Overlapping orbits in the blog-o-sphere

Some time ago I posted a bLog-oMotives entry about Kevin Carroll - and his words of wisdom appearing on Starbucks coffee cups around the U.S. It seems that my post caught the attention of KC himself.

Today, my blog entry is quoted in It's a Blogger's Universe!! on his Katalyst Consultancy Blog. Thanks for the mention! In fact, yesterday I had an email from a member of Kevin's staff, informing me of my impending appearance on his blog, and mentioning I was an "inspiration to Kevin around setting up our blog." It's not a bad thing to be able to send some inspiration in the direction of one who inspires so many others, including myself.

Coincidently, his inspiration just came my way in the form of a gift of Kevin's book, Rules of the Red Rubber Ball: Find and Sustain Your Life's Work, from my friends Lisa and Bev at my surprise birthday party this past weekend. Now, I just need to play stalker to get Kevin to sign my copy. Actually, that shouldn't be too difficult, with Portland being his home base as well.

© 2006 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

They got me!

I don't remember ever having a surprise birthday party. Well, I did Saturday night - a week after my 50th birthday and it was a great surprise (that or I'm just oblivious to what is going on around me!).

Dinner and an overnight stay had been planned with our friend Mike Smith at his beautiful home on the grounds of Joy Creek Nursery (the nursery's "lavender path" is pictured). We've always referred to his place as "our country house." Ed and I arrived at the nursery for what I thought was going to be a quiet dinner with Mike, and our friends Chuck Palahniuk and Mike Keefe. I was out wandering the gardens when Mike came out of the house, to find Ed and ask if there was some confusion about a main course as he had not prepared one. Ed mentioned he hadn't brought one either. Mike responded that he had a leg of lamb as a backup (OK, I really am oblivious). Back in the house, Ed took a phone call and walked into the kitchen with a silly grin. At that point, I asked "What is going on?" and I was told my friend Ron Pitt was not feeling well and couldn't join us. OK, I didn't know that Ron was planning on joining us, and I'm not that oblivious. It was then I realized something was going on - just not what was involved.

Then I saw a familiar vehicle pull in the nursery's retail parking lot - the car of my friend (and long-time client) Lisa Horne. I knew I'd been had. She was soon followed by our next door neighbor Stacey Elkins - bearing tiramisu made by my friend Pat Di Prima of Di Prima Dolci. Then my friends Lisa Francolini, Bev Wells, Anne Kilkenny, Jon Naviaux, Craig Ellis, Chuck, Mike, Debby Higgins and the nursery's neighbors Pierce and Erin showed up. Most of these friends have also been traveling companions to Italy, the Caribbean, or for our annual gold-mining adventure to the Wallowas. I'd been had - big time!

With this group it's always about the food and wine. The evening started off with a great assortment of "poo poos" and Armance B. Brut and Domaine Barmes-Buecher Cremant D'Alsace The incredible meal to come was what I had asked Lisa Francolini (who is also my acupuncturist) to prepare for a birthday dinner I was supposedly having at her house the next evening: her incredible spinach soup, what has become her signature chop salad, chicken parmesan (which would have made her grandmother proud) and fresh asparagus picked that afternoon from the Joy Creek garden. With my dinner I drank a Chablis Grand Cru "Bougros" while the red wine drinkers imbided on a Dona Paula Mendoza Los Cardos Malbec. Then it was time for the dessert buffet of a banana cake, a German chocolate cake, the tiramisu, Craig's homemade biscotti and Anne's special lemon offering "for the digestion" (which needs to be said in an Italian accent). It was an incredible meal, with amazing friends.

Of course, after all that bubbly and the great wine I had no problem at all in dropping my pants to share my 50th birthday tattoo. I even discovered that Erin and I share the same tattoo artist.

It was a wonderful evening in my extendo-birthday schedule. Thanks to everyone for making the surprise dinner so much fun. Two more b-day dinners are still to come this week...

Photo courtesy of Joy Creek Nursery

© 2006 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives.

Review: Logo Design Workbook

Subtitled "A hands-on guide to creating logos," the book Logo Design Workbook, by Sean Adams and Noreen Morika (with Terry Stone), is a must on the studio library shelf of any designer interested in the creation of logos. Now in paperback, this Rockport Publishers offering covers all aspects of identity design clearly and specifically. From "The Ten Rules" to "Implementing Logos," the authors provide a visual smorgasbord of case studies and examples from firms such as Landor Associates, Morla Design, Pentagram, and over 45 other studios of all sizes, in explaining the basics and the idiosynchrocies of the logo design process. This book should be required reading for the students of any educational institution as they begin to study the creation of identities.

© 2006 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Using, fusing and abusing “the rules” of logo design

Over 35 years ago I was designing my earliest logos. Since then some basic principles, or rules, about designing identities have always stuck with me and guided my efforts in the development of graphic symbols to represent businesses, organizations and events. Curiosity about the rules used by other designers, led me to ask Jeff Andrews of Jeff Andrews Design, SKA Studios' Sheri Audette, and Steve Gordon, Jr. of RDQ to share their personal experiences in regards to logo design guidelines.

The latest Logo Notions column has gone live on Creative Latitude. Check out the rules that guide logo designers in Using, fusing and abusing “the rules” of logo design.

© 2006 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

The unveiling: Kiss my caboose...

Well, the big day is here. I'm 50! In our last episode on this topic I explained that I was letting 50 know exactly how I felt by having a lip print tattooed on my ass. (I guess, with longevity in my family history, I've officially reached "middle age.") Thanks again to Paul Zenk, at Infinity Tattoo in North Portland, for making the whole experience so much fun. In my previous bLog-oMotives entry I mentioned that Ed's mother had asked, "But why aren't you having it done where people can see it?" Well, those who know me had no doubt that at some point the tattoo would be exhibited for all to see - and today is the day. So, here it is - on my big day. Kiss my ass, 50!!!

The Power of the Press (Release)

For supposedly being creative individuals, it is surprising how many designers do not think creatively when it comes to marketing and promoting their own work. Getting your name out to potential clients does not always mean lugging a heavy portfolio around to numerous art directors, making cold phone calls, or producing a slick and expensive direct mail piece. These traditional methods of introducing yourself to your target audience can be time-consuming, produce limited results, given the relatively small audience, and be very frustrating to a designer trying to work at the same time.

A much more effective way of promoting yourself may be through public relations. When you translate your efforts into what the traditional media of magazines and newspapers considers “news,” you create the possibility of free publicity – and we all know that “free” is a very good thing. While coming from a family of public relations professionals may have contributed to my non-traditional way of marketing my own design business, there is no reason why it can not be done by any other designer.

Read the rest of this article on the May update of CreativeLatitude.com. The newly updated piece originally appeared on the former VisualArtsTrends and Commpiled web sites. It was also previously published in an issue of the American Society of Media Photographers publication, ASMP Bulletin.

© 2006 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Toot!*: Ambition is "the drive to thrive and stay alive"

Just a little "Toot!*" about the fact I got a message yesterday from Joel Welsh, the Chief Community Officer for the business web presence StartupNation.com. He wanted me to know that a comment of mine, from the site's community forum, had landed my "mug" on the StartupNation home page. Thanks, Joel - and thanks StartupNation.

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

© 2006 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Kiss my *ss, 50!

It's odd how I have reacted to attaining different ages over the years. My 21st birthday was celebrated by splitting a bottle of Pinch with a friend. Nearly three decades later I still can't even stand the smell of Scotch. I don't recall how I marked my 30th, but I do remember that turning 35 was a tough one for me and I wanted as little attention paid to my birthday as possible.

I started to show symptoms of what my partner Ed refers to a "Jeff's first mid-life crisis" as I neared the age of 40. I found myself feeling quite moody, and making odd comments like "I have no friends" and "what happens if I wake up one morning and I'm not creative any longer?" To get me out of my funk, a committee of friends was called into action to create a little boy's cowboy birthday party for me. Since I was a kid I've been fascinated with all things "cowboy" and "Cowboy Jeffie" has been a long-time nickname. The guests to the birthday party were required to dress in cowboy (or cowgirl) artire and all gifts were cowboy-related childrens' toys. It still ranks as one of the best parties I've ever had - or been to for that matter.

A personal method of acknowledging my 40th year was to get my ear pierced. I'd thought about it for years and always chickened out. Then, on a talk show, I saw actor Harrison Ford discussing the fact that he'd recently had his ear pierced at a little shop in a mall. If Indiana Jones could get his ear pierced, I certainly could do the same. Ed didn't think I would actually do it - but he still went out and bought me the gift certificate to have it done. One day I went to the Pioneer Place mall here in Portland and had my ear pierced by a woman with numerous fascinating visible piercings (and I'm sure a few that were not as evident). It was not an unpleasant experience - and it's been a great reason to collect jewelry in the years since.

I decided to "mark" my 50th in some permanent manner as well. A couple years ago I suggested that I should get a tattoo, or get a nipple pierced, before hitting the half-century mark. Ed vetoed the piercing immediately! Getting a tattoo was on my mental list of "Things to do before I turn 50" so, it did seem like the best option.

The new quandry in regards to the tattoo was "what" and "where." Some suggested that I have my own logo tattooed somewhere on my body. It could be considered great marketing and the tat would be a tax-deductible business expense. I wasn't sure about taking my LogoMotives "branding" to that extreme. I'm certainly not taking on my 50th birthday surrendering to an age that seemed so old when I was a kid. I decided to let 50 know exactly how I felt with a tattoo of a nice lip print on my rear-end, as in "kiss my ass, 50!" Several friends submitted possible lipstick prints on bar napkins and laser paper - and my friend Shawn's beautiful lips (above) won out over her 13-year-old daughter and others.

On Friday I stopped by the great neighborhood tattoo studio,Infinity Tattoo, to make an appointment. I'm glad I did. The owner, Paul Zenk. explained that they had been booked for two months in advance, but just had a cancellation for 4:00 Saturday. All in the studio had a great laugh when I told them what I wanted tattooed on what part of my body.

The tattoo artist called about 3:00 p.m. Saturday, asking if I could come by earlier than planned so he could then enjoy the rest of the beautiful afternoon with his wife and kids. I was in the middle of preparations for a BBQ dinner celebrating Ed's birthday, Mother's Day, Ed's sister's birthday and my birthday. I told Ed's Mom I needed to leave for a little while as I was getting a tattoo on my ass. She looked at me and said "Jeff, like I'm going to believe that!" When she realized I was serious, the look on her face was priceless. She then asked, "But why aren't you having it done where people can see it?" I guess she doesn't really know me very well...

Just as I got to the great little studio, Paul's young daughter came in to ask if her dad could come out and play. He responded with "Not until I tattoo lips on Jeff's ass." His daughter perked up with "Lips on his ass - can I watch?" She was immediately escorted out of the studio by her mother, who had just come in from working in the beautiful garden surrounding the building.

Paul transferred Shawn's lips to my right butt cheek and mixed the inks to what we felt was a great red lipstick color. The tattooing itself was not really painful. Instead, it felt like a series of electrical shocks - or maybe bee stings - on my rear-end. When he was done with the tattoo, Paul had me take a look in a full-length mirror and then show the completed art to a couple women in the studio. One of them said, "Oh my God, it looks just like someone has kissed your ass!" Mission accomplished!

I was a bit sore that evening - but three glasses of a nice Umbrian white wine helped me to sleep just fine. I called my friend Shawn yesterday and referred to her as an "ass-kisser." She said she felt so proud and almost started crying when I had determined that her lips where going to be tattooed on my gluteus maximus. (I'm not sure how her husband Greg really feels about his wife's lips being permanently adhered to my behind.) Things are still a bit tender this morning and I'm following the Infinity Tattoo aftercare instructions closely. I'm in the "wash gently and apply lotion 3-4 times a day" phase. In a few days all will be healed. Hopefully my bussed butt will be ready to be unveiled on my birthday this next weekend. I will be saying goodbye to my 40's - and the years between 50 and 60 had better watch out!

© 2006 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives.

Jeffism #3

“‘Freelance’ is a nasty little word. It seems to imply an individual doesn’t have a ‘real’ job, can’t get a job, isn’t truly professional in their field, and is willing to work for ‘free.’” - Jeff Fisher

Tipping the scales toward successful identity design

Having created identities for several law firms over the years, I was recently asked to write a short piece on identity design for the Spring 2006 issue of Legal Management News: The Journal of the Association of Legal Administrators - Oregon Chapter. The text of that article follows:

When initiating the task of establishing a new corporate identity, most businesses find themselves wandering (or stumbling) into foreign territory. The following tips will assist those taking on such a project, making the design process a bit easier when dealing with “creative types” in solving a firm’s identity crisis.

Do not try this at home

Having a computer, and design software programs, does not make an individual an identity designer. Hire a professional to create your business logo – a basic element of your “brand.” Not all graphic designers, or design studios, specialize in identity design. Do your research in selecting the designer, or firm, to best fulfill the specific requirements of your corporate identity project. Seek referrals from businesses previously working with identity firms, flip through logo and identity design books at a local bookstore for design styles you like, or review portfolios of designers – in person or online – until you find the design professional best fitting your needs. Select someone with whom you will “play” well. Larger corporate identity projects and continuing branding efforts may evolve into a form of marriage between a business and a creative company.

The K.I.S.S. Principle

Nearly 30 years ago an instructor introduced me to the K.I.S.S. Principle of design; which translates to: Keep It Simple, Stupid. It does convey a very important design consideration. Simple logos are often the most easily recognized and memorable. Remember, the basis of the international branding for the world’s largest shoe manufacturer is a very simple graphic swoosh. The identity process for the Portland law firm Samuels Yoelin Kantor Seymour & Spinrad went through numerous sometimes complicated iterations before coming back to an early, very simple, concept of two thick law books creating the “S” letterform – representing the name Samuels, designated as the one constant in any future name changes. The icon has served the company well for the past decade.

Seeing your business image in black and white

When asked for the most important considerations in designing a logo, the K.I.S.S. Principle (above) is number one, followed closely by “make sure your logo works well in black and white.” Even in this time of technical and cyber marvels it is important for a business identity to translate clearly and professionally in black and white for the copying, faxing and scanning of required documents. In addition, a logo should initially be created in a vector-based illustration program (such as Adobe Illustrator or Macromedia Freehand) allowing for digital flexibility and easy usage in all applications your business may require, from a stationery package to signage. Those basic files will allow a designer to create and provide all the digital resources required to implement the identity into your internal systems. The frequently misused “bells and whistles” of some computer programs, put into action for 3-D effects, beveled edges, skewed type, gradients and other often-unnecessary graphic treatments, may create distractions from the readability and success of a corporate identity.

A graphic and financial investment in your corporate future

The creation of your logo, one of the most important and visible elements of your corporate image, should be regarded as an investment in the future of your firm’s marketing, promotion, advertising and community presence. That investment will include the actual costs of incorporating the new identity into your stationery, signage, web site, marketing efforts and much more. Designers do occasionally create over-the-top identities that may evolve into unnecessarily costly production and printing expenditures. Determine if your identity will really require a spendy four-color printing process. Evaluate whether embossing and foil-stamping are necessary on stationery used daily – especially when that expense may literally be flattened and melted by an overheated laser printer. Trendiness in a corporate identity may be a costly mistake as well. A logo should have some longevity and connect with a firm’s clientele and history in a positive manner. Shapes, colors and type treatments need to be evaluated for appropriateness. For example, the swooshes and arcs so prevalent in the dot com explosion of the last decade, now convey the negative connotation of the business doom of that time. In judging recent international design awards I have reviewed countless business identities using various shades of green and orange (individually and together); colors that will soon seem very dated. Unique, conservative and professional type treatments, beyond the limited, over-used font selections installed on a basic computer system, will set a business apart from the trendy appearances of other companies.

Putting your money where your logo is

Confirm that your company is ready to make that investment – emotionally and financially – in a new business identity and then revisit the supposedly final selection again. In 1998, the Portland firm now known as Smith Freed & Eberhard had expended a great deal of time, energy and resources in the selection of a new corporate identity. Many printed elements of the new image had already been produced and implemented. However, there was one major problem with the new logo. In the alphabet soup of the firm name at the time – Smith Freed Heald & Chock – the placement of the typographical elements within the logo did not correspond to the proper order of the partner’s initials in the business name. When it came time to cast the logo in bronze for the lobby signage the “powers that be” balked at spending thousands of dollars to create the over-sized plaque with the partner initials in the incorrect order. At that time I was brought in to completely redesign the firm’s identity – and have revised that design twice in the years since with changes in the corporate name.

Thoughtful planning, extensive research, attention to details, and excellent communication – with internal decision-makers and your design professional – will tip the scales in the direction of a successful corporate identity design.

NOTE: For more information about the Association of Legal Administrators - Oregon Chapter visit their web site.

© 2006 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Musings on underwear and "tooting" in Spokane

Quite a few times a year I am asked to make presentations on various aspects of the design business to education or business groups around the country. This past week I was invited to make two presentations in Spokane, WA. The flight up to Spokane, on Tuesday evening, was beautiful. The plane left Portland on a crystal clear day and flew up between Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams - with St. Helens putting on a little show with a steam plume. I was surprised at the size of Spokane as we arrived in the city. I hadn't been in the area since I was a teenager and it's grown just a bit.

Spokane Advertising Federation President Dean Davis picked me up at the airport and delivered me to the beautiful Spokane Athletic Club - my home for the night. After getting settled I went for a walk around the vibrant downtown area; checking out the Spokane Falls and the historic Davenport Hotel. Back at the athletic club I took a quick steam bath to clear my allergy-stuffed head, grabbed an incredible burger in the bar and crashed for the night.

Bright and early I was picked up and driven to the Spokane Falls Community College campus. Design instructor Greg Stiles gave me a complete tour of the impressive design department facilities, showed me examples of great student work, and prepared me for my presentation. In addition to Spokane Falls design students, I was speaking to students from the Eastern Washington University Visual Communication Design program. It was pleasure to meet Assistant Professor Mindy Breen, who was responsible for writing the grant to cover my visit, and I enjoyed learning more from her (and department instructor Tom Couraud) about the EWU program. Hopefully I will be able to check out their facilities in person in the future.

The topic of my discussion was Designing in my Underwear: Briefs on a career, the original vetoed title proposal for my book The Savvy Designer's Guide to Success. I shared anecdotes about my career, online resources of value to students beginning their careers, portfolio suggestions for new designers and answered numerous questions posed by the attentive audience. Greg Stiles told me he was especially pleased when I told the students "As you leave school behind, the door of that learning experience will hit you in the ass and your actual design education will begin."

Then it was off to my next presentation at the stunning Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture. I wish I'd had time to check out the entire museum and its exhibits. After grabbing a quick sandwich, it was time to speak to the members of the Spokane Advertising Federation. My topic, Tooting Your Own Horn, was probably a refresher course for many of the attendees - but I gave it that "it's better to be a smart ass, than a dumb ass" spin. I really enjoyed the time spent with the group and met some great people.

Following the luncheon presentation, group president and professional photographer, Dean Davis (you really should check out his work) got to "babysit" me for a couple hours before I jetted back to Portland. He took me to his wonderful commerical condo space in a renovated brick produce warehouse. The studio was in a bit of turmoil as it was becoming a gallery for an exhibition of "tramp art" sculptures and installations by Spokane artist Tim Lord. Dean and I escaped the studio and went to scout a location for his photo shoot the next day of pollinating red oak trees (not that I really needed a good dose of pollen). It was a great opportunity to see more of Spokane and enjoy the warm spring day.

When we returned to his studio, Dean took me upstairs to the offices of Klündt Hosmer Design - where his very talented spouse, designer Judy Heggem-Davis, happens to work. (By the way, "Happy Birthday" Judy!). I had the opportunity to meet most of the Klündt Hosmer gang, including principles Rick Hosmer and Darin Klündt. Darin was responsible for me speaking in Spokane. He recommended me after having seen me speak at the 2005 HOW Design Conference. Thanks to everyone at Klündt Hosmer for making me feel so welcome, for the copy of your new direct mail piece and for the popsicle!

Back downstairs in his studio, Dean shared some of one of his 40th birthday bottles of wine with me and then it was off to the airport. My visit to Spokane was just about 24 hours. It seemed much longer as so much was packed into the limited stay. I look forward to returning again - and now have many reasons to do so. Thanks to everyone who made my visit so enjoyable. Special thanks to Greg Stiles, Mindy Breen and Dean Davis for their efforts in putting together my Spokane adventure.

Spokane Falls photo ©1997-present, Spokane Community College

© 2006 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

A quick "thank you" to GDUSA

While I had a moment this morning, I want to thank GDUSA publisher Gordon Kaye for the mention is his letter for the April 2006 issue. I was surprised to see my name as I read the magazine on a plane yesterday. It seems that their 50th anniversary issue poll on the most influential creatives of the era, which I addressed in a previous blog entry, generated a bit of feedback. Many comments were in regards to the absence of major design figures from the published poll results. Kaye included my comment, "I think it says a lot about the education of young designers and a lack of design hisory in that education." Kaye himself wrote, "Many of you agree, including recent graduates who tell us thay simply have not been taught about the giants on whose shoulders they stand." I hope those individuals establishing design school curriculum are listening.

While on the topic of GDUSA, I should mention the issue also contains Logolounge: The 2006 Report on logo design trends from the uploads to the site in the past year. Anyone interested in identity design should take a look.

One of the news items in the issue, C&G Wakes Up Early Sunday Morning was also something I discussed in a past bLog-oMotives posting.

I'd better get my act together now. The reason I was on a plane yesterday, and I'm now sitting in a hotel room in my underwear writing this, is that I am speaking to a group of design students from Spokane Falls Community College and Eastern Washington University this morning. Then, over the lunch hour, I will be making a presentation to the Spokane Advertising Federation. Then it's back on a plane to Portland this afternoon.

© 2006 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

If you could start over again, what would you do?

A couple years ago I opened a new free business checking account at WaMu. With the bank account came information about the site StartupNation, a great online information resource for entrepreneurs and small business owners. At the time I went online and subscribed to their weekly newsletter. The site contains articles, blog entries, podcast links, the weekly newsletter, and other valuable resources for any business owner. Recently the site added a StartupNation Community Forum (like I need to add one more forum to my list of current addictions) for its members to exchange information, business frustrations, success stories and more.

On the forum, Rich Sloan, co-founder of StartupNation, recently posed the business-related question "If you could start over again, what would you do?" It caused me to take a quick look back at my own career. My response to question was:

I would still be a graphic designer, but I would have followed my passion within the field much sooner.

Beginning to work independently was not originally part of the plan when I got out of school in 1980. The week I moved to Portland several ad agencies and design firms literally shut their doors in horrible economic times. Other designers were getting laid off all over town. Taking on contract projects was the only way to go at the time. By about 1995, I was getting burned out. For over 17 years (two while still in college) I had been taking on any and all design projects that were coming my way. I thought that was what a designer was expected to do. In discussing my situation with my sister - who owned an advertising and PR firm - she asked one question: "Why aren't you doing what you really enjoy the most?" I looked at her with a big "question mark" on my face and she said "logo design."

It was a "hit myself in the forehead, should've had a V-8" moment. She was right - I should have been doing what I enjoyed the most. I should have given myself permission to turn down the projects that were of the least interest to me. I should have followed my "gut instinct" and altered the focus of my business to what I had considered nearly a decade earlier when I had first considered a possible business name for my design efforts.

Since adopting the business name Jeff Fisher LogoMotives, and changing the focus of my business to identity design, my work efforts have been fun, exciting and challenging. I'm now considered an expert in my field on designing logos. If I had to do it all over again, I would listen a bit more to those little voices in my head that were attempting to help me chart a path for my career by telling me to follow my passions.

The question has lingered with me for the past few days. I'd like to pose it (and a couple others) to those in the design profession. "If you could start over again, what would you do? Are you following your passion? What great lessons have you learned along your career path? I'm curious what you think. Please feel free to add your personal comments to this post.

Oh, and if you need a great resource for business advice - and interaction with other business owners - check out StartupNation. One little warning to those in the design field - just like most initial small-business owner interactions (in the "real" and cyber worlds) you need to be prepared to provide continuing education, in regards to the value of professional design as an effective business tool, to those just beginning their entrepreneurial adventures at StartupNation.

I do appreciate Joel Welsh, the Chief Community Officer of StartupNation, mentioning me today in his blog Hitting on the Game of Entrepreneurship

© 2006 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives