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