From our archives – the step-by-step design process for a highly-detailed and technically complex illustrative logo for a tattoo parlor.
Ya gotta go simple, most people will tell you. To be sure, minimalist iconic logos are usually where it’s at and as a rule of thumb, simple logos are generally the best answer for the majority of applications. On the flip-side, we’ve never been shy about our love for illustrative logos (something for which we’ve often been criticized) and embrace the style quite enthusiastically. Personally speaking, I always love the craftsmanship that goes into these types of logos, and while I agree that simplistic is usually preferable to complicated, there’s also times when a full-blown illustrative treatment is what the design doctor put on his RX pad. This is one of them.
The creative brief
There’s an entire subculture to the tattoo scene (I don’t have one so don’t know, my daughter who has a few, tells me this.) There are certain expectations in the graphic art that’s aimed at it – it has to be rebelious and a little edgy. That’s also what the creative brief for Mad Hatter Tattoo told us. They wanted “crazy,” “zany,” “over the top,” and “wild.” Something that “really stood out.” I think we pulled it off nicely.
Sure, copyright infringement sucks, but it isn’t theft. Fair use isn’t really a thing, and the government won’t help you enforce your copyrights. We tackle the sometimes confusing area of design ownership and property rights and debunk the top 13 misconceptions about copyright.
Before we begin, let’s get this out of the way: I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on the Tee Vee. Any legal stuff you’re about to read is worth pretty much what you paid for it, and for serious legal advice on copyright, trademark and related matters, you should always, always, consult a live attorney. With that out of the way, we can begin..
Ah yes, copyright. It’s either the magic bullet to protect your intellectual property rights, or not worth a thin red dime, depending on who you talk you. Truth is, both are sorta true. Copyright will protect your artwork to a great degree, but there’s no copyright enforcement agency just waiting for your call when that great design of yours shows up somewhere it shouldn’t. So, what exactly is copyright? Let’s quote some legal guys:
“A copyright, by definition, is a set of exclusive rights granted by a state to the creator of an original work or their assignee for a limited period of time upon disclosure of the work. This includes the right to copy, distribute and adapt the work.”
Basically, copyright is the right to copy something. Print it. Put it on T-shirts. Throw it on a website. The idea behind copyright protection is quite simple – it was originally intended for books because as a society we realized that they were integral to our well-being, and people had to be encouraged to write. If they spent half their lives writing this tome or that, only to have it knocked-off by some other unscrupulous author, there wouldn’t be much incentive and nobody would bother writing anything. By allowing an author to copyright his work, he could monetize it, and thus would continue to write great stuff that would enlighten society as a whole. Nowadays it applies to art, music, drawings, photographs and just about anything that can be created (except for ideas and words – patents and trademarks would protect those.) In the context of this blog, we’re going to talk about design in general, logos in specific, and because there’s a lot of nonsense floating around about copyright, we’re going to have a go at the top thirteen common misconceptions and debunk them, one at a time.
From dancers to writers, designers to musicians, the expectation of free work from the creative industries has become ubiquitous. While working for little or no pay has been gussied up under the so-called “sharing economy” by “disruptive” companies, it’s still not a good idea.
Picked up a great read on the Twitter machine a couple of days ago. It wasn’t specifically about design per se (though it did touch on some of the creative industries) using Lena Dunham‘s upcoming Not that Kind of Girl tour as a framework. Entitled Don’t work for free for rich people, It bemoaned the current trend of creatives and artists being expected to work for free, either to get a foot in the door, or as part of a speculative pitch in the hopes of getting hired. The takeaway is this:
“This isn’t just about unpaid labor. One reason people, especially young people with creative aspirations, work for free is to form valuable relationships that will push their careers forward. But you can’t form a valuable relationship with a rich person who can afford to but won’t pay you a reasonable wage, because your entire relationship with that rich person is based on their failure to acknowledge the value of the work you’re doing for them.”
That all rings true, no? If your work isn’t valuable enough to pay for from the get-to, how do you expect it to be viewed differently down the road. We can bring it full circle:
As the Western Bulldogs logo flap illustrates, it’s probably best to keep your new logo design under wraps until you’re ready for full bore implementation. Otherwise, you may have your lovely new mark sniped from under you.
A couple of days ago in our random design goodness feature, I told you that we were reluctant to post, tease or leak client material until it had been locked down, or at least released into the wild by the client themselves. There are several reasons for this, the most important being that when logos are tossed willy-nilly onto the internet, they’re vulnerable to getting knocked off PDQ. Sure, showing off our upcoming new logos is fun and all, but if they’re not at least moderately protected, we run the risk of them getting snapped up by folks who are, to be charitable, ethically challenged. Then we get to play a game of “who’s the chicken, who’s the egg?” in order to wrestle rightful ownership back and to stop the usurper from using our stuff to promote their stuff. This is a real and ongoing issue for designers and design buyers alike, has been for a while now and yep, it’s even happened to us when we were a little hasty in teasing some internal logos and WIP logo projects. Which brings us to today, on Twitter, when a story broke out that illustrated this position quite succinctly.
Out with the old. In with the new
Our tale features two players – The Mornington Cricket Club a Melbourne-based organization that’s been around for over a hundred years, and the Western Bulldogs, an Australian football team, also known as the Footscray Football Club and also from Melbourne. They’re no youngsters themselves, having been around in one form or another since 1877. For several years, the Bulldogs’ logo (referred both affectionately and disparagingly as RoboDog) looked like this:
A funky new look for our Logopalooza series.
We’ve been using the term Logopalooza off and on for years now. It was the title of this blog when we first launched. It became our rather intermittent book series, then eventually our podcast. All of them required logos. From the beginning, I knew we needed – this was supposed to be a ‘celebration’ of logos, so it had to be funky. Upbeat. Maybe even a little zany. When we designed the logo back in 2006, we even had a little dancing dude (who was plugged into an iPod for the podcast series.) For what it’s worth, here’s how everything looked back then:
Trouble is, I was never happy with it. Sure, it worked with the theme but it just wasn’t there. The longer it hung around, the less “there” it became. The entire concept revolved around the logo being consistent and yet we kept changing it with each outing. The little dancing guy came and went. The font stayed the same, but we changed its configuration. And so on. Logopalooza remained one of “those” internal projects – something that we’d get around to redesigning when we had the time. Well, this weekend I took the time and had another stab at it. You can tell me how successful I was.