Signing on the dotted line...

I often get email requests regarding my graphic design contract. First of all, I refer to mine as a "project agreement" - the term sounds a bit friendlier than "contract," but still shows that I mean business. I have found that my agreement has become a great "pre-qualifier" of clients. When sending out one of my promotional packets to potential clients I always include a copy of the document. Just including the agreement will show potential clients there is a seriousness to the possible business relationship.

My project agreement is created in a way that I can adapt it to the the specific requirements of a particular project. The basic document is below. Until recently it was posted on a graphic design forum site. With an overhaul of the content, the project agreement is no longer available on that site. I'm posting it here as a resource for other designers to "use and abuse."


Client contact name:

Business name:


City/State/Country/Postal Code:



(Insert your itemized description of the project here)


__ Labor fees (design, art direction, production, copywriting, client services, etc.) are estimated at a total of $_________ or ____ see attached estimate sheet for specifications.

__ Consultation fees are estimated at a total of $ __________ or ____ see attached estimate sheet for specifications.

__ Materials costs (RC/film/neg output, scanning, project specific materials, etc.) are estimated at a total of $__________ or ___ see attached estimate sheet for specifications.

Total estimated cost of project: $____________

Project estimates are valid for 90 days from the date of estimate. Project may be reestimated 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. Printing fees will be estimated separately and payment arrangements made between client and printer.


__ A deposit in an amount equal to 35% of the total estimated cost is requested prior to execution of the project ($__________).

__ Payment in full or the remaining balance is to be paid upon delivery of the completed project. A cash discount of 5% of the total project labor and consultation cost is offered to clients paying upon delivery of the finished project.

__ Payment in full or the remaining balance is to be paid 15 days from receipt of the final invoice for the completed project. Finance charge of 1.5% per month (18% annually) on all overdue balances.

__ Additional payment arrangements:


__ The client assumes full reproduction rights upon payment for completed project.

__ One time reproduction rights for the specified project, at the agreed fee, are granted to the client. Any other usage must be negotiated.

__ All reproduction rights on the copyrighted work are retained by the designer. The work may not be reproduced in any form without consent from the designer.

__ The designer retains personal rights to use the completed project and any preliminary designs for the purpose of design competitions, future publications on design, educational purposes and the marketing of the designer's business. Where applicable the client will be given any necessary credit for usage of the project elements.


The client shall not unreasonably withhold acceptance of, or payment for, the project. If, prior to completion of the project, the client observes any nonconformance with the design plan, the designer must be promptly notified, allowing for necessary corrections. Rejection of the completed project or cancellation during its execution will result in forfeiture of deposit and the possible billing for all additional labor or expenses to date. All elements of the project must then be returned to the designer. Any usage by the client of those design elements will result in appropriate legal action. Client shall bear all costs, expenses, and reasonable attorney's fees in any action brought to recover payment under this contract or in which (Insert your company name) may become a party by reason of this contract.


The estimated completion date the project is ______________. Any shipping or insurance costs will be assumed by the client. Any alteration or deviation from the above specifications involving extra costs will be executed only upon approval with the client. Any delay in the completion of the project due to actions or negligence of client, unusual transportation delays, unforeseen illness, or external forces beyond the control of the designer, shall entitle the designer to extend the completion/delivery date, upon notifying the client, by the time equivalent to the period of such delay.


The above prices, specifications and conditions are hereby accepted. The designer is authorized to execute the project as outlined in this agreement. Payment will be made as proposed above.

Client's signature:

Designer's signature:



Remember, the above is simply a guide to follow. Your own design business may have other specific issues to include in a final contract document. My agreement is kept to one page for the sake of simplicity. I would also suggest having an attorney take a look at your completed agreement prior to putting it in use.

Some additional valuable resources for project agreement/contract information include the Creative Latitude "Resources", CreativeBusiness, CreativePublic and the AIGA Design Business and Ethics web page.

Books providing excellent business advice include Business and Legal Forms for Graphic Designers, by Tad Crawford and Eva Doman Bruck (with a CD of business form templates); 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; and Cameron Foote's books The Business Side of Creativity and The Creative Business Guide to Running a Graphic Design Business. Of course, The Savvy Designer's Guide to Success is a very good resource as well.

© 2006 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Marriage Matters.

They're committed. So are we.

We the undersigned will not stop until every American family is treated fairly, with dignity and equality under the law.

Rocky Anderson, Mayor • City of Salt Lake City, UT • Dr. Randall Bailey, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Hebrew Bible • Interdenominational Theological Center • Julian BondRev. John Boonstra, Executive Minister • Washington Association of Churches • Kate Brown, Majority Leader • Oregon State Senate • Christopher Cabaldon, Mayor • City of West Sacramento, CA • Christine Chavez • Granddaughter of Cesar Chavez • Former Political Director, United Farm Workers • Elizabeth Clark, Executive Director • National Association of Social Workers • Rev. Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Avalon Foundation • Professor in the Humanities • University of Pennsylvania • Melissa Etheridge and Tammy Lynn MichaelsRev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr., Senior Minister • The Riverside Church in the City of New York • Joe Fox, Capital District Area Labor Federation • AFL-CIO • Joe Fox, Vice President • NY State SEIU • Kim Gandy, President • National Organization for Women • Tim Gill, President • Gill Foundation • Mary Kay Henry, International Executive Vice President • SIEU • James C. Hormel • Former US Ambassador • Dolores Huerta • Co-Founder, United Farm Workers • President, Dolores Huerta Foundation for Community Organizing • Alice Huffman, President • California State Conference of NAACP • Norman LearKaren K. Narasaki, Executive Director • Asian American Justice Center • Ralph G. Neas, President and CEO • People For the American Way • Gavin Newsom, Mayor • City of San Francisco • Greg Nickels, Mayor • City of Seattle, WA • Tom Potter, Mayor • City of Portland, OR • Bruce Raynor, President • UNITED HERE! • Jesse Rios, Vice President • Labor Council for Latin American Advancement • Denis Rivera, President • 1199/SEIU Healthcare Workers East • Dr. Jack Rogers, Moderator • 213th General Assembly of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) • Anthony Romero, President • ACLU • Rev. Joan Salmon Campbell • Former Head Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) • Founder, The Spiritual Spa and Holistic Healing Center • Bishop John Selders, Organizing Pastor • Amistad United Church of Christ • Chris Shelton, Vice President • Communications Workers of America District 1 • Ron Sims, Executive • Martin Luther King Jr. County, Washington • Rev. William Sinkford, President • Unitarian Universalist Association • Phyllis Snyder, President • National Council of Jewish Women • The Rev. John H. Thomas, General Minister and President • United Church of Christ • Urvashi Vaid and Kate ClintonAntonio R. Villaraigosa, Mayor • City of Los Angeles • Randi Weingarten • President, United Federation of Teachers • Vice President, American Federation of Teachers • Nancy Wohlforth, International Secretary-Treasurer • Office and Professional Employees International Labor Union (OPEIU) • Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, President • Union for Reformed Judaism

"For better or for worse." This week, that statement has special resonance. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation was instrumental in gaining visibility for a groundbreaking advertisement (above) that appeared in 50 newspapers across the country including the New York Times. The "Marriage Matters" ad was signed by more than 60 civil, religious, LGBT and human rights leaders who support marriage equality, and it featured same-sex couples who have been together for as long as 53 years.

On March 7, 2004 my partner Ed Cunningham and I were married in front an incredible gathering of friends and family. Our marriage was later struck down by the courts. However, in our minds, and the eyes of many more than just those attending our ceremony and reception, our marriage ceremony (and relationship of 16.5 years) was (and is) no less valid or important than that of any other couple in this country. We thank those who continue to show support to us personally, and to many other gay and lesbian couples throughout the United States. We are committed to continue to work for equal - not "special" - rights and protections for all people in this country.

For more information about the continuing issue of marriage for same-sex couples visit the web site of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

Re-Design: North Portland Business Association

The re-design of identities has been a common bLog-oMotives topic. Last fall I made my thoughts known on the new Quark image - or at least the old, new Quark identity (it has since been re-designed again). Earlier this year Fortune Magazine published my thoughts on several new major corporate identities. I've also posted entries about my new interpretations of the logos for the publication Just Out and Seattle's Laugh Lover's Ball, in addition to the recent facelift for the AIDS residential care facility Our House of Portland.

Re-designing a business or organization identity can be a challenging process. In addition to attempting to produce a strong new graphic symbol for the entity, it is necessary to take the possible emotional attachment to a prior image into consideration. Adding the design-by-committee aspect of working with a nonprofit organization, or large corporation, to the mix can make such a job much more complicated. My local neighborhood business association was a dream client when it came to considering a new logo. There was little vested interest in the previous identity and the decision makers of the group were quick, clear and concise in selecting a design to represent their efforts.

The original identity for the North Portland Business Association (above) was a simple and amateur graphic representation of the acronym NPBA. It was usually only evident in the flag of the organization’s monthly newsletter.

The new logo, which reproduces well in one or two colors, projects images symbolic of the North Portland business neighborhood – simplified illustrations of the St. Johns Bridge, the Fremont Bridge and the blue herons that are native to the area. By not conveying images specific to certain industries or businesses of the region, the logo successfully represents all business entities in North Portland. The identity is used on decals for member business, signage for events, the newsletter and membership marketing materials and gives the organization a polished, professional image in the community.

The new North Portland Business Association identity appeared in the recently released Spanish book Logos; From North to South America.

You will find additional examples of identity, web and print redesigns on the Creative Latitude site, in a section called GRAPHIC makeovers. Designer Alina Hagen contributes her observations to the submitted design projects. Quite a few of my own redesign efforts are posted at "GRAPHIC makeovers." Creative Latitude is always looking for other before and after design examples to display on the web site - do consider submitting some of your own efforts.

© 2006 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

A beautiful, simple and powerful

social message appears in New York City.

A few days ago I received an email, with the subject line "Ali Forney Foundation," from my friend Mark who lives and works in New York City. A couple graphics were attached to the email and he explained that he'd started seeing the images in the subways on his way to work.

The beautiful, simple and powerful posters from the Ali Forney Center, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth homeless services center, were part of the launch of a print and outdoor advertising campaign to ask a simple question: "Would you stop loving your child if you found out they were gay or lesbian?"

Telephone kiosk ads began appearing in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx on June 16, followed by print ads in publications such as the Caribbean Times, Hoy, Manhattan Times, Afro Times and New American Times. In addition, over 1000 subway ads began appearing on June 26, the day of the annual LGBT Pride celebration and parade in New York City. The campaign was created to send a strong message to parents of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth during Gay Pride Week in New York City.

In commenting on the campaign, Carl Siciliano, Executive Director of the Ali Forney Center, said, "This ad campaign speaks to a universal human experience, the love between a parent and a child,"

"Our goal is to address the rising rate of LGBT youth homelessness, particularly in communities of color," he continued.

The Ali Forney Center was started in June of 2002 in response to the lack of safe shelter for LGBT youth in New York City. AFC is dedicated to promoting awareness of the plight of homeless LGBT youth in the United States with the goal of generating responses on local and national levels from government funders, foundations, and the LGBT community.

The mission of the organi- zation is to help homeless LGBT youth be safe and become independent as they move from adolescence to adulthood. According to Siciliano, from his commentary Do we reject our LGBT children?, "a recent study indicated that 25% of teens who come out experience rejection by their families. And many of these rejected teens find themselves out on the street, homeless and vulnerable. Surveys of homeless youths in cities across our country consistently show LGBT teens making up 25% to 50% of the entire homeless youth population."

The center is committed to providing homeless LGBT youth with the services they need to thrive, including emergency and transitional housing, medical and psychiatric care, street outreach and drop-in services, and a vocational training program.

The campaign was created by Double Platinum, a full-service marketing communications agency that specializes in messaging related to the GLBT community and for the gay and lesbian market.

© 2006 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

I see old projects...

Over the years I've sent many projects off to publishers following design submissions requests and have heard absolutely nothing afterwards. Usually that means my work was not selected for inclusion in the book being produced. On several occasions I have later been surprised to be flipping through a book in a store and come across examples of my design work - sometimes in books for which I never submitted work at all and no permission to publish was granted.

The other day I was at my favorite bookstore, Powell's City of Books, checking out the selections on the design section shelves. I came across several volumes from the Japanese publisher PIE Books, including the 2003 release Environment/Welfare-related Graphics. The book is a collection of noteworthy local and international corporate advertising and organization promotional campaigns based on environmental and social themes. I remembered being asked to submit design pieces for the book, but had never heard from the editor if anything had been accepted.

Having not previously seen the book, I pulled it from the shelf and casually skimmed through the pages - and there was a page of my work for Oregon Depart- ment of Environmental Quality from 1999.

The multi-piece DEQ project was for the state agency's Vehicle Inspection Program. Working in association my friend Marcia Danab, a DEQ staffer I always referred to as "The Particulate Princess," I designed an identity for the program, the multi-page booklet "A Driver's Guide to Clean Air" (in both English and Spanish), the tabloid publication "Clean Air Tips" given to those visiting the inspection stations, the Clean Air icon, a tabloid-sized insert for kids called "The D.E.Quizette" and other printed materials for the program. The "Quizette" was two pages of games and quizzes, featuring clean air topics, for parents to play with their kids while waiting for the completion of vehicle inspections. I also executed all the illustrations used in the pieces.

It was great to see the project get some international recognition in the book. However, it would have been nice to have been given a timely "heads up" of its inclusion so both the client and I could have promoted the hell out of the fact when the book was released over three years ago.

A wide variety of my work is in over 80 graphic design books to date. Being published in books from China, Korea, Japan, Spain, Singapore, and the U.S. has become a great marketing and promotion tool for design efforts.

© 2006 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Cracked Pots and Twilight in the Garden

I'm currently sitting out at the table in my garden working from my PowerBook. In looking over my calendar I see that two of my favorite garden-related events are coming up this next week. Put them on your schedule as part of your recovery program following the expected heat wave here in Portland this weekend.

Cracked Pots presents their 7th Annual Garden Art Show July 25 & 26 (next Tuesday and Wednesday) at McMenamins Edgefield in Troutdale. From 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. over 60 local artists will be displaying and selling their garden art made from recycled materials. The Edgefield gardeners will also be having a plant sale each day from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Grab a brewski (my favorite on a hot summer day is always the Ruby) or summer cocktail from one of the numerous bars at Edgefield before taking an extended tour of the gardens and what the artists have to offer. My garden is home to several pieces purchased over the years at the event.

The internationally recognized Joy Creek Nursery hosts their annual "Twilight in the Garden" event on Saturday, July 29th from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The event gives visitors a chance to tour the beautiful 4+ acres of show gardens in the cool of the evening while enjoying light refreshments, live music by local high school jazz musicians and garden plantings highlighted by the light of dusk. It's also a great opportunity to check out the work of local artists. My garden features birdbaths, pots of all sizes and trellises from the selection at the Scappoose nursery.

Joy Creek is responsible for the design and installation of the gardens in both my front and back yards. The nursery is also a client of mine and I have designed the Joy Creek logo and many other marketing materials over the past 13 years. My partner and I have been long-time friends of owners Mike Smith and Maurice Horn. In fact, as we occasionally stay out at the home on the grounds of the nursery, we refer to the place as "our country house." "Twilight in the Garden" is a chance for others to have the evening nursery experience we've come to take for granted over the years.

Flower photo courtesy of Joy Creek Nursery

© 2006 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Words of wisdom from Seth Godin

about how clients should interact with designers

From Seth Godin's Blog come words of wisdom for any client dealing with a "creative type:"

How to live happily with a great designer

- J.

Our House of Portland opens new facility

with unveiling of fresh graphic identity

In my previous bLog-oMotives entry, Designing pro bono efforts for "win-win" results, I mentioned a client relationship with an AIDS residential care facility that began with donated design services. That client was Our House of Portland. Kimberly Webster (now Waters), a previous client of mine, had become Development Director for the nonprofit organization in 1994. In doing a graphics inventory for the group, Webster found there were no existing digital files for the Our House logo being used at the time. She asked if I could clean up the logo and create the digital imagery (above). Her request was the beginning of a long-term relationship with Our House.

Over the next few years I designed a great deal for the facility. My efforts included the design of many logos for Our House fundraising events and internal programs, T-shirt graphics, stationery packages, print ads, invitations, direct mail pieces, banners, annual reports, the organization newsletter and many more development and marketing materials (below).

Webster moved on to other career opportunities in Seattle. My working relationship with Our House continued. In the late 90's a redesign of the organization's identity was proposed. I invested a great deal of time in creating and presenting possible new logos based on feedback from staff, volunteers and others. As is often the case in logo redesign projects - especially with nonprofit organizations - one of the greatest challenges was to get beyond the emotional attachment to the old logo design and the question of why it was necessary at all to change things from "they way they have always been." The frustration of organization personnel and myself (especially as it was being done pro bono) resulted in the new logo project never being completed. It was also time for me to re-evaluate my five-year relationship with the organization, and I decided to move on to possible relationships with other nonprofits - primarily in my own new neighborhood of North Portland.

In late May of this year, out of the blue, I received an email from John Oules, an individual I had known for quite a few years in his roles of actor, director and producer of local performing arts events. Oules informed me he was the new Marketing Director of Our House of Portland. His email was a request for any information I might have on the history of the Our House logo. A new identity had been instituted recently (above), incorporating a complicated, multi-colored graphic of a circle of people, and those required to use the image were running into many reproduction difficulties. Oules was interested in the possibility of revisiting and updating the original logo for the organization. Our House was nearing completion of a new building, on the location of the previous facility, and he felt it might be an appropriate time to put a new identity in place.

In my initial meeting with Oules, and new Development Director Sally Dadmun Bixby, their hopes for the new identity were conveyed. The identity needed to hint at the old logo, while being more contemporary and cleaner. No longer the grassroots organization founded in 1988, Our House needed to project a more polished and professional image. The font "City of" (based on the type used by the Union Pacific Railroad and created by RailFonts) had already been selected for use on the new building's signage and the lobby donor board. I was asked to consider using the font for the new identity to give the image the contemporary look of the new structure, interiors and other elements of the project. A new Our House tagline, "Inspiring People with HIV/AIDS to Live Well," was another element I was to possibily include in the new logo. I was provided the color palette of the the interior design firm and painting contractor as an additional reference.

I visited the nearly complete construction site to photograph the facade and roofline of the new building. With an immediate visual image of the icon in my head, I returned to my home studio and created three variations of logo concepts. Two were stacked versions of the required elements and one was a horizontal treatment - and the logo was basically designed. The almost immediate response from Oules was "Awesome job. We love the logo!" From Dadmun Bixby came "I am thrilled at how you took what we envisioned and turned it into the logo!"

Staff, volunteers and others were a bit more hesitant in accepting the new image - as I had predicted earlier in the process. That emotional attachment to the original logo was strong and some were concerned about losing the "warm and fuzzy" feeling associated with the original design. One staff member relayed to me that when she initially saw the design in black and white she felt it was a little "cold." As soon as she was shown the logo in chocolate brown and the green of the exterior paint she really liked the image.

It was decided that using the logo in one of the more vertical formats, and also making use of the horizontal version, (above) might best serve the needs of the organization. With days to go before the grand opening of the new home of Our House, embroidered shirts for the staff and volunteers, fridge magnets, banners and some additional signage were ordered.

Yesterday, under sunny skies, the new building was opened to the public for viewing. It's a beautiful and functional space for the facilities' residents, visitors and the administration staff. The new logo was introduced to the public with a banner in front of the building (flanked by balloons provided by friend/long-time client Ron Pitt of Balloons on Broadway). Hundreds of people toured the new building, guided by staff wearing their color-coordinated shirts embroidered with the logo. I received many compliments on the new identity. The best came from Development Director Dadmun Bixby, when she said "You nailed it!"

Now, the process of a complete branding will begin.

© 2006 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Designing pro bono projects for "win-win" results

It can happen to almost any "creative type" on a daily or weekly basis. When you least expect it you are asked to produce a project for a nonprofit client - for free! Your response to the request may depend on a variety of issues. Often you will react emotionally with an immediate "out of the goodness of your heart" positive answer. However, when it comes right down to the nitty-gritty, the decision may be based on the age-old question: "What's in it for me?" Rather than being posed as a selfish self-query, the question is a matter of determining if one has the time (and energy) to take on such efforts - and a review of how pro bono projects can benefit both parties.

Given that you have the time and desire to assist a nonprofit in their marketing and promotion efforts, you need to establish the personal value and rewards of doing such work. I have determined that to do my best work for such a group I require a passion for their cause. With the large number of requests I received for pro bono work I also realized I needed to create some personal guidelines in regards to donated time. I now only consider donating my services if the project is related to education, smaller nonprofit performing arts groups, children's causes, or specific issues in which I have a strong personal interest. For example, I have designed graphics for AIDS organizations and events since 1985. I will also only take on a limited number of pro bono projects in any one calendar year.

Unfortunately, our friends at the Internal Revenue Service don't see a great deal of value in the gifting of time, talent or services. The Internal Revenue Service states: "Contributions you cannot deduct at all include the value of your time or services. Although you cannot deduct the value of your time or services, you can deduct the expenses you incur while donating your services to a qualified organization.

Even so, there are tremendous profits and benefits (above and beyond those warm, fuzzy feelings) in donating your services to nonprofit organizations.

Taking (or getting) credit for your efforts
Doing creative work for a local nonprofit organization can be a great way to promote your talents and abilities. For the student or newbie designer, doing pro bono work may be a great way to beef up a portfolio with some "real world" design work. I actually look at such projects as part of the marketing plan for my business.

When a nonprofit asks you to donate services, don't be shy about asking for credit in return for your efforts. This may simply be a credit line on a photograph or graphic; or a byline on an article you have written. It may be in the form of an acknowledgement in the program for an event or a mention in the group's newsletter. You may want to receive a verbal "thank you" from the organization at one of their public gatherings or dinners.

If the nonprofit has a membership directory, newsletter or event program, an appropriate expression of their appreciation might be a print ad in the publication. A link from the client's web page to your own can be a very profitable gesture. If the organization is of personal interest a complimentary membership, or admission to an event, is often a welcome gift.

Completing a donated project for a nonprofit organization is the perfect opportunity to "toot my own horn" and send out one of my "Toot! Toot!" press releases. Many local publications, or those related to the purpose of the nonprofit industry involved, will be pleased to print the information. The resulting publicity is positive exposure for your business and the organization.

The donation of my services has also led to greater creative freedom in many cases. The individuals involved in the projects are often very willing to admit the creative aspects of such an effort are not within their area of expertise. They are pleased to give creative individuals free rein to produce the best result - and often the work I consider my personal best. Over one third of the international, national and regional design awards I have received have been for the projects of nonprofit groups. Many of these projects have been published in design annuals or graphic design books. Each award has given me even more reason to promote myself through press releases.

Making friends and meeting influential people
One of the major benefits of doing pro bono work is the people with whom you come in contact during the course of the projects. Many of these people may become strong advocates and allies for your business efforts.

The staff of a nonprofit organization is the best source of word-of-mouth promotion following a successful project. Over the years I have developed long-term business relationships with individuals who have moved from one nonprofit to another throughout the course of their career. With each move comes the potential for a renewed client relationship.

Most groups will have a Board of Directors, made up of civic-minded business people, who may also have a need for your services. These same Board members also travel in a variety of business and social circles. I have been hired for projects because my name came up in a conversation an individual had with a Board member of a client organization - in some situation totally unrelated to my client. On several occasions I have been contacted directly by Board members to produce projects for their own business ventures.

Having participated in the design of materials for fundraising activities my work will get a great deal of exposure to those attending the event du jour. Numerous clients have commissioned me to design projects for their business after attending fundraising events and seeing examples of my work.

The prospect of future work from the client
Often the donating of services to a nonprofit client will lead to paid work at a later date. When contributing my services to any group I always make them aware of the fact they will qualify for a 20% discount off the estimated cost of any future contracted projects. One year I donated my services to design the logo for the summer school program of a local elementary school. Later the PTA of the school hired me to create the image for the school itself. For over 16 years I have executed pro bono work for a local nonprofit theater company. One year the group received a grant to cover the costs of my work in producing their marketing materials. A local AIDS residential care facility was the beneficiary of my design skills for several years during the 1990's. They then took it upon themselves to get funding for a monthly stipend to cover my services. Each year the stipend was reviewed, and increased, as the financial situation of the organization improved. Just today I completed the design of their redesigned identity for a new facility opening this next week.

Is a simple "thank you" too much to ask?
Having executed pro bono work for over 30 years I have learned that you must often make the recipient aware of the value of your work. I have repeatedly run into situations when nonprofit clients have no appreciation for donated services. Getting something for "free" occasionally translates into a perception that your work has no value.

First of all, I suggest having the client sign a contract or project agreement to outline all aspects of the project. Even if they are not paying for your services the project should be treated as a "real" job to avoid potential misunderstandings or miscommunication. I also have created a "project value sheet" to present to pro bono clients upon completion of their project. Basically it is an invoice-like form, showing the value of the time spent on the project at my billable rates for each task involved. Of course, there is no balance due. However, conveying this information to the clients has resulted in a greater appreciation of my work.

Still, I am stunned by the number of nonprofits who approach a creative individual with a request for donated services and don't make the slightest effort to express appreciation when the project is complete. All I expect is a simple "thank you," whether it is a handwritten note, in person, via a phone call or by email. The fact my work is appreciated will go a long way toward establishing a long-term client relationship and the possibility of additional pro bono efforts in the future. I've been surprised at the number of nonprofits who, after no sign of appreciation at all for previous donated work, will ask me to donate my services again. Not only will I not work with them again; I let them know precisely the reason I've made the decision.

A win-win situation
Conducted with professionalism and respect the relationship between a writer, photographer, graphic designer or other creative, and a nonprofit needing the services of such an individual, can result in a beneficial situation for both parties. The organization can obtain quality creative work not otherwise affordable, and establish a positive relationship with a talented individual. The "creative type" can feel good about assisting the nonprofit group in the marketing or promotion efforts, create a new audience for their work and promote their own business in the process.

This article appeared in its original form on in April 2001 and in part in my book, "The Savvy Designer's Guide to Success"

© 2006 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Logo design by the book (and the Internet)

I find myself often being asked by other designers, on design forums and by email, to suggest books on the topic of logo design. The following is a list of volumes that I have found to be good resources. Rather than being books of nothing but logo design examples, the following books are much more about the process of designing logos and what makes a logo successful:

Blue is Hot; Red is Cool: Choosing the right color for your logo, by David Carter

Bullet-Proof Logos: creating great designs which avoid legal problems, by David E. Carter

Design-It-Yourself Logos, Letterheads, & Business Cards, by Chuck Green
(The book is now also part of the newer volume Design-It-Yourself: Graphic Workshop)

Designing Brands: Market success through graphic distinction, by Emily Schrubbe-Potts

Designing Corporate Identity: Graphic design as a business strategy, by Pat Matson Knapp

Global Graphics: Symbols - Designing with symbols for an International Markets, by Anistatia Miller, Jared Brown & Cheryl Dangel Cullen

How to Design Logos, Symbols & Icons: 23 Internationally Renowned Studios Reveal How They Develop Trademarks for Print and New Media, by Gregory Thomas

How to Design Trademarks & Logos, by John Murphy & Michael Rowe
(This 1988 book is out-of-print, but if you can find a used copy it's a great addition to a design library - especially for the designer just getting into logo design)

Logo Design Workbook: A Hands-On Guide to Creating Logos, by AdamsMorioka with Terry Stone

Logos: Making a Strong Mark : 150 Strategies for Logos That Last, by Anistasia Miller & Jared Brown

Logo Design That Works: Secrets for Successful Logo Design, by Lisa Silver

The Little Book of Logo Recipes: Successful Designs and How to Create Them, by David E. Carter

Identity Solutions, by Cheryl Cullen & Amy Schell

What Logos Do and How They Do It, by Anistasia R. Miller & Jared M. Brown

Logos Redesigned: How 200 Companies Successfully Changed Their Image, by David E. Carter

Redesigning Identity, by Catharine Fishel

Logo Lab, by Christopher Simmons

As I come across new books that may be helpful I will update this list.

Some good online references about identity design include:

Before and After Magazine - check out "How to design a logo of letters"

A Website About Corporate Identity

Identity Works

Logo Notions on

Corporate Identity Documentation Step-by-step Logo

logolog: Clever Logos

Great Logos and Why

© 2006 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Jeffism #4

"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.”

- Jeff Fisher

Calls for entries:

Upcoming design competition deadlines

All of the following competitions deadlines present great opportunities to showcase your design efforts, market your work on an international scale through the published books, and "toot!" your own horn to clients, peers and the media:

The Create Awards (Create Magazine)
Deadline: General - July 8, 2006 (with late fees)
Students - July 8, 2006

Entry fees charged

Letterheads Sets (David E. Carter)
Deadline: July 14, 2006
No entry fees

Business Graphics (Rockport Publishers)
Deadline Extended: July 14, 2006
No entry fees

HOW Interactive Design Awards (HOW Magazine)
Deadline: July 17, 2006
Entry fees charged

Summit Marketing Effectiveness Awards (Summit Awards)
Deadline: July 31, 2006
Entry fees charged

1,000 Restaurant, Bar, and Café Graphics (Rockport Publishers)
Deadline: August 1, 2006
No entry fees

Creativity 36 (David E. Carter)
Deadline: September 1, 2006
Entry fees charged

HOW International Design Awards (HOW Magazine)
Deadline: September 1, 2006
Entry fees charged

CMYK Call For Aspiring Creatives #36 (CMYK MAgazine)
Deadline: September 15, 2006
Entry fees charged

Step inside design 100 (Step inside design Magazine)
Deadline: October 2, 2006
Entry fees charged

LOGO 2007 (David E. Carter)
Deadline: October 31, 2006
Entry fees charged

You may want to read my article about participating in design industry competitions: A Winning Strategy. It has appeared on the Creative Latitude and No!Spec web sites.

Good luck!