Excavated Design Artifact #16

In the late 1980's, while living in Seattle, I shared offices with several entities that were clients, or later became clients. The Seattle Men's Chorus, the Pride Foundation, City Guide Magazine and Alice B. Theatre were the other tenants in the combined space in what was an energetic, creative and fun working environment.

Alice B. Theatre was founded in 1984 in conjunction with the first Gay and Lesbian Theatre Festival in Seattle. The theatre company name is a reference to Alice B. Toklas - the confidante, lover, cook, secretary, muse, editor, critic, and general organizer of writer Gertrude Stein. In 1933 Stein published her memoirs under the title The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. Toklas released her own book, The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook, in 1954. A memoir containing a collection of recipes, it is probably best known for its instructions on making cannabis brownies (which later played a role in the plot of the 1968 Peter Sellers movie I Love You, Alice B. Toklas). In old photos Toklas is often seen wearing a big floppy hat.

My workspace next door neighbor, Alice B. Theatre, made use of my design services in creating print ads, flyers, posters and other items for the live theatre performances presented in the local community. The one thing the group was lacking was a strong graphic identity. At some point I suggested to the organization's director that it might be worthwhile to put some time and energy into creating a logo for the group.

As my present day office cleaning attests, I began doodling my ideas for the image on just about any paper surface I came across. The first was a a pencil sketch on a page from a memo pad given to me from a printer in Lynnwood, WA. On a scrap torn off a yellow, lined legal notepad was another rough concept done in a think black felt pen. Yet another idea was executed in India ink on a piece of tracing paper. (Yes, I've saved these things for two decades!)

Each concept included a reference to the floppy hat once worn by Alice B. Toklas. Another common element was at least one evident triangle shape, creating a bow, as a symbolic tip of the hat to the primarily gay and lesbian target audience of the performing arts group. The font University Roman, which had been used on some previous theatre marketing and promotion materials, was the typeface given the most consideration throughout the process.

As I fine-tuned the concept from the legal tablet I decided the logo was a bit too flat, long and skinny. I felt as if the hat needed more weight and presence in the identity. The treatment of the font related back to my earliest doodle on the printing company memo sheet.

I've always liked the final logo design and the image it conveyed for the the theatre company. Unfortunately, I moved back to Portland before any kind of full-fledged branding effort could be introduced. According to documentation in the Special Collections of the University of Washington Libraries, Alice B. Theatre disbanded in the spring of 1996 and reorganized as Alice B. Arts in September 1996. It then ceased operations completely in 1997.

In reviewing the 20-year-old logo today, I might have designed one portion of the image differently. The big and small caps, used in the organization name, may have been replaced with the cleaner, more simple, all caps treatment displayed in the concept making use of the long, thin hat graphic. It always bugged me that the tagline was broken into two elements in my final design. It would have been read much more easily as one complete line under the Alice B. Theater name.

(This post originally appeared on bLog-oMotives.)

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Re-Design: Oregon Department of Forestry

In its seventy-nine-year history, the Oregon Department of Forestry has been represented by a series of identities. Most recently, in 1971, the department adopted a half-tree logo (below).

They had been using this logo for nearly two decades when a change was proposed. Many within (and out of) the State of Oregon government agency disliked the image and found that it was confusing to many others. Some thought the thin half-tree graphic conveyed a message of unhealthy forests.

The new logo (above) conveys a much more simplified and organic image, while maintaining some the inherent formality of a government agency identity. It projected the Department of Forestry's growing involvement and interest in all forest resources, including air, soil, water and trees. The new image is more inline with the Oregon Board of Forestry's new guiding policy document, the Forestry Program for Oregon.

The logo is the department identifier on all printed collateral, vehicles, uniform shoulder patches, the website and other materials. It is widely recognized due to the carving of the logo on signage at the Oregon Department of Forestry headquarters and throughout the state at ranger stations and state forest boundaries (above).

The rebranding of the Oregon Department of Forestry by Jeff Fisher LogoMotives is one of 50 case studies, from designers and firms around the world, featured in my latest book, Identity Crisis!: 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities Into Successful Brands. The actual spread from the book is posted on the Identity Crisis! blog. The volume was released by HOW Books in late 2007.

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Business Logos

(Clockwise from upper left)

Salem Clinic
Client: Salem Clinic
Location: Salem Clinic USA

Salem Clinic was founded in 1925 by a group of three physicians. I created the facility's new identity in 1995, entwining the "S" and "C" letterforms within a traditional medical cross graphic.

Cooper & Associates
Client: Brad Cooper & Associates, Inc.
Location: Littleton, CO USA

A microphone image is the centerpiece of the identity for inspiration speaker Brad Cooper. Cooper is also an award-winning author, national columnist, Certified Myers-Briggs Facilitator, IRONMAN World Championship and repeat All-American Triathlete. The logo has appeared in The Big Book of Logos 3, American Corporate Identity 2003 and Graphically Speaking.

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

Archinetix provides infrastructure and network consulting for a wide variety of entities. In some applications of the logo the cube element of the "a" letterform rotates. The identity appears in the books American Corporate Identity 2001 and Logo World (Japan).

Co-Motion Cycles
Client: Co-Motion Cycles
Location: Eugene, OR USA

Co-Motion Cycles designs and produces handmade tandem, road bike, travel and touring bicycles. The identity, designed in association with Creative Director Jerril Nilson, is featured in the book Logo World (Japan).

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

Marketing a Portland balloon business in Africa?

Back in 1998 I redesigned the identity for the Portland-based company Balloons on Broadway. Several years after that first redesign I was again hired by my friend, and company owner, Ron Pitt to update the logo.

My original redesign of the logo for the retail store, balloon delivery business and event company won a Summit Creative Award, and appears in the books Logos Redesigned and The New Big Book of Logos.

Fast forward nearly a decade from my first redesign.

Last week a received an email from my friend and client, with the heading "Such a small world in which we live..." Ron explained that his dear friend Ashley, whom he had known since birth as he was a longtime friend of her mother, had assisted him over the years with events and was an "expert balloon inflater." This past year, Ashley and her husband, Travis, had the opportunity to travel through East Africa with her parents. Being community-minded, they spent much of their time in small villages getting to know people, creating relationships and making new friends along the way.

The photos below showcased one of the families they befriended.

Ashley was the first to notice the following:

It really is a small world.

Unfortunately no one is able to adequately explain how the Balloons on Broadway logo ended up embroidered on the leg of a boy's shorts on a continent far away. As Ron noted, "We've never embroidered shorts, nor done much marketing in East Africa (*wink*). In fact we only had one screen run of 12 t-shirts with that logo and they all ended up on the back of our staff. That's it."

"The only way I can rationalize it is that the logo appeared in a publication of some sort in the UK (perhaps one of those listed above) and since Kenya's part of the Commonwealth, the publication ended up there and was spotted by someone who thought it would be a good knock-off," he added. "The boy's mother said she bought the shorts at the local market and couldn't quite understand what all the fuss was about - the kid just needed some shorts."

So, this is just another example of the fact that, especially in this digital world, a designer never knows when work for their clients may be "borrowed" by someone for another use.

This entry originally appeared on bLog-oMotives.

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Excavated Design Artifact #15

The bit of my design career past I found this past week is different than most of my previously posted excavated artifacts. In addition to filing away examples of past logo design projects, I've been going through a stack of old articles written about my work and archiving them. I came across a clipping, from the U.K. newspaper The Sunday Times, in which a logo I designed is critiqued by Lisa Godson. In my entire career it is the only piece of my work reviewed by a major publication.

The logo was created for a web development firm in Dublin, Ireland by the name of DesignEire. The project was one of the first international projects I had done entirely by way of the Internet. The review appeared as part of Godson's regular column "Designer Ireland" on June 6, 2004.

No. 237: DesignEire

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, and 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.

As mentioned in the review, the DesignEire logo did receive its fair share of additional recognition. The design won a Summit Creative Award (Silver) and appears in the books The Big Book of Logos 3, New Logo World (Japan), Graphically Speaking, Global Corporate Identity, and Logo Design for Small Business 2.

It's interesting to look back on the critique of the design. The simplicity of the finished design has always made it one of my personal favorites. Once again, I'm glad I never throw anything away.

(This entry originally appeared on bLog-oMotives).

Content of review © Copyright 2007 Times Newspapers Ltd.

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Identity Re-Design:
Shleifer Marketing Communications

Denny Shleifer’s original logo treatment (below), consisting of his initials and type, identified his business, but conveyed very little about the energetic and enthusiastic public relations and marketing professional.

My early 90's graphic representations of television, radio and print media bursting out of Shleifer’s name (below left) conveyed much more about the individual and his professional expertise. (I featured my original doodle of the graphic, and more detail about the project, in a previous "excavated artifact" bLog-oMotives posting) The client felt he had been captured perfectly in the one concept presented as a possible new logo. The logo was revised slightly (below right) when the PR expert incorporated his business, and tweaked the name a bit, a few years later.

The Shleifer logo, in its two iterations, was featured in the design books Letterhead & Logo Design 4, The Best of Letterhead & Logo Design, International Logos & Trademarks 4, Letterhead & Logo Design 5, More Logos & Letterheads, and the Japanese offerings New Logo & Trademark Design and Logo & Trademark Collection.

(Note: My new book, Identity Crisis!: 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities Into Successful Brands, contains case studies from 35 designers and firms located around the world. Learn more about the book on the Identity Crisis! blog.)

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Business Logos

(Clockwise from upper left)

Diane Tutch
Client: Diane Tutch
Location: Portland, OR USA

An organizational chart becomes a letterform in the identity of management consultant Diane Tutch. The logo appears in the books Bullet-Proof Logos, The New Big Book of Logos and New Logo & Trademark Design (Japan).

Fritz Creek Gardens
Client: Fritz Creek Gardens
Location: Horner, AK USA

The owner's stories and photos of moose visiting her nursery gardens led to the graphic representation of the creature smelling the flowers. The Fritz Creek identity appears in the books The New Big Book of Logos and Blue is Hot, Red is Cool.

New England Firewood Company
Client: New England Firewood Company
Location: Lancaster, MA USA

A New England cabin, with smoke rising from the chimney is the centerpiece for this logo used to market and promote a company selling pre-packaged firewood to retailers, bed and breakfast establishments, and others. The design is featured in The Big Book of Logos 3, American Corporate Identity 2003, and Logos from North to South America (Spain).

Big Daddy Marketing Specialties
Client: Big Daddy Marketing Specialties
Location: Lake Oswego, OR USA

The imposing physical presence of the business owner is graphically represented in this logo for a marketing specialties firm. The logo is featured in the book Logos from North to South America (Spain).

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