Saturday, September 7, 2013

Great Scott: Bagpipes!

A while back I designed and drew a logo for the Border Highlanders, a bagpipe band here in Moscow.  Well, I was recently asked to work up some designs for another bagpipe band called Clearwater Pipes and Drum.  Like the Border Highlanders logo, this one will also eventually be used on a drum head.

The logo needed to feature:

-The name of the band
-The Clearwater River
-The band's Latin motto

Other suggested details included thistle plants, herons, osprey, and a Celtic border/pattern.  After cogitating on the project for several days, I worked up the first round of concepts:

 Most of them, as you can see, feature the Heron.  I've always admired the elegance of the Heron and thought it would make a nice graphic element in the logo.  The first concept is fairly straightforward: A heron in the foreground, the river and sunset behind.  I imagined the final version of this logo would look something like stained glass, which would be striking (heh heh...a "striking" drum cover...) and also, due to its relative visual simplicity, visible from some distance away (another of the prerequisites).

Second from the top is based the medieval family crests (I used mostly Scottish and German reference images).  I think this concept has the strongest conceptual tie in (given the national origin of the bagpipe and all) and also made for a nice, symmetrical design.  Plus, I was able to incorporate the thistle plants in this one.

Concept no. 3 was an unconventional approach.  In looking at photos of bagpipes and herons, it occurred to me that they're somewhat similarly shaped.  I tried several different variations on this design, but this is the only one that was half-way decent.

Finally, a very simple layout (one of the requests for this logo was that it remain fairly uncluttered so as to be visible from a distance).  Just the river and the thistle.

There were all sorts of unsuccessful ideas that I tried and abandoned for one reason or another.  Mostly because they were awful.  Here are a couple of the least-hideous:

Some were too busy.  Some were just ugly.  Some didn't include enough of the references.

There was one idea in particular that I thought was brilliant: I wanted to create an image where the curve of the Heron's neck was also the curve of the Clearwater river.  I must have tried a half dozen different versions of that idea, but I could never make it work.

That's one thing I've learned from a myriad of projects over the last decade:  No matter how great I think an idea is, sometimes it just doesn't translate visually.  I try not to get too attached to any particular idea (I'm only marginally successful at this).  If it's not working, cut it loose and move on.  The value I place on any particular idea and the success of the project itself aren't necessarily related.


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