Wednesday, June 29, 2011

PCS Initials

Pun intended.  I think puns are underrated.  Judging by the heavy sighs and eye rolling I often get in response to my excellent and clever puns, people completely agree with me.

The Palouse Choral Society is, as the name might suggest, exactly what it sounds like.  And a whole lot more.  It's a diverse group of people from a fairly large geographic area who all have a passion for singing classical music.  I was asked recently to create a logo for them.

As I've mentioned before, I love a challenge.  Which means there was plenty to love on this project.  Just about every element of the organization and subsequent design is abstract.  The words that best describe the core elements of PCS aren't easily distilled into images (community, passion, craftsmanship, etc).  And many of the descriptors have ultra-ubiquitous pre-fabricated images attached to them.  I did my best to avoid these like that Skippers/gas station on the south side of town.

Here's what I came up with.  My favorite is the nest with blue and brown.  I think the color combination and the composition are strong.  However, the connection to the actual subject matter wasn't particularly apparent.  The nest is meant to symbolize community, but conceptually it does little to explain the organization.

Monday, June 13, 2011

They say it's next to godliness

Decagon has an isotherm generator called the "Vapor Sorption Analyzer". On the outside chance you're not sure what that is, the VSA provides data on the water activity of certain products, which can effect expiration dates, shipping, product stability, etc.

There's currently some software being developed for the VSA and I was asked to come up with some concepts for the software icon (along with the splash screen which I'll get to later). Here are the results.

Yet again, I found this project to be more fun than it probably should have been. And I'm not exactly sure why, but I'll guess:

1.) I like the cleanliness, efficiency and utilitarian nature of logo and icon work like this. I'm sure there are any number of people familiar with my work who would say that my illustration, regardless of subject matter, is cleanliness incarnate. Although I won't argue that my work is pretty clean, this kind of logo work is an extreme version of that. And it's pretty fun to see how far you can push something.

2.) I'm a huge, gigantic nerd and doing design work for a company that makes scientific instruments is the closest I'll ever get to being a scientist (which would be cool). I've always been fascinated by most things sciencey (rock crystals, geodes, potato clocks, etc), but I'm lacking in the science-brain department.

3.) I love a challenge. The last logo design project, in terms of difficulty, was like pulling teeth. And, that having been said, I'm like Bill Murray in "Little Shop of Horrors" (who loves getting his teeth pulled). For me, there are few things as satisfying as coming up with a bevy of ideas in an attempt to distill a complex issue or idea into a manageable graphic.

The disclaimer here is that I genuinely believe there are few to no logos that can fully express a complex issue. Logos are necessarily abbreviations. They're just a starting point.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Several months ago (before the logo redesign and banner projects), the Latah County Historical Society asked me to put together some designs for the interpretive sign in front of McConnell Mansion. Here's the original post:

A concept has been chosen and this week I put together several variations of it. And here they be.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Blog Logo Final

Here's the final version (along with a few iterations) of the logo for the new Decagon blog. Of the versions including text, the middle is the tentative final.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


I spent years doing political cartoons. Probably drew thousands of them. Literally thousands. And of those, I don't suppose more than a handful were even worth reading. Up until recently, I've always considered my attempt at editorial cartooning to be a failure. I mean, even if I had 20 cartoons that were worth their salt, that's still a pretty bad ratio.

But now I see it as being beneficial in a couple of ways I never really anticipated. 1.) Great drawing practice. 2.) Good skin thickener (I'm thinking of selling the idea to Maybelene). 3.) All the times I spent thinking about political and social issues, most of which are incredibly complex, and trying to distill those issues down to something that can fit into a black and white 8.5" x 11" space was great design practice. Cartooning is about many things, but perhaps one of the most important things you learn is economy. Economy of space, of words, of images, etc. It's figuring out how to cram a big idea into such a small space (don't worry, I'm coming to the point).

It turned out to be invaluable for logo work, which in many ways is a similar process. A logo is often just a very simple graphic representation of an idea or a group of ideas. There seems to be a complexity continuum. A logo for a single product, for instance, might be relatively straightforward. On the other end of the spectrum are logos meant to represent more complex ideas. And that's where it gets tricky.

This logo could be one of the most difficult I've ever worked on. It's for Decagon. Specifically, it's for a new blog Decagon has started up. Check it out here:

A brief description of the blog is "The casual conversations that initiate scientific progress." It's about many things, including but not exclusive to: Natural science, conversation, ideas, innovation, discovery, excitement, inspiration, education and wonder. The blog is a great read, even for a non-science person like myself. The problem is in the number of intangible elements there. A logo for even one of those things would be difficult. This one has multiple concepts behind it.

So I thought about it. And thought. And thought. And now my brain hurts. But here's what I came up with. I'm meeting with the client tonight to go over the concepts and keeping my fingers crossed I came up with something they find interesting.

LCRI revisions

Here's round 2 of the recycling process project. There were a few changes requested, including labeling each item and the inclusion of several new illustrations. Overall, though, the piece seems to have gone over fairly well.