Toot! Toot!*: Jeff Fisher book signing
at St. Johns Booksellers - November 8th

31 October 2007
For immediate release

St. Johns Booksellers, the neighborhood bookstore of North Portland graphic designer and author Jeff Fisher, will be the location of a presentation and book signing for his new book, Identity Crisis!: 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities Into Successful Brands, on Thursday, November 8th at 7:30 p.m. Bookstore owners Liz Dorman and Nena Rawdah will host the event in their store, located at 8622 N. Lombard in the St. Johns neighborhood - about 15 minutes north of downtown Portland.

Identity Crisis!, a HOW Books/F+W Publications release, takes a fresh look at 50 before and after case studies, from designers and firms from around the world, by exploring the process of redesigning existing identities to help businesses refine their image, communicate with customers, and find success. Designers seeking inspiration - and any business considering a graphic makeover - will be presented an inside look at the challenges of redesigning identities and visual examples of creative and strategic thinking in achieving the desired results.

The work of Portland design firms Fullblast, Inc., Sockeye Creative and Jeff Fisher LogoMotives, and Salem company Glitschka Studios, is featured in the book. Jack Anderson, of the Seattle firm Hornall Anderson Design Works wrote the foreward for Identity Crisis!

Title: Identity Crisis! 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities Into Successful Brands
Hardbound: 216 pages
Publisher: HOW Books, an imprint of F+W Publications
Release: September 2007
ISBN: 1581809395
Price: $35.00

St. Johns Booksellers is a full-service, independent neighborhood bookstore offering new and used books. Anyone having questions about the Identity Crisis! book signing event is encouraged to contact the store at 503.283.0032, Tuesdays through Sunday.

For more information, visit the Identity Crisis! blog. A downloadable PDF file of some teaser spreads is also available on the blog of publisher HOW Books.

Jeff Fisher, the Engineer of Creative Identity for the Portland firm Jeff Fisher LogoMotives, has received nearly 575 regional, national and international graphic design awards for his logo and corporate identity efforts. His work is featured in nearly 100 books on the design of logos, the business of graphic design, design education, and small business marketing. In addition, Fisher also writes for, HOW Magazine and other design resources; and speaks about the design profession to high school classes, college students, and at international design industry conferences.

Fisher is a member of the HOW Magazine Editorial Advisory Board, the HOW Design Conference Advisory Council and the UCDA Designer Magazine Editorial Advisory Board. His first book, The Savvy Designer's Guide to Success, was released by HOW Design Books in late 2004

(* If I don't "toot!" my own horn, no one else will.)

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

The proper care and feeding
of the in-house graphic designer

We often hear horror stories of bosses who make the life of a staff designer miserable. Such situations make creativity and productivity very difficult, if not impossible. Years ago, while I was the art director of the Multnomah County Medical Society in Portland, I had the most incredible supervisor I have ever experienced. She respected her staff, didn't stifle the day-to-day operations of the publications design department with micro-management, and constantly rewarded and thanked staff members for jobs well done.

In appreciation for putting in long hours, to note the finalizing a major project effort, or to celebrate the department receiving some outside recognition, she would put what she referred to as a "creative hall pass" into action. Staff would be given extra time off, sent out of the office to "recharge" their creativity, or told to head down to a local pub for a "coffee break."

Over the years I have expanded on the idea of, what I now call, the "Creative Freedom Pass." I have also come up with 10 tips for those responsible for the proper care and feeding of the in-house graphic designer. The following was first presented at a CreativeBloc conference sponsored by the Marketing, Advertising & Communication Professionals of Northeast Iowa.

A Designer User's Manual

Ten simple tips, presented as a primer to clients, employers and those supervising design staffs, to encourage improved performance from their graphic designers.

1. Avoid Smothering

Your designer does most often realize who is the boss. Don’t over-manage, or smother, your “creative type.” Allow your designer the time to create without constant progress checks and over-the-shoulder design input.

2. Supply Needed Tools

An ill-equipped designer is not necessarily going to lead to stellar results. Provide your designer with up-to-date equipment and tools. Trust your designer to provide the expert input on what is required to do the best job for you.

3. Nurture and Educate

The design industry is changing dramatically daily. Your designer needs to be “upgraded” on a regular basis. Workshop or conference attendance, continuing education courses and magazines subscriptions help a designer stay healthy.

4. Encourage Interaction

The natural habitat of the designer is not the office in the back - isolated from all others in the company. Present opportunities for interaction and brainstorming with the rest of the staff, including those initially concepting projects and the end users of a given piece.

5. Allow Creative Freedom

Let your designer out of their box, or cubicle, on a regular basis, Creativity can’t be turned on like a computer or light switch. Designers need outside stimuli for a productive life span. (The “Creative Freedom Pass” below is a great idea.)

6. Coach Your Designer

Designers do not respond well to “training” preparing them to “sit,” “heel” and “roll over.” Invest the time to coach, (rather than train) your designer in a positive manner about the culture, history and philosophies of your business.

7. Provide ALL Information

Being “selfish” with project specifications, client feedback, budgetary restrictions and other information will not be of benefit to you or your designer. Sharing all information openly will allow your designer to do their best job.

8. Define REAL Deadlines

“When you get around to it” or “ASAP” are not realistic definitions of project deadlines. Establish actual timelines with your designer for the delivery of concepts, presentation of revisions and the completion of needed designs.

9. Critique Constructively

Telling a designer their project “sucks” or you “just don’t like it” is not feedback that will lead to a successful end result. Explain your reasoning in detail and offer possible solutions. Offer praise or encouragement when earned.

10. Recognize and Reward

A happy designer is a productive designer - and a very valuable asset to your company. A simple ‘thank you” for a job well done, sponsorship of a design competition entry, blatant praise in front of other staff, and other signs of acknowledgment are great investments. (Again, a “Creative Freedom Pass” is a nice reward.)

This article originally appeared on and bLog-oMotives.

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Designs on your own neighborhood

The “international headquarters” of the graphic design firm Jeff Fisher LogoMotives has been located in the Arbor Lodge neighborhood of North Portland for the past nine and a half years. In that time, from my home-based studio, I have made quite an impression on the local community. While I often find myself designing logos for businesses and organizations across the U.S. and around the world, some of the greatest satisfaction has come from creating identities for clients in my own neighborhood.

One of the major landmarks in the area, the majestic St. Johns Bridge, has found its way into logo designs for the North Portland Business Association, James John School, Project Safe Summer and community activist Mike Verbout. The Peninsula Community Development Corporation, Portsmouth Neighborhood Association, Peninsula Clean Team, Caring Community of North Portland, and Kenton Neighborhood Service Center have all been given the LogoMotives treatment. Area events being identified with my images include the annual Portland Iron Chef fundraiser of the Children's Relief Nursery, the St. Johns Window Project art exhibit, the North Portland Pride B.B.Q. and Festival sponsored by the University Park United Methodist Church and others. Business sector logos I have designed for neighborhood companies include the North Bank Cafe, Coyner's Auto Body and Lampros Steel.

One of my favorite North Portland projects was the logo design for the North Bank Cafe. When discussing the logo project, the restaurant owner mentioned she wanted the image to convey a cross between the old television show "Northern Exposure" and the feeling of the St. Johns neighborhood. She also asked that I include a moose as a graphic element if possible, as she hoped to have a giant moose head hanging on the wall. Not taking herself too seriously, she suggested that the moose have long eyelashes and be winking. It seemed to be a large order for one logo image - and I saw the moose with large antlers from my initial concept. Only one problem -a female moose doesn't have the familiar large rack. Still, the owner was thrilled with my solution and we decided that the moose in the logo was a cross-dressing or drag queen creature. Unfortunately, the life of the cafe was limited, but the logo's reach continues to be worldwide.

The North Bank Cafe logo is just one of the many neighborhood images having a life of its own far beyond the local area. It is among the North Portland logos have brought me numerous design awards, including those of the American Graphic Design Awards, LOGO 2001, LOGO 2002, LOGO 2004 and the Summit Creative Awards. The Peninsula Community Development Corporation and Lampros Steel logos appear in the book Logos Redesigned: How 200 Companies Successfully Changed Their Image and on the Creative Latitude design site's GRAPHIC makeovers section. Other logos appear in the books The Big Books of Logos, The New Big Book of Logos, The Big Book of Logos 3, Logo Design for Small Business 2, and the Japanese book New Logo World. All the exposure has added a great deal to my marketing efforts around the world.

It's not unusual for a designer to set their sights on big buck, corporate clients as they map out a career. However, at times the best - and most appreciative - clients may be the smaller businesses and organizations right outside your front door.

This article originally appeared on and bLog-oMotives

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Political Logos

(Clockwise from upper left)

Frank Dixon for State Senate
Client: Frank Dixon for Senate Campaign
Location: Portland, OR USA

A designer doesn't often get the opportunity to design for a candidate with an "x" in the name - an easy "casting your vote" design element. The candidate didn't win - but the logo appears in the Japanese books New Logo & Trademark Design and Logo & Trademark Collection.

Lucille Hart Dinner
Client: Right to Privacy PAC
Location: Portland, OR USA

Charlotte Comito for Commissioner
Client: Comito for Commissioner Campaign
Location: Portland, OR USA

Cookie Jar Fund
Client: Democratic Party of Oregon
Location: Oregon USA

A humorous approach was taken in creating the identity for a fund-raising branch of the Democratic Party of Oregon, with the party symbol of a donkey taking the shape of a cookie jar and cookie imagery creating the "O" letterforms - and the eyes of the donkey. The logo appears in the Japanese books New Logo & Trademark Design and Logo & Trademark Collection.

All logo designs © 2012 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives. All rights reserved.

Tooting Your Own Horn:
How Designers Can Get the Word Out

by Jeff Fisher, Engineer of Creative Identity, Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

"If you build it, they will come" was the haunting message from above in the movie "Field of Dreams." However, clients are not magically going to appear unless they know about what you have to offer. The reality of the business world—including the design world—is a bit harsher than Hollywood with its instant, magic following. That is where marketing principles come into play. Designers must consider a myriad of methods to get the word out, from direct mail to press releases.

Press for Success
Designers must constantly promote themselves—especially when conditions are at their best, so work will be coming in the door when the economy takes a turn for the worse. I think the biggest mistake regarding self-promotion that most designers consistently make is to wait until there is no work on their desks before beginning their own marketing efforts.

In her book, BRAG!: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It, Peggy Klaus writes: "Promoting ourselves is something we are not taught to do. Even today, we still tell children 'Don't talk about yourself, people won't like you.' So ingrained are the myths about self-promotion, so repelled are we by obnoxious braggers, many people simply avoid talking about themselves."

Still, you must make your potential clientele—or employer—aware of who you are, your capabilities and what you have to offer. Doing so may require walking a fine line between coming across as an obnoxious braggart or presenting a finely honed, savvy marketing message.

What Works for You?
Hey, this marketing thing really works. Do good work, put a bit of an unusual spin on it, schmooze a little, make others aware of what you are up to and people will take notice.

You don't necessarily have to use tried-and-true methods simply because that's what everyone else is doing—or has done in the past. Test various marketing tools over time, determine what you are comfortable doing and evaluate the results on an individual basis. Do what works for you and give whatever methods you select some of your own personality.

Marketing to the Office Down the Hall or Upstairs
Marketing one's design abilities, efforts and accomplishments does not always mean establishing campaigns or programs to take on the world at large. For the in-house designer, there is often a need to prove the value of one's work to the "suits" in the head office of a corporation, business or organization. Such marketing may take the form of one-on-one meetings or large gatherings in a conference room.

It's important that in-house design departments learn to promote themselves within the corporate structure, to foster greater understanding of what they are doing at their computers on a daily basis. Most of the firm may see the end product of a project some time after its completion, have little knowledge of how it evolved, who was involved and the result of the completed effort.

"It's a matter of selling our value to upper management. I've learned that I need to manage up as much as I manage down," says Andy Epstein, Creative Director for Gund, Inc. "That means I take time to meet with the VPs in our company, both formally and informally, to discuss their needs even beyond the established relationships we have and to find ways to help them. I also proactively take on brand- and marketing-related projects and research and present them to upper management at every opportunity."

"Open your doors, get involved in projects that aren't assigned, and people will see what you and your group can offer," suggests Austin Baskett, Brand Manager for American Crew. "You become known as the place to solve people's communication problems."

In the end, designers must not forget the true goal of their endeavors. Marketing and promotion are necessities; awards and pats on the back are all gravy. However, as designer Art Chantry summarizes, the most important thing is "the work itself. There is nothing more thrilling than doing good work. In a way, it's the ultimate triumph."

Note: This excerpt from my book The Savvy Designer's Guide to Success: Ideas and tactics for a killer career originally appeared on the website. It also appeared on and in the Fall 2005 issue of “Designer,” the publication of the University & College Designers Association.

The Savvy Designer's Guide to Success was released in 2009 as a PDF on CD from

© 2009 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Is the Price Right?
The Education of the Design Client

by Jeff Fisher, Engineer of Creative Identity, Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Designers of all experience levels are constantly questioning whether they are charging enough for their creative efforts. I've always felt that if they have doubts about their fees the question has already been answered.

Any designer has to remain competitive in the marketplace, especially in smaller communities with the small-town perception of what services are worth. Part of the process is educating the client base about the cost, value and time investment of design services. That's been a twenty-five-year process for me—and it continues on a daily basis.

I break down my fees on my estimate sheets and invoices so clients can see exactly where the time is, on any project—and how much it is costing them. The breakdowns are:

• Design/Illustration
• Art Direction
• Copywriting
• Production
• Consultation
• Research
• Misc. Client Services

I also have expenses broken down as:

• RC Paper/Film/Neg Output
• Scans/Camera Services
• Conversions/Computer Services
• Misc. Materials/Shipping

You also have to educate the client about how costs can go up as a result of their actions or lack of action. If the project is a rush job—most often due to poor planning—I'm going to charge them a premium. If an identity project drags on and on due to the client's multiple revisions or indecision, it is the client who causes the cost of the project to increase—not the designer. When people have legal questions about their business, they expect to pay an attorney who charges them $200 to $350 an hour. Yet, when they place the image of their company in the hands of a professional designer, is that designer's time is worth one-tenth the value of that legal advice? I don't think so.

Many designers undercharge for their work, especially when working in an independent capacity. Part of this is the fault of the designers, who may not assign an adequate value in what they do for a living. Another part of the equation is the perception of many clients that such designers don't have "real" jobs and therefore their time is worth less than that of other professionals. As previously mentioned, that is one reason I don't call myself a "freelance designer." When people ask if I'm a freelancer I say, "No, I have my own design firm." It's odd to see how that statement changes their attitude about me as a businessperson.

The client also needs to understand the average lifetime of a logo—one of the company's most valuable marketing assets for their company—is about ten years. When you pro-rate the cost of an identity project out over that period of time it is a fairly inexpensive investment. It is also worthwhile to have a professional take on the job and do it correctly the first time.

A few years ago, a law firm contacted me in a panic to basically save its rear end. Earlier, the firm had opted to cut corners in designing their identity by utilizing the services of a major client's daughter, who purported to be a graphic designer. Through a difficult process, the partners settled on a design—although nobody really liked it—and the logo was reproduced on all print materials for this fifty-person firm. All materials for a 50-person firm were produced with this logo nobody really liked. When it came time to invest over $3,000 for a bronze sign for the company, however, one of the partners balked.

When I was brought in to redesign the logo, no one ever questioned my rates. I was stunned when I first saw the original design—the initials of the names of the partners were not even in the correct order of the company name. Within a few days I had recreated the identity and the company began the process of reprinting every piece of printed material it used. This identity project ended up being very expensive—especially when they had the privilege of paying for everything twice.

There is this odd perception in the marketplace that if something costs more, it must be better; if the product or service is presented in a professional manner, it must be of higher quality and value. The same phenomenon occurs when people buy clothing with designer labels even though those items are more expensive than similar products made in the same factory for a discount store. Much of this is due to the marketing and promotion of a brand or name.

Often, after I present a potential client with an estimate, the individual will have a bout of initial "sticker shock." Frequently the person comes back to me and says, "The estimate was more than I expected, but you come highly recommended and I want to work with you. If that's what it costs; then that's what it costs." I realize that some smaller companies have severe budget limitations. If the client interests me enough, I explain what the job is worth, based on my estimated investment of time in their proposed project. I then ask what the company budget allows for such a job. If I can work within that budget figure to take on the commission, that's my prerogative as a business owner. I usually just make them swear to never tell anyone what I charged for that specific project. In addition, I usually end up donating five or six projects a year to nonprofit organizations, based on guidelines established for myself.

The bottom line is, if you produce a quality product, work professionally to establish a reputation, market and promote yourself creatively, and take the time to educate potential clients, you should be able to charge clients whatever you feel your time is really worth. If you don't take your business seriously, clients and vendors won't either.

Pricing—The Value of Your Time
If a designer asks "What should I charge for my work?" my immediate sense is they should not be in business. Such a request for information tells me the individual has not done the research and homework necessary to put out his own shingle. Do such designers honestly believe there is one blanket answer to determine the value of one's work?

There is so much more to establishing a pricing structure than just pulling a number out of the air. A designer must seriously consider every factor that determines one's hourly worth. What is your level of experience? What are the going rates in the market or area? What are clients in that market willing to pay? What fee structure is going to give you an edge in soliciting clients—without hurting your ability to make a living?

When it comes to the pricing of design work, most in the profession seem to have greater concern for the dollar amount attached to the completed project than for the real issue of importance. Your major consideration should be whether you are adequately compensated for one of your most limited commodities: time. As a designer you only have a limited number of hours each day, week, month or year. You can't collect or obtain any additional time. When charging clients for work, every designer should seek the greatest value in the marketplace for that limited commodity. It's the old business principle of supply and demand. Your supply of time is predetermined and limited, so the demand for that commodity should help you determine its values.

"I'm a big believer in project rates versus hourly rates. Of course the project rate relies on an estimate of hours needed, but clients appreciate a known investment," says Michelle Elwell, creative director of SolutionMasters, Inc. "I don't feel a designer needs to worry about being the lowest-priced designer in the area. When you do, you start selling a commodity versus a service. That becomes a trap. Sell your service, sell your experience, no one else out there has you to offer."

"Figure out what your overhead is. Figure out what your time is worth," suggests Rebecca Kilde of Windmill Graphics. "Don't under-estimate the time it takes to do all the non-design aspects of maintaining a business. Figure out how much you want to work during the year. Make a pretty good guess."

"Pricing is really tricky. It really depends on the client and their budget and the size of the client," according to TNTOM Design's Travis Tom. "I would suggest going with a figure that the designer feels comfortable making a profit from."

"The only way I see to set rates is though a solid calculation that addresses the designer's specific salary and associated personnel costs (taxes, FICA, insurance, etc), overhead and a profit," says Neil Tortorella, "Without doing the math, you'll never know what your bottom line is—the minimum you can charge and still make money."

One Designer's Humble Suggestion on Pricing
Designer Charles Hinshaw, of [r]evolve, gave many designers a lot to consider when he posted his ideas on pricing on the HOW Design discussion forum. He has allowed his comments to be "posted" here as well.

"The entire concept is built around a single idea: It doesn't matter what I charge for an ad, it doesn't matter what the guy down the street charges for a brochure, it doesn't matter what the GAG Handbook says about the going rate for that logo and it certainly doesn't matter for what fee your potential client's nephew will design a Web site—you have your own business, your own expenses, and you are offering something completely different from any of us. Why would your rates match any of ours?

"It is my humble suggestion that when it comes to the description of 'creative professional', the word professional is the more important of the two. That is to say that, despite what your art school education may have taught you, you are running a business, not being an artist.

"What does this have to do with pricing? My experience in business tells me that I have monthly expenses, and there are only so many hours I can work in a month. So, if I take those expenses and divide them by my maximum hours, I have a minimum amount that I can charge—because I don't enjoy paying to design, and if I charge less than that, I'm in the red.

"How much would I advise someone to charge for something? It really depends on the situation, the market, your needs, your desires, and how much shiny things demand your money. Being able to justify your asking price and having clients that can afford you are two different things entirely. If the kids next door wanted me to do an annual report for their lemonade stand business, I could easily 'justify' a large fee. The fact they only have 75 cents to pay me just means that I am looking at the wrong market."

No One Ever Said it Would Be Easy
In The Graphic Designer's Guide to Pricing, Estimating & Budgeting, Theo Stephan Williams sums it all up. She writes, "I promise you that the three hardest things you will ever do in the business of graphic design is figure out how much to charge for your services, how to do an estimate and how to manage project budgets completely and efficiently."

The only thing worse than a potential client who does not value the efforts of a professional graphic designer is a designer who doesn't appreciate the value of their own time and work.

Content Contributors
Michelle Elwell, SolutionMasters, Inc.
Rebecca Kilde, Windmill Graphics
Travis Tom, TNTOM Design
Neil Tortorella, Tortorella Design
Charles Hinshaw, [r]evolve

Williams, Theo Stephan. The Graphic Designer's Guide to Pricing, Estimating & Budgeting. New York: Allworth Press, 2001.

Note: This excerpt from my book, The Savvy Designer's Guide to Success: Ideas and tactics for a killer career, originally appeared on the website.

The Savvy Designer's Guide to Success was released in 2009 as a PDF on CD from

© 2009 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Theatre Logos

(Clockwise from upper left)

Blue Plate Special
Client: triangle productions!
Location: Portland, OR USA

This logo for a musical theatre presentation is one of my earliest computer-generated logo designs. It seems a bit clunky to me now - and there are things I would change a bit. However, it does still work for the show.

Things You Shouldn't Say Past Midnight
Client: triangle productions!
Location: Portland, OR USA

This logo for a play is featured in the Japanese book Logo World.

Fat Men in Skirts
Client: triangle productions!
Location: Portland, OR USA

Making the text the attire element in the graphic was a great solution for the play "Fat Men in Skirts." The design appears in New Logo & Trademark Design (Japan) and the PRINT Regional Design Annual.

What The Butler Saw
Client: triangle productions!
Location: Portland, OR USA

Logo for a Joe Orton play. The logo appears in The Big Book of Logos 3.

NOTE: Many of the logos designed for theatre presentations are available for licensing through the Theatre Logos Agency.

All logo designs © 2015 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives. All rights reserved.

2007 Articles about Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Veteran Designer Embraces Identity Crisis and Casual Fridays,, by Kristen Fischer (December 2007)

Start Smart, HOW Magazine, by Esther D'Amico (December 2007)

Identity Crisis is a rare book,, by Chuck Green (November 2007)

Career: Plotting Your Course, HOW Magazine, by Julie Sims (August 2007)

The Engineer of Creative Identity

Jeff Fisher, the Engineer of Creative Identity for the one-person design shop Jeff Fisher LogoMotives, has been designing logos, creating corporate identity systems and branding organizations, businesses and products for nearly 30 years. Clients have included one-person entrepreneurial companies, education facilities, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, professional sports teams and major international corporations.

His award-winning design career began in 1980 after studies in the design of graphics, advertising, typography and publications through the University of Oregon School of Journalism. As Art Director for the Multnomah County Medical Society he shared in winning the prestigious Sandoz Award - medical journalism's highest national honor. This was followed by a stint as Art Director of a Portland ad agency. After a move to Seattle in 1985 he was Creative Director for an international clothing manufacturer; designing graphics for clothing, art directing photo shoots, producing national magazine ads and coordinating fashion shows for the company.

Many business ventures have invested the future of their companies in the identity work of Jeff Fisher LogoMotives. Clients have included businesses and organizations throughout the United States and many foreign countries. Larger clients have included The Governor Hotel, the Seattle Seahawks, the State of Oregon, the Portland Trail Blazers, several universities and many others.

Jeff Fisher has received over 600 regional, national and international graphic design awards for his logo and corporate identity efforts. His work has been featured in HOW, Print, Graphic Design:usa and several international design publications. Over 130 books on the design of logos, the business of graphic design, and small business marketing have presented his efforts as industry examples.

Fisher is the author of Identity Crisis!: 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities Into Successful Brands, released in October 2007, which he writes about on the Identity Crisis!" blog. His first book, The Savvy Designer’s Guide to Success: Ideas and tactics for a killer career was released in December 2004 by HOW Books. He is currently writing Logo Type: 200 Best Typographic Logos from Around the World Explained, about typography in identity design. It is scheduled for a 2011 release.

Articles written by the designer have appeared in HOW Magazine, Designer - the publication of the University & College Designer Association, Bulletin - the magazine of the American Society of Media Photographers, Legal Management News: The Journal of the Association of Legal Administrators and others. Pieces by Fisher have also been posted on,,, the Web presence of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada, and elsewhere. Features about Jeff Fisher and his business have appeared in industry publications, newspapers, major business magazines and webzines around the world. Fisher also writes on a regular basis for his design-oriented blog, bLog-oMotives.

Fisher often speaks about his experiences in design, and the marketing of small business, to audiences such the annual HOW Design Conference, Chamber of Commerce groups, Small Business Development Center educators, related industry professional organizations, high school students and college design students. Many podcasts and interviews featuring Jeff Fisher are posted online.

Fisher serves on the HOW Magazine Board of Advisors, HOW Design Conference Advisory Council and Art Institute of Portland Professional Advisory Council, and is a past member of the UCDA Designer Magazine Editorial Advisory Board. Graphic Design USA magazine named Jeff Fisher one of the design industry “People to Watch” in 2009.

© 2010 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

2006 Articles about Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Business Etiquette Survival Guide: Navigating Sticky Situations at Work, TCG eZine, (October 2006)

Design in Portland: An A to Z Guide to All Things Wild, Weird and Wonderful, Commerce Magazine, (October 2006)

Away from the sketchpad; away from the struggle, Right Brain Reader, by Philip Bailey (October 2006)

Logo-Licious or Lame?

February 2006
Fortune Magazine

This article was also posted on the Fortune Magazine website, with the images appearing in a Status Symbol gallery.

2005 Articles about Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Sometimes a Logo is Just a Logo,, by Glen Gable (September 2005)

Creating a Buzz-Worthy Career: An Interview With Author Jeff Fisher, TCG eZine, by Doug White, (September 2005)

Business Talk: Lost in Translation, HOW Magazine, by Pat Matson Knapp (August 2005)

An interview with Jeff Fisher, (April 2005)

Local Author’s First Book: A “Brief” on Graphic Design, In and About North Portland, by Susan Rich (January 2005)

Logo Notions:
Inspirations, early designs, and the test of time

June 2005

By Jeff Fisher, Engineer of Creative Identity, Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

In initiating this series I took time to sort through box after box of old projects in my basement and look back on nearly thirty years of income producing design. While in high school and college I did get paid for art, illustration and design work. However, I don’t think I would have considered myself a professional until I was literally working as the graphic designer for the advertising department of my college’s daily newspaper in the late 1970’s.

From as early as grade school I was interested in art and design. As a junior high school entrepreneur I created ink line drawings of historic structures in my hometown as gifts for family friends and to sell at the annual local art fair. The drawings were printed on note cards and marketed, in packets of ten, at local gift shops and galleries under the name “Salem Scenes.” With the first packaging project of a 15-year-old boy came the creation of my first logo. Although the name reads more as “Scenes Salem” due to the text treatment, I do see early hints of the pleasure I still get today from combining letterforms and graphic elements in a somewhat clever manner to produce the identity for a business. My earliest logo effort combined an illustration executed with a rapidiograph pen and very rough letters made from x-acto knife cut graphic border tape.

As I moved into high school work on the student newspaper, and independent study in art classes, I learned that “commercial art” was a potentially viable field of endeavor. While a senior in high school, at the Salem Public Library , I came across the book Graphic Design by Milton Glaser. Glaser’s fun illustrations, lettering styles, publication designs and logo for the Russian Tea Room captivated me and gave a name to what I now wanted to be when I grew up. The humor and playfulness in his work seemed to tie into my own personality.

Learning more about the work of Milton Glaser introduced me to Pushpin Studios and the logo images of his business partner Seymour Chwast. I soon learned that even as a high school kid I could get a free subscription to a design industry publication called “U&lc” (now online) which featured the work of Glaser, Chwast and some many other designers I would come to admire and idolize. With each issues my eyes were opened to the work of U&lc editor/designer Herb Lubalin, Saul Bass, Lou Dorfsman, Mo Lebowitz and so many more incredible designers, artists and typographers. Additional information and examples of the work of many of these designers can be found on the AIGA site in the section on AIGA Medalists. Soaking up everything in the publication, I learned to look at design, typography, packaging, signage, logos, art and culture with a different eye. The recent book U&lc: Influencing Design and Typography edited by John D. Berry, brought back many memories of the excitement I would experience in receiving the tabloid in the mail when little about graphic design was being taught in my high school.

Off to college I went and, while learning the basic principles of design in class, a great deal of time was spent in the art library learning about the design work of individuals such as Paul Rand, Ivan Chermayeff & Tom Geismar, Walter Landor, Primo Angeli and other industry leaders. My schooling took a bit of a detour from the Fine Arts department to the advertising and publication courses of the Journalism School. From my professor Roy Paul Nelson, who wrote the books The Design of Advertising and Publication Design, I learned a great deal about the principles of design and typography.

Much of my new knowledge was put to the test as the ad designer for the daily school newspaper. I didn’t get a great deal of exposure to logo design but I did get to create a few less than stellar, quick and dirty, identities for local businesses – mostly hand drawn and using hand-lettering. Still, I was getting hooked on this design thing. In my first logo design competition, for the University’s Chinese Student Association, my logo design - consisting of C,S and A letterforms creating a stylized dragon – was proclaimed the winner. Soon afterwards I got my first logo design commission when I was asked to design a new logo for the Eugene/University Music Association. In those early creations – all done with ink on illustration board - I was already establishing something of a style and exhibiting that I might actually be learning something from my studies and personal research.

Once I completed school, and moved on to Portland in 1980, I continued my self-education when it came to logo design. I began my collection of identity and logo design books for inspiration and individual study. I able to afford subscriptions at the time but the local library provided a resource for reading Communication Arts, Print and other industry magazines for continuing education and examples of great logo work. A few logo projects did come my way as I began my career as an independent designer. When starting any identity design effort, four major pieces of advice from college always stuck in my mind:

• The old K.I.S.S. principle of “Keep It Simple, Stupid.”

• Make sure that sucker works well in black and white before even considering colors.

• Design the image to clearly convey the desired message in all sizes.

• When designing the graphic, give serious consideration to all possible uses of the logo by the client, from print to embroidery to signage.

In digging through boxes and files of old projects I did find most of my first professional logo designs. Although the images are nearly 25 years old, or older, they do seem to still work as well today as when they were originally introduced. Some do exhibit the telltale signs of the boldness and geometric shapes used in many identities of the 1970’s and 1980’s. Unfortunately, the logos are no longer used to represent the entities in question or the companies represented are no longer in business.

The image of a bottle of India ink within a circle was my first attempt at a logo for myself in 1979. I decided to use the business name artworks, ink to represent my design and fine art work. The top portion of the graphic also formed the letter “A.” I used the image, rubberstamped on all my business materials for a couple of years before I was encouraged to introduce my design work with my given name. My logo for the accounting firm Kohnen Larson was one of my first paid logo design projects after college. The abstract “K” and “L” served the firm well for many years. The assignment from the owner of Al Bauer Advertising was to also design an abstract image to represent his firm. In fact, at one time he considered using one of his daughter’s modern paintings as the image for his firm. When shown the design he ended up selecting he said it was “perfect” and represented the fact that in advertising “everything is all neat and orderly, and then something goes out of whack.” Two weeks later Bauer called to say he had just realized the logo was actually abstract lower case “a” and “b” letterforms. The successful design was blind embossed on all stationery items for the company. The design for the Robinwood Shopping Center, consisting of a tree image created from flying birds, identified the mall in signage and advertising for many years.

The logo for the Unity National Insurance Company was meant to convey a solid image for a new division of an existing insurance client’s business. The interlocking shapes were usually only seen as a “U” and a “N” after a second look by the viewer. Being commissioned to create a logo for the La Patisserie initiated an on-going interest in identity design for restaurants and the hospitality industry. One of the first espresso cafes in Portland, La Patisserie was recognizable by its unique logo design until it closed in 2002 after 20 years in operation. The Tel-Med icon, consisting of a stylized human form and telephone keypad, represented the local medical information hotline for a number of years. I was always told that the simplicity of the design gave it the longevity. Combined “S” and “N” letterforms created the logo for Samuels & Nudelman Public Relations. The logo provided the firm a strong, bold identity as it entered the local market.

It was interesting for me to revisit these designs, in some cases over 25 years after their creation, and examine the strength of some of my early design efforts. Using hand-drawn imagery, pressure-sensitive type, adhesive-backed art films, and typography produced by a typesetter, I got a good start to what would become my passion in this industry. It would be over 10 years before the first computer, a Macintosh IIsi, appeared on my desk. By that time I had been working as a designer for nearly 13 years. In 1995 I would make the decision to concentrate on logo design.

A variety of logo designers have continued to inspire me over the last 25 years. David Lance Goines’ poster and logo designs have always fascinated me. The work of Michael Schwab has always forced me to push myself a bit harder in my own efforts. The elegant designs of Louise Fili should inspire all designers. I am always inspired by the work of the Willoughby Design Group, Sayles Graphic Design, Hornall Anderson Design Works, Sandstrom Design – Steve was employed as the editorial cartoonist at the student newspaper at the same time I was on the staff back in college – and so many more. I hope to bring you examples of their work, and their perspectives on identity design, in future Logo Notions columns.

This was the initial Logo Notions column on the site Creative Latitude. Check out additional articles on the topic of identity design at Logo Notions.

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Designer Ireland: No. 237 - DesignEire

6 June 2004
The Sunday Times
Culture Section

by Lisa Godson

The most impressive item in DesignEire’s portfolio is themselves — or rather their logo. It has won international awards, been featured in graphic design manuals as an example of excellence and is utterly distinctive.

The logo is a representation of the D and E of the company name, and plays on visual perception. The letters are placed back to back, this snugness an allusion to their part in a composite word. The E is a curved Celtic uncial, and so at first glance the design appears to depict two back-to-back semi-circles.

It seems almost abstract, with the negative space formed by the two curves emphasised visually by being rendered in white. As the brightest element in the composition, the eye is drawn first to this non-signifying abstract shape — the leftover part of the design forming the central focus, in a subversion of the norm.

Another unusual aspect of the design is the use of dark colours. The shape enclosed by the D is in indigo, and that of the E in a dark leaf green. The allusion here seems to be to cosmopolitanism on the one hand and the local on the other. With a name like DesignEire, it is clear the company wants to be associated with Ireland, but it also works for international clients. The logo is certainly more subtle than the cheeky name — the use of the terms design and Eire make it sound like an official state design organisation rather than a small commercial firm.

The appeal of the logo is not just a cerebral one of optical illusions and allusions but an emotional one. The letters and shapes of it are all marked out in thick black line, and coupled with the strong colours gives it a hand-drawn, child-like air. It is designed as much as an illustration as a corporate trademark — in fact, it is more suggestive of the work of Roger Hargreaves, creator of the Mr Men books than that of a contemporary graphic designer.

Lisa Godson is tutor in Critical and Historical Studies at the Royal College of Art. She was previously a lecturer in the Department of the History of Art, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin Institute of Technology and elsewhere, wrote a weekly column on Irish design for the Sunday Times for six years, worked as a curator and consultant to the National Museum of Ireland. Godson also wrote the limited edition book "Stealing Hearts from a Travelling Show: The Graphic Design of U2."

More information about the DesignEire logo is posted in the Creative Services Logos section of this blogfolio. This review is also archived at TimesOnline. © Copyright 2007 Times Newspapers Ltd.

2004 Articles about Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Business Talk: Shedding Stress, HOW Magazine, by Pat Matson Knapp (February 2004)

Literally "making a name for yourself"

by Jeff Fisher, Engineer of Creative Identity, Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

When you start you own business, you are beginning a "brand," if you will. The product has a name. There may be a reputation associated with the product — a documented history of achievements, accolades, failures and more. Interestingly enough, this product has the same name as you when you go to introduce yourself to a potential client, a possible future employer, a peer with whom you may one day collaborate or a vendor who will be able to help you out of a bind.

In their book Off-The-Wall Marketing Ideas, Nancy Michaels and Debbi J. Karpowicz stress the importance of making a good first impression in any industry. They write, "As a small business owner, you become the embodiment of your company; you also become a public person, which has its ramifications. Whether you are running a grocery store — or a business meeting — it is important that you create a positive reflection of your company."

My own identity went through a process of evolution. When I found myself working independently as a designer in the fall of 1980, due to the job-lite economy, I had not yet made a name for myself as a professional or a business. Initially, I thought I would come up with a clever, attention-getting name. The result was art•werks, ink. A problem surfaced immediately. Nobody knew who I was. The name I personally like soon faded and was replaced with the much more banal Jeff Fisher Graphic Design.

In late 1986, after almost eight years as a graphic designer using the name Jeff Fisher Graphic Design, I determined I needed a business name that reflected my interest in logo design, combined with a lifelong fascination of toy trains and actual locomotives. I originally intended to use the name, Logo Motive Design. The first drawing was executed in ballpoint pen on a notepad, recreated with a Rapidiograph pen (this was before most designers had computers), and then reversed out to final art. The logo only appeared in one print ad. It was not met with positive feedback from friends and clients, who felt the emphasis on my personal skills and talent required my own name in my business identity. So, the idea was shelved and I continued as Jeff Fisher Design.

As more and more of my design work being involved in identity efforts I revisited my original concept for the business name Logo Motive. I attempted to create a logo combining the necessary text and a symbolic art element in an integrated emblem, while also conveying my own creativity and identity design ability. I again received negative feedback from clients and associates in regards to such a name making my efforts seem impersonal and too corporate. Still, I began using the business name Logo Motive in 1995 to give identification to what was unintentionally becoming my primary business focus. Frustrated because it did not convey a strong enough image, I again halted my own logo project, and resuming the effort became a low priority due to an ever-increasing workload.

By 1997, about 80 percent of my design projects involved logos. Clients, potential clients and friends frequently asked why a logo designer did not have a logo of his own, so I decided to finally finish the logo project I began ten years earlier for my worst client: myself. Embellishing the rough design of a few years earlier by simply adding my name to the design, I was able to "brand" myself... giving the logo the personal sense it had been lacking. The result was a logo with which I was pleased at last. Numerous new clients tell me they have made the decision to hire me based on my personal logo. It has become my greatest — and most recognizable — marketing tool.

(See the Jeff Fisher LogoMotives identity evolution here)

Jacci Howard Bear, guide for the Desktop Publishing forum has some common-sense advice for beginning the quest for a business name. She says, "Choosing a business name can be fun and frustrating. To do it right you need to pick a name that you can live with for a long time, reflects the nature of your business, and isn’t already being used by the business down the street."

This basic principle of using your own name worked very well for Houston designer Mark Wilson, a designer of logos — or marks. He named his Mark of Design, linking his first name and his area of expertise. He even goes one step further with the directive tagline "Make Your Mark."

Some firms tackle the naming game from a totally different perspective. Pigtail Pundits, the Mumbai, India Web development firm founder Ranajit Tendolkar, is not a name one is likely to forget; it stirs up all kinds of interesting mental visuals when you read or hear the moniker. "Christening our organization was one of the first tasks we set about as soon as we decided to set up shop, Ranajit Tendolkar says. "We wanted to create a name that is unique, Indian yet international, easy to remember, capable of standing above the clutter, and of course with visual possibilities."

It seems to have worked. Every potential client has inquired about the name, making it a success in (the firm’s) eyes. No matter what your naming strategy, coming up with a clear, explanatory, clever name is always a challenge, but it can be your most important introduction to the world at the same time.

Note: This excerpt from my book, The Savvy Designer's Guide to Success: Ideas and tactics for a killer career, originally appeared on the website

The Savvy Designer's Guide to Success was released in 2009 as a PDF on CD from

© 2009 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Personal Logos

(Clockwise from upper left)

Ed Cunningham
Client: Ed Cunningham - "Computer Geek with Social Skills"
Location: Portland, OR USA

This is the personal logo for my husband - who started his career as a computer science major and IT person for a law firm. It appears in the books New Logo & Trademark Design (P.I.E. Books, Japan, 1998) and The Big Book of Logos (Hearst Books International, USA, 1999).

A Rubber's Ducky
Client: Jeff Fisher LogoMotives
Location: Portland, OR USA

The duck's head being the shape of a condom with a reservoir-tip was a subtle "life preserver" message in this safe sex image. The logo appears in the books New Logo & Trademark Design (P.I.E. Books, Japan, 1998), The New Big Book of Logos (Hearst Books International, USA, 2000), LogoLounge - Volume 1 (Rockport Publishers, USA, 2003), New Logo & Trademark Collection (P.I.E. Books, Japan, 2004), Logos from North to South America (Index Book, Spain, 2005), Logos Cafe (Page One, Singapore 2005), The Graphic Designer’s Guide to Better Business Writing (Allworth Press, USA, 2007), I Heart Logos, Season Three (, USA, 2012) and Logopond - Identity Inspiration : V1 (Logopond, 2012).

Dorene Cantrall Fisher
Client: Dorene Fisher
Location: Sisters, OR USA

My mother felt that she needed a business card for the catering jobs she did in her local community. The icon included in the design looks very much like her.

The Kelly Wedding
Client: Tim & Kristin Kelly
Location: Portland, OR USA

Some friends asked me to create a personal icon to be used on their wedding invitation, napkins, thank you cards and a calling card. Her nickname is 'Fish;' his is 'Bird." The image appears in the books International Logos & Trademarks IV (Madison Square Press, USA, 1998), New Logo & Trademark Design (P.I.E. Books, Japan, 1998), New Business Card Graphics 2 (P.I.E. Books, Japan - 1999), The New Big Book of Logos (HBI, USA, 2000) and New Logo & Trademark Collection (P.I.E. Books, Japan, 2004).

All logo designs © 2015 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives. All rights reserved.

2003 Articles about Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Mastering Self-Promotion: Jeff Fisher Tells You How to "Toot-Toot" Your Own Horn, TCG eZine, (November 2003)

Client Gift-Giving: The Good and the Gaffes,TCG eZine, (November 2003)

Chugging down the tracks to Successville,, by Neil Tortorella (Featured Profile: August 2003)

Design Education: Maximizing Mentoring, HOW Magazine, by Samantha Chapnick (August 2003)

Creativity Eureka!: Graphically Speaking, HOW Magazine, by Lisa Buchanan (August 2003)

VIP - Independence and the Virtual Professional, SOHO It Goes Newsletter, by Eileen Parzek (July 2003)

Business Talk: Freelancing Finesse, HOW Magazine, by The Creative Group (April 2003)

Type A, HOW Magazine, by Megan Lane (February 2003)

Why are we in this business of unreasonable deadlines, less reasonable clients, challenges in earning a living, and immeasurable daily stress?

As designers, we all seem to bitch and moan about clients, projects, vendors and other aspects of the profession on a daily basis. Why do we put ourselves through the agony, torture, sleepless nights and sometimes concern if the rent will be paid at the end of the month?

The pitfalls of graphic design
We all have those moments in our design careers when we wonder if perhaps a job flipping hamburgers might be a better idea. Dealing with the battles of a project we knew we should not have taken on, working twice as hard to get paid by a client than on the actual job, the constant justification of rates and invoices, and competing with anyone with a computer calling themselves a designer can impact anyone in the industry.

For Nigel Holmes, the ultimate stumbling block for the designer is “dealing with a middleman who intervenes between you as the creator and the actual client. This often happens in advertising, but not nearly as often in magazine work, where the art director is usually ‘the client.’”

Having to be the “bad guy” presents a struggle for Sheree Clark in her position at Sayles Graphic Design.

“Because I am the ‘suit’ in our operation — meaning I am the one meeting with clients — I am also the one who has to tell our creative staff when a perfectly wonderful idea has been shot down,” Clark explains. “It’s like I have to live the terrible experience twice — once, when the client gives me the word, and then, back at the office, when I have to pass that word along to the people who created the work.”

Collecting late payments from clients, responding to e-mails and “half of the day spent tied to a keyboard” are the design business pet peeves of Petrula Vrontikis.

Clement Mok says that “Trying to professionalize the design profession.” is what he likes least about the business.

“Coming up with fees that potential clients will agree to and that will allow us to remain in business,” is the most difficult task for Ellen Shapiro. “This was not a problem until the last couple of years, but pricing is getting increasingly difficult to deal with.”

Peleg Top finds the least pleasurable aspect of graphic design to be “having to always fight for our rights as designers.”

Art Chantry is frustrated by the constant need to secure more business. “It cuts dramatically into the time I would like to spend on the actual work. The constant search, alongside the demands of simply running a business (paperwork, etc.), dominates my time,” according to Chantry. “It’s probably around a 90-to-10 percent ratio, with the creative work being the 10 percent. I’m often astonished at the huge volume of work I’ve managed to produce; how did I ever find the time?”

The joys of graphic design
For me, many negative aspects of the design field are mitigated by the positives of loving what I do for a living, using my skills and talents to visually solve the problems of clients, and the rare moments of great creativity. I love those occasions when everything comes together: the idea seems brilliant, the approval process is quick and painless, the completed design piece is just as imagined and the client is thrilled and let’s you know he or she is pleased. While these instances may be few and far between, they are what make a life and career as a designer ultimately worthwhile and gratifying.

Peleg Top gets that same feeling from “being able to create something that makes a difference, that promotes a cause or that makes profit for someone.”

Sheree Clark most enjoys getting to work with people who have a positive attitude and purpose. “Nobody comes to a graphic designer because they are terminally ill or they need an expensive engine overhaul,” says Clark. “Our clients – for the most part - are companies and individuals with a story they want to tell the world. They come to us to help get their message out; they come to have us to help them be more successful, they come because things are going well and they want them to go better. People look forward to meetings with me and my firm because they value our creativity and our advice.”

“Making an impact and helping others understand an issue,” is what Clement Mok most enjoys about the design profession. In addition, he appreciates “making the experience of the everyday and the mundane more enjoyable.”

Petrula Vrontikis finds her great pleasure in solving problems and facing interesting challenges. She says she likes learning what makes businesses and organizations “tick” as part of the design process.

“There is nothing more thrilling for me than doing good work,” adds Art Chantry. “In a way, it’s the ultimate triumph.”

All in all, graphic design is a great profession. As in any chosen field of endeavor occasionally there will be difficulties, challenges and times when murder may seem like a viable means of solving some problems.

Genevieve Gorder, of double-g, explains it in her own way when speaking about meeting the goals, demands and desires of clients.

“Fear is the biggest problem in design,” says Gorder. “It’s the fear of the unknown for people who don’t know design. What they want, they could have done a hundred times over and they haven’t,” she adds. “Don’t give them what they don’t want, but rather what they need.”

Former Saatchi and Saatchi Executive Creative Director Paul Arden takes that message further. “A client often has a fair idea of what he wants. If you show him what you want, and not what he wants, he’ll say that’s not what he asked for.” Arden comments. “If, however, you show him what he wants first, he is then relaxed and is prepared to look at what you want to sell him. You’ve allowed him to become magnanimous instead of putting him in a corner.”

Arden continues, “Give him what he wants and he may well give you what you want. There is also the possibility that he may be right.”

Designers need clients. The clients need designers. Designers need to remember that graphic design is a business. But who says you can’t have fun along the way?

Contributors mentioned in this excerpt:

Nigel Holmes/Explanation Graphics

Sheree Clark/Sayles Graphic Design

Petrula Vrontikis/Vrontikis Design Office

Clement Mok/The Office of Clement Mok

Ellen Shapiro/Shapiro Design Associates, Inc.

Peleg Top/Top Design

Art Chantry/Art Chantry Design Company

Genevieve Gorder/double-g (no link available)


Arden, Paul, It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be, Phaidon Press, 2003

Shapiro, Ellen, The Graphic Designer’s Guide to Clients: How to Make Clients Happy and do Great Work, Allworth Press, 2003

Note: This excerpt from my book, The Savvy Designer's Guide to Success: Ideas and tactics for a killer career, originally appeared on the website Creative Latitude.

The Savvy Designer's Guide to Success was released in 2009 as a PDF on CD from

© 2009 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

2002 Articles about Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Designer: Official Publication of the University & College Designers Association (Fall 2002)

Extra! Extra! Read All About You: Making the Most of Media Relations, TCG eZine, by Julie Sims (June 2002)

Interview: Ilise Benun - Self-Promotion Online: What To Do When the "Product" is You, TCG eZine (February 2002)

Sports Logos

(Clockwise from upper left)

Portland Fire Boosters
Client: Portland Fire/WNBA
Location: Portland, OR USA

The Portland Fire joined the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) in 2000 as the counterpart to the NBA team the Portland Trail Blazers, and was in existence until the end the 2002 season. This logo identified the team's fan organization.

Cascade Cup 2001
Client: Rose City Softball Association
Location: Portland, OR USA

The Cascade Cup is the Pacific NorthWest’s premiere softball tournament for the GLTB sports community. It is hosted by the Rose City Softball Association. The logo appears in The Big Book of Logos 3 and Logos From North to South America (Spain).

Client: Zeyoh, Inc.
Location: Portland, OR USA

The Wheelies logo identified a golf cart wheel cover product created by a Portland golfer and her husband.

Oregon Adult Soccer Association
Client: Oregon Adult Soccer Association
Location: Portland, OR USA

The Oregon Adult Soccer Association is a private, non-profit corporation organized to promote adult soccer in Oregon. The logo is featured in The New Big Book of Logos and Logos From North to South America (Spain).

All logo designs © 2015 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives. All rights reserved.

How much should I charge?

by Jeff Fisher, Engineer of Creative Identity, Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Think before you ask the question "How much should I charge? The answer is in the specific questions you need to ask yourself about a project.

The question of pricing often comes up in online-forums, or in face-to-face discussions between designers, as if there is one cut-and-dried answer to all design project-pricing issues. It’s unrealistic to expect that there is one definitive answer to the question of what to charge for any given project.

Many elements play into the equation resulting in a final cost estimate for a potential client, including some of the following:

• What is your experience in the field of graphic design or with a specific type of project?

• What is the amount you are currently charging as a hourly/project rate for similar projects?

• What do you feel the final project will be worth?

• What are the exact project specifications the particular client has provided?

• What is the estimated amount of time such a project will take for completion?

• What are the methods to be used to execute the project?

• What do you need to charge to cover your overhead cost and expenses on such a job?

• How badly do you want the project?

• What prices will the local geographic market will bear?

• What are competitive rates in your local area for similar work?

• How much is the client is willing to pay? (It doesn’t hurt to ask if they have a budget)

• What are you providing the client in the way of rights to use the design for future purposes?

• Is the client a for-profit or nonprofit entity, and do you price such work differently?

• And many, many more considerations…

There is just no simple generic answer. In my own case, even after over 25 years of experience in the profession, pricing is still a constantly evolving process. At times I’ve used some of the following books as guides in establishing pricing structures. I say "guides" because no one book – or online resource – is going to be the "gospel" when it comes to establishing pricing. Again, the many considerations listed above, and a variety of other elements, will come into play in establishing a price for your project.

The following is a list of published resources containing project pricing information or suggestions:

• AIGA Professional Practices in Graphic Design

• Business and Legal Forms for Graphic Designers, by Tad Crawford and Eva Doman Bruck (with a CD of business form templates)

• Digital Design Business Practices: For Graphic Designers and Their Clients, by Liane Sebastian

• Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing and Ethical Guidelines

• Graphic Designer’s Guide to Pricing, Estimating & Budgeting, by Theo Stephan Williams

• The Business of Graphic Design, by Ed Gold

• The Business Side of Creativity, by Cameron Foote

• The Creative Business Guide to Running a Graphic Design Business, by Cameron Foote

• The Graphic Designer’s Guide to Clients: How to Make Clients Happy and do Great Work, Ellen Shapiro

All provide valuable information, and some formulas, to be used in establishing your pricing structure and presenting yourself as a professional designer. Web presences such as,,,,, the Graphic Design site and many other Internet resources also offer articles and columns on the issue of establishing pricing.

Don’t be afraid to ask your design peers, in your local community or online, for input about general pricing formulas – but don’t expect others to price your job for you. There certainly is no harm in asking around for price ranges for various types of design efforts. However, the answers they give may not be exactly what you need to determine your own specific rates. Still, the responses you obtain from others in the professional will be helpful research in determining the value of your own time and work, especially when combined with information gathered from other published and online sources.

While participating in a panel discussion at the 2003 HOW Design Conference an individual from the audience asked for my mantra as a designer and I told the crowd "Work less; charge more." I do think one of the biggest mistakes designers make is not charging enough for their efforts. The only thing worse than a potential client who does not value the efforts of a professional graphic designer is a designer who doesn’t appreciate the value of their own time and work. How many times have designers walked away from a meeting with a potential client thinking something like "Damn, the client was too quick to accept my estimate; I should have asked for more?"

Over the years, each time I have raised my rates I have gotten more, not less, work. Part of that is the perception – whether true or not – that is something in more costly it must be better. That perception has fueled the "designer" fashion, fragrance and similar industries for many years. Graphic designers can use the same tactics to their advantage – rather than accepting situations such as "winning" low bids of $29 to execute a logo through an online resource. It is much better to take the "high road" in pricing, rather than considering the "low-ballers" and "design mills" as competition. If price is a potential client’s only concern, in regards to their project, I would surmise they are not the client you really want. I’m very upfront in relaying exactly that fact to possible clients.

In presenting my estimate I don’t sheepishly ask the client if a certain amount is going to be OK with them. I tell the client "the project, as you have outlined, is going to cost "X" amount." If the client responds with "Oh, that’s much more than I have budgeted for this project," I don’t give up and abandon the situation feeling dejected. My comeback is "Well, what did you budget for this project?" Often this will lead to some negotiation to a project fee that satisfies us both and I’m still above dollar the amount I need to make the project worth my time and effort. Of course, there are still those times when the client readily accepts my initial estimate and then I leave mumbling to myself "Damn, the client was too quick to accept my estimate, I should have asked for more!" The first time I told a client "Your design project is going to cost $5000" and they didn’t even flinch, I nearly "wet" myself.

Designers also need to immediately revisit the estimated costs if the project requirements are dramatically different when the approved elements are received from the client. Often the actual finalized specifications of a project may differ a great deal from what may have been originally discussed as a hypothetical design assignment. My own project agreement states; "Project may be re-estimated if, upon receipt of all project elements, the designer determines the scope of the project has been altered dramatically from the originally agreed upon concept." The designer should not be expected to stick to an original estimate if the client has made major changes to the project.

I often see Internet forum posts, or get emails, asking the question "How much should I charge for a logo?" There simply is no single answer to such a query. One of my common responses is that I would much rather make $3000 on one project than produce 20 logo designs at $150 a piece to make the same amount of money. The time spent on client communication and the administration of my business makes a rate of $150 for one logo unrealistic for me. At those fees I might as well pay the clients for the "honor" of doing their logos. It is true that not all designers can charge $3000 for a logo as they start their careers. A designer needs to take the elements listed above (and more) into consideration before conveying an intelligent estimate to a potential client for such work.

Keep good records of your time and expenses throughout a design job. Take some time to evaluate projects upon completion to determine if you are charging what you need to be to make a living in this profession. It may be necessary to adjust your fees for future jobs to be earning what you wish.

The major point I wish to convey is that all designers need to work smarter in independently determining what their talent, skill and expertise are worth and charge the client accordingly – without question or apology. Being smart in determining what you should charge for your work will hopefully allow you to "work less, charge more" in the future.

This article originally appeared on (August 2004), (January 2005), and (July 2005).

Right on Track:
Citibank Entrepreneur of the Month

January 2001

bizzed uncovers the success secrets behind this design extraordinaire:, the financial obstacles he overcame and advice for other entrepreneurs.

By Maria DiBenedetto

"It's not that I don't play well with others; it's just that I want to choose where, when and with whom I play." - Jeff Fisher comments on turning his dream business into a reality.

Since 1995, Jeff Fisher's work has won over 300 design awards and appears in nearly 50 books on graphics, logo design and small business marketing. So, just how exactly did this artist with a good business idea turn a $2000 loan from his grandparents and income from part-time jobs into a successful small business that has stood the test of time? (Jeff has been running his own business for nearly twenty years).

"I think I have become what I wanted to be when I grow up," says Jeff. "I wanted to be working for an internationally recognized, award-winning design firm - instead I have become one," he adds proudly. Today, Jeff Fisher LogoMotives is a successful home-based design firm in Portland Oregon, with clients throughout the United Staes and around the world.

In November of 1999, Jeff's web site went live - and a whole new world opened up to him. He seamlessly began to reach and obtain clients throughout the United States and foreign countries - many of whom he has never even met personally

"What has taken place with the Internet is my ability to work from whereever I may be at the time - be it a mountaintop, a hotel room, or the beach," he adds, commenting on the increased flexibility and life balance it has afforded him.

"The Internet has been an incredible tool for doing what is necessary to do to make the new business real. Whether it's networking with others in the same situation, researching business sites, checking out the competition or getting information from the Small Business Administration; it's all at your fingertips through the Internet," he explains.

For the most part, the initial funding for Jeff's graphic design came out of working part-time jobs. When he first moved to Portland, he worked part-time in a picture frame shop. He had worked in restaurants, art galleries, and retail, so he knew he would always have something to fall back on if absolutely necessary.

Early on, Jeff's grandparents helped out by loaning him a small sum of money for his business venture. "It also helps to have a supportive partner in life, who can help play the 'musical money' game when required," he adds. "A bank would have laughed me out of their office at the time."

When Jeff started his business in 1980 right out of college, he literally had nothing. "This was pre-personal computers, and in fact, I had never even seen a computer."

For nearly the first ten years of his business all work was done by hand. All original art work was drawn with a rapidiograph ink pen. All ads, brochures, newsletters, magazines were produced in the old "cut and paste" method.

The expenses came later with the need for a computer, software, a printer and all the other items required to technically run a design office. Then, of course, he needed to upgrade equipment on a regular basis.

He now owns: a large desktop system, a color laser printer, a work-horse black and white laser printer, a color inkjet printer, a laptop computer, a portable color ink-jet printer, a CD burner, a fax machine/copier and more. "In equipment alone I probably made a $35,000 - $45,000 investment. I also own a library of over 200 design books and mannuals - the same books I could never afford as a student!"

Jeff's desire to study graphic design in college was not met with enthusiasm. "I don't know how many times I heard, 'You will never be able to make a living as a designer or an artist," he adds.

During the course of his first year at the University of Oregon, he began to feel as if all the naysayers were right. "I hated the graphic design program and was ready to quit school," he adds.

A friend in the advertising program suggested Jeff speak to one of the professors in the Journalism School. "However, I would be required to take all the required journalism coursework to be able to take the design courses I wanted," says Jeff. The investment paid off for Jeff. The classes he took in typography, public relations, marketing, journalistic writing and advertising would make him much more successful as a designer later in his career.

While at the University of Oregon, he got a part-time job as the graphic designer for the advertising department of the daily college newspaper, The Oregon Daily Emerald. With that position, his career in design began...

"I think I have always had the entrepreneurial spirit," says Jeff. "As a young boy I can remember picking the blossoms off my mother's favorite roses and, with the help of my sister and brothers, mashing them in water, bottling it as perfume and selling it to our neighbors," he adds. At the time, he didn't realize he would be successful years later in a different creative field.

Jeff's interest in design and art began as far back as grade school in Salem, Oregon. By the time he had graduated from high school he'd exhibited his artwork in several galleries, won several art awards and had three one-man shows of his work.

When he moved to Portland, Oregon in the fall of 1980 he had no intention to work for himself. "Thinking I was pretty hot stuff, I assumed I would be working for one of the major advertising firms in the city," admits Jeff. Unfortunately, the recession arrived in Portland the same week, and Jeff couldn't find a job.

However, that did not stop him from talking to any advertising person who would open their door to him. "I never asked people if they had a job for me when requesting time with them. I asked if they would talk to me about advertising as a career and their experiences in the field. People love to talk about themselves." Soon these same people were calling him with freelance design projects and giving his name to other potential clients. "By accident, I had started my own design firm."

"In junior high, high school and college I actually would dream of being a 'famous' graphic designer. I would go to libraries or bookstores and thumb through design books dreaming of the day my work would appear for all to see." At that time, he couldn't even afford the books - now he owns an entire graphic design library.

It seems as if his "big break" took about 15 years to arrive. "For those 15 years I took on any and every design project that came my way. I was busy, and making a living, but not always thrilled with the projects. I was the most happy with my work when designing logos," he adds.

Still, he began to do more and more logo design. His sister, Sue Fisher, had opened a public relations and advertising firm in Bend, Oregon and began to send logo design projects his way.

Jeff decided to add "Jeff Fisher" to the business name "LogoMotives." With this company name change, he could convey his reputation of more than 15 years and tell potential clients what he actually designed. The result was almost immediate in more identity projects coming his way. "With more exposure to the name Jeff Fisher LogoMotives clients began to seek me out and I had to do less searching for work," he adds.

With the focus on what he enjoyed doing most - his work also improved a great deal. Major clients, with projects other than logo design, began to contact me including: The Portland Trail Blazers, The Seattle Seahawks and others big names.

In changing the focus of his business to logo design, he took on a new attitude about his work and began to accept it as a REAL business. "For years, I had told people I was a freelance designer and the reaction was not always positive. The term "freelance" also implied that my work had less value than that of a person in a traditional employment position," explains Jeff. "When I started treating myself more like a business others did as well," he adds.

Jeff also changed his strategy in marketing his business. He no longer participated in print advertising or direct mail promotions. Instead, Jeff shifted that budget to the entry fees required to enter international and national graphic design competitions. The results came quickly. To date, he has won over 300 design awards for his logos. Many such competitions result in design books or annuals being published. "You would be amazed at the number of potential clients contacting me after seeing my work in various design books, while flipping through them at their local book store," he adds.

"Being able to let go of various aspects of your business where you can really use help is probably the most difficult thing to do," he says. He suggests that anyone considering starting their own business determine what they most want to be doing in the venture - and what they do not want to do.

"I do not like tracking the finances of my business and I do not do it." His partner and his accountant (who has lots of experience with "creative types") have trained him to sort all receipts and other financial items into pre-prepared envelopes each year. Then, they take care of the paperwork. "I know it will get done properly and I don't have to become a neurotic mess dealing with it," he adds.

Jeff's best piece of advice is to find a business that involves doing something you truly enjoy doing on a regular basis. "Don't just start a business just because you see a need for it in a certain location or at a certain time. You must have a passion for the business - especially since it will consume you and your life at times," he adds.

So often people are not open to the opportunities right before them when it comes to stating their own business. "I think I was guilty of that in not focusing on logo and corporate identity design much sooner," says Jeff. Many people overlook the skills, passion, and knowledge within them-selves when considering a new venture. "It may require stepping away from the project a bit, getting the advice of friends about your ideas or what they see as your strong points, and talking to people in business so you don't necessarily have the same difficulties they may have had along the way," he adds.

"Do the research and leg work," says Jeff. As someone who works with many people starting new businesses, he notices a smarter and more realistic entrepreneur in today's economy. "People are not doing the old Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland 'let's put on a show' routine and immediately opening a new business." Lately he's had numerous clients come to him to start the design process on their business identity a year or 18 months prior to their scheduled business opening. "They are carefully researching all aspects of the business, allowing a reasonable amount of time for all tasks associated with opening the new business," he notes

His friends and clients would probably agree that his mantra actually is to work less and charge higher fees! "The odd thing is that each time I have raised my rates - I get more potential clients and end up working more. There is the perception that if it cost more it must be good, or better," he explains.

Meanwhile, Jeff has built a home-based business that affords him the freedom to pave his own way. "It's not that I don't play well with others; it's just that I want to choose where, when and with whom I play." That was a goal early on in his career and it becomes more real every day.

This article, written by Maria DiBenedetto, was originally posted on Citibank's in March 2001

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives