Hand lettered cover art for Gone Troppo’s latest surf-rock single. Available to purchase from CD Baby.
Cover designs for a new track by art-music collective Gone Troppo. This was an interesting design process, due to the songwriter requesting the investigation of an alternative approach that further referenced the ‘sand’ element from the song. My initial thoughts were that without the high contrast of the original blue & yellow design, the overall impression created by the thin linework would be too diluted and therefore not stand out enough at the small scale of an icon, which is where this artwork would mainly be viewed.
As it turned out, the design still works well with a lighter textured background and my concerns were proven incorrect. This is always an interesting part of the design process for me, and something I’ve regularly communicated to clients when changes are discussed. Many requested changes are often very difficult to judge accurately before simply trying them to see the actual impact on the finished design. Experience has shown me that some small adjustments can have a significant negative effect on a design, dramatically changing the flow, appearance or readability in a way that myself and/or the client will not accept. Current digital production methods certainly make it far easier to alter artwork and investigate options, especially compared to when my artwork was mostly hand drawn and assembled – but any changes incur extra time (and usually money) so the designer is responsible for efficiently advising a client and resolving all queries without futile and costly exploration.
My design features various elements from the song itself: a diamond, travel, a broken heart, the universe and a sunrise. The track is available to download at CD Baby.
My ‘slightly grungy’ icon illustration for Gone Troppo’s instrumental track Jack’s Ride – a spaghetti western movie theme. Available to listen on Soundcloud.
A new instrumental electronic track built in GarageBand. The cover icon design features title typography constructed from a single line set on a gridded base, and as with my Propulsion project features an image from the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System.
Further to my original Soundscapes designs, here are half a dozen new cd cover/icon designs – this time however, they are not exclusively constructed only with photography as the main visual element. This set has a greater focus on graphic design, so includes pieces using digital illustration (SEBAN) and custom type (BAUXER, OHLBITRAS), together with a range of photographic textures and effects.
Personal identity design project for games developer MONKEYBOMB. Above are shown the main logo (full version) and secondary logotype, along with splash screens for mobile devices.
This idea formed whilst working on a creative solution for another project, and is easily one of my quickest ever logo designs! The key for this identity was to produce a bold and direct icon, from which all other elements would follow in structure and style, to create a high impact, strongly contrasting, casually informal appearance.
I have a large collection of unused (and sometimes poorly taken) photographs lurking about on my hard drive – all looking to be shown, or for somewhere to usefully belong. As I’ve been listening to a lot of new music lately, I naturally decided to create a few album covers and/or icons for some fictional artists, which is a design practice I regularly undertook in my earlier years to explore creative ideas.
All of these would be musically categorised as either atmospheric alternative, ambient instrumental, or down-tempo electronic, and feature enhanced and edited versions of some of my photos within economical designs.
Have created a new tumblr site, just for showcasing my identity and logo designs. The first post is this stylish new logo for Black Circle Hatters.
Have been experimenting with a few more designs for my digital arachnid, first posted back in January. The aim here is to simply produce quick options, similar to my Player Won logotype posters – again using classic retro video game styling in different patterns. The 8-bit era offers plenty of scope for interesting colour and shape combinations, often giving the opportunity to juxtapose elements in bold ways, which is highly typical of designs and illustrations from that era.
Since creating the original icon design I’ve settled on the ‘retro devotion‘ tagline, which adds emphais to the idea of being bitten by the 8-bit bug – or spider in this case!
Where are the divisions between brand, identity, visual style and overall communication standards? The borders are frequently blurred (even to those who should know better) and confusion is often created when the individual impact of all these elements is misunderstood within a cohesive and complete ‘brand’ style.
The logo is the central mark, devised to visually represent the company, product or service as a concise graphic symbol, representational of the preferred or appropriate look and desired customer perception. As a quick visual tool, the logo aims to link all branded components together, aid easy recognition, and differentiate between competitors. The visual identity system and overall branding approach follows and builds on from this point, by assembling and promoting knowledge via all communication methods, conforming to agreed values, standards and deliverable results.
Creation of a logo requires solid understanding of client, market and technical (print, application, distribution) needs, and is a process demanding elimination of unrequired detail and a sharp focus on efficient construction, usage flexibility, and a matching of substance with style. The function and purpose of a logo generally requires a design with limited complexity – a distillation of many ideals into one, strong identifier. Simplification is not always easy to achiever however, and developing a unique form and style within saturated markets can be a very difficult creative challenge. Also, if the core concept underpinning an identity misses the mark and fails to register a positive reception, then supporting elements will struggle to solve this inherent issue.
Planning and methodology
Successful logo designs will regularly exhibit both creative spark and robust technical foundations, without relying on current visual trends, showy effects or visual leaps of faith. Legibility and recognition at small sizes and/or for usage on surfaces not able to hold detail is also an important factor in the construction of a finished design.
Although not as important today, due to the overwhelming shift towards digital delivery and the availability of full colour, preparing options for single colour and reversed (negative) reproduction is still a requirement I believe is important for any designer involved in identity and branding work, and should be part of the suite of available identity assets for the client to utilise. It is also a helpful process to assist the designer in achieving a streamlined design concept.
Logos created in vector format are generally better prepared to meet all identity needs, as they offer the unlimited scalability required for large format display and signage applications. Appropriate and considered construction choices should always be an essential part of design planning, otherwise usage difficulties and production shortfalls may be undesirably present.
RSSA: case in point
Above is a recent redesign of mine for the Royal Society of South Australia. This concept is based around a simple typographical focus on the RSSA acronym. The Society’s diverse scientific interests helped to form this visual approach, ie deliberately avoiding reference to any particular field with a recognisable visual. The intention was to provide a current day sensibility regarding identity design and construction, in combination with more traditional styling for a long established scientific body. To aid this desire, a modern serif was chosen as the primary font and a secondary sans serif for the tagline versions. These fonts were chosen as a combination for their ability to convey this future/past feel.
The icon structure has the added effect of allowing the reading of ‘RS’ & ‘SA’ in either direction, and utilises the Society’s formation date within the design, as it adds historical weight and relevance, plus is also a small visual indicator regarding who and what the RSSA represents.
Form = function
Devising appealing, flexible and long-lasting logos is a task requiring more than a simple cut and paste methodology – there are no shortcuts to achieving a quality logo or full identity system. Graphic design demands understanding and appreciation of many important considerations, and the formation of a professional concept and finished design will rely on an individual’s recognition and acceptance of these known principles.
Three icons for music projects:
- Gone Troppo – identity illustration for a ‘virtual’ band – completed mainly with Illustrator’s blob brush.
- When I First Met You – Photographic montage in Photoshop. This is a square section from the full panorama.
- My Son – Photoshop multi-layered composition, consisting of a scanned pencil sketch and various mark making styles with brushes and layer effects.