, nor do they wait for it. They have no clue what the “rules” are. Everything is interesting to them and worthy of being shot — especially what’s happening right now. They bring true meaning to the spirit of “point and shoot”.

Kids are not only used to telling stories, they are used to listening and watching for them too. Kids shoot what’s there. It may be blurry. You may end up with half of a face or a torso. It might be crooked or upside down. But it will likely be as authentic and real as anything you might shoot. Kids live the moment and shoot the moment.

Kids have the wonder and curiosity that adults have spent many years replacing with logic and skepticism. To a kid, what looks like some moss on a rock is, in fact, a fairy chair. That skyscraper is a rocket ship. A few trees in a park are a mighty forest where woodland creatures come alive. A kid will shoot the truth they see.

At the least, giving the camera to your kid will teach them that making art and telling stories is something everyone of all ages can do. It will teach them to respect the value of the equipment and how to handle it properly. It will let them know you trust them and that you care about what matters to them.

So, the next time you have the chance, give your kid a shot.

The Not Too Smart Home

Those that have followed me for a while know I live in a large Victorian home. And, as one would expect, we have a fairly large basement as well. If I had to guess it is about 900 square feet. Being it is a basement there are a half dozen lights spread throughout. Just simple ceramic bases to screw a bare bulb into with a short ball chain to turn them off and on. For the whole time I’ve lived in the house, if one wanted to go to the far corner of the basement they would have to snake through the dark, knowing where these lights were located, find the little pull chain, and turn on each one needed. It was kind of dangerous and so, therefore, we generally left at least a couple on all the time. It was a bit of an energy waster but it was the only logical choice.

One of the things that has improved our daily life greatly in a subtle way this year was the installation of some simple and inexpensive motion detectors into those lights. They screw in between the light and the socket. There is a simple dial to set the sensitivity level and distance so it does not go off when, say, the cat runs in front of it but still does when we do. So now, we simply walk down the stairs to the basement and the lights automatically turn on in front of us a few feet ahead we approach. Then, they automatically turn off a few minutes after we leave.

I think of this every time I see some new “smart home” product. Especially one related to lights. Because here was the sort of problem that many so called smart devices promise to solve, yet I can solve it today for under $50 (I got my detectors on sale) and a few minutes time. I don’t have to buy some fancy wi-fi enabled bulbs — I can use any bulb I want. And, the fact is, I can’t currently think of a single area of my home where I would want or need a light I can control from my phone. Or a use case that can’t be solved with technology that has already been around for years. Like the one I just solved.

This is not to say that all such technology is bad. I bought a Nest when they came out and have been happy with it. It manages the energy in our home mindfully. I barely ever have to interact with it but can get detailed reports about our heating usage if I want. It makes setting and forgetting our home temperature easy. All things that were either not available or needlessly complicated on our old thermostat. It’s a perfect example of where “smart” technology has made things better and easier. Where there was no existing non-smart product on the market that could deliver the same solution just as well or with a minimum of technology.

I think there an increasingly prevailing notion that the internet, wifi, or some other new technology automatically makes everything better. That adding more technology means convenience or ease of use. It doesn’t. And, in many cases it means the exact opposite. It means one more point of failure or one more thing to manage or one more corporation to be beholden to. In many cases, sticking the internet into the middle of things makes them worse.

What I am saying most is that I don’t want my home, or anything for that matter to be too smart. I want to be more mindful and intentional about adopting technology in a smart way. Before bringing today’s technology in as a solution, I want to make sure it is not a problem more easily solved without it. And, I want companies that consider such technology to do the same.

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