Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Design work can be a mystery sometimes. I often wonder how visionary designers like Scott Hansen, Lance Wyman and James White get the jobs they do. But there's no mystery really. Visionary designers create visionary work. They do so, I think, with two things: a deep, abiding passion for design, and a lot of hard, nonstop work. One thing Bethany Shorb has shown me is that even great creatives with great ideas have to work their arses off.
For some time now I've been searching for a way to feel as though I'm more than just a working designer. In my work, clients present a need, and I fill it. I work hard and my clients are happy. I am compensated accordingly for my work and there we have my job. My job. So what's missing? What's missing is – maybe "missing" is the wrong word - what's not where it should be is the abiding passion. Not a passion for admiring design, but a passion for producing it.
The aforementioned search took a big step this week when I decided that doing the kind of work I want to do will, not may, will require doing it for myself and possibly no one else. (That's not to say someone else couldn't find it desirable someday of course.) With that in mind I set out to create the above poster. This poster was not requested by any client. I will not be paid for it and it may never be produced. However, this poster and the impetus for creating it are two of the first things I've created since closing Primary Space in 2006 that I am truly excited about. It represents for me a step that has to be taken every day. The willingness to produce design that could not only meet a client need, but that meets a need in me as well.
["RISE. The Millennial Mayors Congress", is a teaser poster for a new organization created by the Suburbs Alliance (see earlier logo post).]
I have just completed an identity design for my first client in New York City since moving here over the summer. Daniel A. D'Ordine contracted me to design his consultancy's logo. He provides investment and financial planning. We discussed the modernization of the financial industry's identity trends and agreed that Wall Street has been moving away from more conservative logos and branding. See Morgan Stanley and TIAA/CREF as examples. It's no longer the serif rich, engraving style fonts that front finance house and partnerships these day.
Dan wanted to appeal both to his established, elder clientele as well as expand his client base to include young professionals including creatives and artists. With that in mind I set out to create a logo that was both contemporary, keeping pace with modern identities, and professional so as not to startle any of the establishment.
The recently completed identity for the Millennial Mayors Congress, a program from the Suburbs Alliance. Quite possibly one of the most difficult logo challenges I've had in the last 10 years. It may look simple enough, but getting here was no small task.
The client wanted a meaningful, but abstract expression of this org's tenants, without using overt imagery like initials, or iconography that directly represents the name itself. The process required 8 rounds of designs and revisions, most rounds containing 9 or more concepts. I don't normally create that much imagery for a logo design but, as I said, this one was a monster. Why couldn't it just be a simple "MMC"?
I know the answer of course. And I'm damn glad for it.