Stone Soup: Exhibit draws on personal experience

The other day I got an announcement from Jan Eliot by way of our mutual friend Mary Simon. The talented cartoonist behind the successful comic Stone Soup sent out the email to make others aware that an exhibit of her original cell drawings will be on display March 30-April 29, 2007 at the Opus6ix gallery at 22 West 7th Ave. in Eugene, OR. There will be a gallery reception for the artist at 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 6. An additional opportunity to meet Eliot, and get copies of her books signed, will be on April 28.

I can't even remember how many years ago I was introduced to the cartoonist by Mary, but it was back in the days of her original strip Patience and Sarah. I've been a fan of Eliot and her work ever since.

These days, with the popularity of Stone Soup, she has lots of fans. Stone Soup is now a syndicated cartoon strip that's distributed internationally by Universal Press Syndicate to over 140 newspapers in 6 countries, and read by over 8 million readers every day. The distributor's web site offers this history of the journey to cartoon success:

Jan Eliot began cartooning as a form of self-defense when she was a single mom trying to raise two daughters, stay fully employed, pay the bills and still have a little fun once in a while. She discovered that cartooning gave her the opportunity to laugh at adversity, vent her frustrations and find humor in being short of money, short of time and short of patience. Not coincidentally, her original comic strip was called 'Patience and Sarah' and featured a single mom (Patience) and her daughter. It ran for five years in 10 weekly and monthly papers.

While working as a copywriter and graphic designer, Jan continued cartooning and developed a second strip called 'Sister City,' which ran weekly in the Eugene Register-Guard for five years. Her cartoons have been reprinted in many humor collections, magazines, computer manuals and parenting books. Jan has also published greeting cards with Maineline Press, Umbrella Press and Marcel Schurman.

In 1995, under the new name of 'Stone Soup,' Jan's comic strip was nationally syndicated. Jan promptly quit her job to become a full-time cartoonist and with the quick success of 'Stone Soup,' she has had no regrets. Closely based on her own life and the lives of her unsuspecting friends, 'Stone Soup' focuses on human relationships and the modern family. As one newspaper described it, the strip 'pursues the humor in life, parenting and even the friends we can't choose - relatives.'"

Stone Soup has become an industry. A new book, Desperate Households, will be released in the near future. Five other book collections are available: Stone Soup, You Can't Say Boobs On Sunday, Stone Soup the Comic Strip, Road Kill In The Closet, and Not So Picture Perfect. Readers can get their daily fix of the strip - and order prints - online. There's even a Cafe Press site of products.

With all the success of Stone Soup over the years, one thing has remained constant - Jan Eliot is still one of the nicest people I've ever met.

Photo: Sol Neelman

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Cowboy Jeffie's Kickin' Caesar Salad Dressing

(Yep, that's me - Cowboy Jeffie - in the photo)

Last night I had a big garlicky chicken Caesar salad, and a nice glass of Routas Wild Boar White, for dinner. It reminded my that, after numerous requests from friends to make my Caesar dressing, I needed to take the time to measure all ingredients for the first time, record my findings and share the recipe. Many people don't want to use a traditional Caesar dressing recipe - with the raw egg - for personal taste or health reasons. My creation is a great substitute with a big kick of flavor.

Cowboy Jeffie's Kickin' Caesar Salad Dressing

1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
Juice of one lemon
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
4 medium-sized cloves of fresh garlic (crushed - about 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon anchovy paste (or 2-3 anchovies in oil)
3 tablespoons fresh grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (or more to taste)
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (to taste)

Put all ingredients into a mini food processor or blender and pulse/blend until smooth. Use as much on salad as desired to personal taste. Remainder of dressing may be kept in the refrigerator, in an airtight container (or everything in your fridge will smell/taste like garlic), for up to a week.

You might also want to check out my recipes for Cowboy Jeffie's Picnic Pardner Potato Salad, Cowboy Jeffie's Confetti Chicken Chili and Cowboy Jeffie's Butternut Squash Soup with a Kick. Enjoy!

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Do you buy Chateau Mouton Rothschild for the label?

As a graphic designer I will often give a bottle of wine a try simply because I like the art of the label - and I occasionally find a great wine in a pretty bottle. The wines of Chateau Mouton Rothschild take both the buying of wine and the art on the label to an entirely different level.

Recently the CBS Sunday Morning program had a wonderful piece on the Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, the Sotheby's sale of wines from her private cellar (where a Jeroboam - an oversized bottle - of 1945 Mouton sold for $260,000!), and the incredible collection of art that has graced the labels of the wine each year since 1945. A show of the paintings on which the labels are based, which has traveled the world for 25 years, was a part of the Sotheby's event, complete with a ceremony to unveil the Prince Charles watercolor label that will decorate the 2004 vintage. More about the television show segment can be read at Wine And Art Meet At Mouton Estate.

Baroness de Rothschild explained to Sunday Morning host Charles Osgood that her father, Baron Philippe de Rothschild, put the family in the wine business in 1922, and was the first to put fine art on a wine bottle when commissioned the artist Jean Carlu to design a label in 1924. That particular piece of art is considered a landmark work in Cubist commercial art.

In 1945, to celebrate the end of World War II, de Rothschild commissioned the young painter Philippe Jullian to produce a graphic design based on the "V" sign made famous by Winston Churchill during the war. Each year since then the work of an artist has been selected for the Chateau Mouton Rothschild label. Artists such as Joan Miro, Marc Chagall, Picasso, Keith Haring, Salvador Dali, and Andy Warhol have been exhibited on the bottles.

"Andy Warhol didn't just do what he's told. which is normal for Andy," Baroness de Rothschild told Osgood. "This one thing that is told to the painters, they can do whatever they want, but horizontally because of the shape. The shape, exactly. but he didn't paint them that way. Warhol did these beautiful portraits of my father, three of them, but vertical, so we had to lay my father down on the label."

A number of the labels were shown on the Sunday Morning program - but I wanted to see more. An Internet search led me to the site The Artists Labels. Each label created since 1945 is displayed on the website. A brief history of the label project is provided, as are links to additional information of each featured artist. It's a great resource about an ongoing international art exhibit.

Illustration: 1988 label by the late Keith Haring

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Re-Design: Benicia Historical Museum

I seem to be surrounded by identity re-designs right now. This morning I was sitting on the porch of Joy Creek Nursery - a company for which I did an identity re-design quite a few years ago - reading and enjoying the incredible gardens, and contemplating the updating of some of the firm's branding elements. I'm now at home putting the finishing touches on the text for my new book on the topic - Identity Crisis! - which is scheduled to be published in the fall. I'm also working on a reworking of a logo for a client whose identity I have already updated twice from my original design due to name changes, and the logo for another client I've also revamped twice previously. In addition, this past week I was dealing with issues of my logo re-design for the Benicia Historical Museum being incorporated into new signage.

The museum in Benicia, CA is located in the historic Benicia Arsenal structures, where camels were housed after a failed U.S. Military experiment to use them as pack animals in 1850's and 1860's. Initially, the museum seemed to have a split personality with two graphic elements being used for the facility's identity. The simplistic circular logo incorporated a camel and arches representing the buildings. An almost cartoon-ish camel image was used for online identification of the museum. The images were used in one-color; usually black or dark brown.

The museum requested an identity that graphically conveyed a historical perspective for marketing and promotion purposes. A bit more focus on the locally recognized historic structures was desired, while maintaining some reference to the camels of post Civil War times.

The oval shape, with banners, presented a more "antique" look for the identity. The font trio of Horndon, PanAm and Copperplate added to the image. The camel image used was borrowed from an antique etching of the historic facility. Stars incorporated into the design hint at the military history of the site. The colors used reflect the sandstone buildings and the red in the original flag used when Benicia was California's state capitol.

The new identity is serving the museum very well in drawing much more attention to its presence in the local community and surrounding area. It's also bringing recognition to the museum on a national and international level. Last year the logo received an American Corporate Identity 22 award and, as a result, is featured in the book American Corporate Identity 2007. Recently it was announced that the image also received a LOGO 2007 honor and will be in the upcoming book The Big Book of Logos 5. In addition, it will be featured in the volume Branded from United Kingdom publisher Début Publications Ltd.

Previous bLog-oMotives entries featured additional identity re-designs: Our House of PortlandNorth Portland Business AssociationJust OutLaugh Lover's Ball

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Subvertisements: Using Ads and Logos for Protest

The Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG) is exhibiting images from their archives in the politcal graphics show Subvertisements: Using Ads and Logos for Protest at the California State University Northridge Art Galleries in Northridge, CA through April 21. The exhibition, of nearly 90 posters by artists, graphic designers and students, explores how consumerism and branding have shaped a foundation of cultural identity.

In describing the exhibit, Los Angeles CityBeat notes: "Two years in the planning, the show hosts work from the 1960s through just last week. Topics include vegetarianism, the environment, globalization, and human rights. Most of the posters were culled from the CSPG’s extensive collection; others were donations made specifically for this exhibit."

Items displayed in the exhibition are divided into three main categories, with some inevitable overlap: posters that appropriate ad imagery to address separate issues; product boycotts; and event posters with overtly political illustrations.

“Posters still have a real cost-effective and visual function,” says CSPG director Carol Wells. “To convey an idea to someone to get them thinking about a problem … artists can do that better than anyone else.”

The exhibition is funded in part by the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles.

Image: "iRaq," Forkscrew Graphics, Silkscreen, 2004, Los Angeles, CA

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Toot! Toot!*:

Jeff Fisher LogoMotives recognized by

American Corporate Identity 23 awards

The Portland graphic design firm Jeff Fisher LogoMotives has been honored with two awards in the American Corporate Identity 23 design competition. The winning entries will be featured in David E. Carter's book, American Corporate Identity 2008, to be released later this year. Designer Jeff Fisher has received 27 of the ACI honors over the past 10 years.

The logo for the North Portland Pride BBQ and Festival, sponsored by the University Park United Methodist Church, was one of the images honored. The annual summer event, promoting the diversity and inclusivity of both the church congregation and North Portland neighborhood, is represented by a traditional picnic graphic - including ants. The identity for the Emerge Medical Spa at Bridgeport in Tigard OR, with a dragonfly icon centerpiece, was also recognized.

Recently both logos also received LOGO 2007 awards and, as a result, will be featured in the upcoming book The Big Book of Logos 5. In addition, the two designs will be included in the future logo book Branded, from United Kingdom publisher Début Publications Ltd.

Jeff Fisher has received nearly 550 regional, national and international graphic design awards for his logo and corporate identity efforts. His work is featured in more than 85 books on the design of logos, the business of graphic design, and small business marketing.

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. His new volume, Identity Crisis!, will be on bookshelves in late 2007.

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

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Design studio housecleaning - excavated artifact #8

I am continuing to sort through and archive over 30 years of design projects as I organize my home studio. It amazes me how much concept and process documentation I have filed away over the years. I seems a possible book on my 30+ years is evolving as I find more such materials all the time - and I haven't even started converting years of floppy disks to more stable archival vehicles.

Recently I came across the original planning meeting notes for a 1995 AIDS organization fundraising event to be called "Coffee Cares." The sheet of notebook paper listed a variety of possible event names and taglines. As the meeting progressed I scribbled out a possible logo design in ball point pen - based in part on the design of my own previous logo design for the Seattle restaurant Glo's Broiler. By the time the meeting was adjourned the event identity was created in my mind and on my page of notes.

My rough sketch included a roughed out intrepretation of the font Frankfurter Highlight for that retro cafe look, a checkerboard pattern above and below the event name, a space for the yet-to-be-determined tagline and steam coming off the coffee cup in the form of the AIDS ribbon.

Within a day my final logo concept was created, presented and accepted by the event planners. Little changed from the original scribble. I did drop the checkerboard pattern above "Coffee Cares" and the space reserved for the tagline was moved from the left to the right - now filled with the message "Baristas, bakeries & bistros supporting people with AIDS."

The image was very successful in drawing attention to the city-wide event in Portland and the fundraiser added to the coffers of local AIDS organizations. The logo was also featured in the books Restaurant Graphics 2, Typography and Blue is Hot,Red is Cool: Choosing the Right Color for Your Logo.

Note: In previous bLog-oMotives entries I took a look back at excavated artifacts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Reflections on judging a design competition

Last week I was once again a judge for the international Summit Creative Awards. My cohorts in judging the primarily print category entries were Ilan Geva, of the new firm Ilan Geva & Friends, and Simon Coffin of Turner Studios. We spent two full days reviewing, commenting and rating hotel conference rooms full of logos, identity packages, packaging designs, self-promotion, annual reports, brochures, advertising, signage, copywriting, ideas never produced, and other items created by students, designers and creative firms from around the world.

A couple weeks ago I was asked by another designer if I would have the opportunity to travel for the judging. As a matter of fact, I did get to travel - to a hotel about four miles from my North Portland home studio.

Competition results will not be announced until the judging of broadcast, interactive media and emerging media is completed in the next month. Email or letter notification is scheduled to go out to all entrants by April 23 according to competition staff.

While somewhat fresh in my mind, I wanted to post some comments about the competition and my third Summit Creative Awards judging experience:

• Over the course of the Summit Awards history, design work from over 50 countries, on five continents, has been submitted. It is fascinating to see the scope of international work - especially the pieces submitted annually from designers in countries such as Dubai and Kuwait. It sure would be helpful to the judges if all the foreign entries included translations of the project text.

• The new rebranding/logo re-design category was very well received and I enjoyed seeing the many design solutions submitted. Unfortunately, not all submitters thought to include the "before" images for comparison to the final new identity.

• Hundreds of logos were submitted in the various identity categories. (I only had to excuse myself from judging one design I knew a bit too well.) Again, it would have been very helpful to those judging the design if all had included a short description of the type of business being identified - as requested in the call for entries. Taken completely out of context, it was difficult to give some well-designed images the credit probably deserved as a communication vehicle.

• The competition category that disappointed me was direct mail. It would seem that many designers do not understand how to create effective direct mail pieces. Paper folds didn't necessarily work well within the some designs, image/text placements were very awkward in some cases, and the required message often got lost in over-designed or cluttered pieces.

• The previous two years, when judging the Summit Awards, I walked into rooms full of pieces designed using lime green and orange as ink colors. Obviously, those colors were an over-used trend of the years prior to the submission deadlines. This year there was much more variety in the color treatment of materials in all categories. There did seem to be a greater use of earth tones, or subtle colors, that did not "scream" at the target audience.

• Paper textures, special ink treatments, unique bindings, the actual size of some submitted pieces, and even the smell of inks, always give the judges a wide variety of aspects to take into consideration when reviewing a piece of work. While the Internet upload option for competition entries is a valuable convenience for some designers - especially those in other countries who need to take shipping costs into consideration - and works well for logos, ads, and some stationery packages, many pieces lost so much being presented as a flat, color laser print.

• There is hope for the future of the design profession. Some of the student work submitted was incredible. Although the students are not creating projects in a "real world" atmosphere of clients, budgets, unrealistic deadlines and the like, the creativity, execution and presentation - swooshes, bevels, drop shadows and Photoshop effects - was all "there" in many of the university submissions

• Designers do have a lot of fun when it comes to creating their own stationery packages, promotion pieces and holiday promotions. (Again, I did need to excuse myself from judging two pieces in these sections, as there will be showcased in my future book.) Creativity oozed from some of the submitted work created with the designer, or creative firm, as their own client.

• Simple is good! When design work is presented in the competition setting next to hundreds of other pieces, the well-designed, beautifully executed, simple work stands out every time. Designers should consider that fact when sending pieces they are creating for clients - the end result needs to stand out in the sensory-overload world in which we live.

Judging such competitions is a great way to network with other design professionals while participating in a industry event, and possibily be inspired as a designer at the same time. I encourage others to contact industry design competitions in your area to offer your services as a judge or competition staff.

In the interest of full disclosure I should also mention that I participate annually in the Summit Creative Awards as a submitter. Since 1998 I have won 15 Summit Creative Awards, including two golds for identity design. Other designers should consider submitting their work to such competitions. My most recent list of design competitions is posted in an earlier bLog-oMotives entry.

I do want to thank Summit Creative Awards Executive Director Jocelyn Luciano and her excellent staff. The organization puts on a good show and treat the competition judges very well each year. It's a pleasure being associated with the organization.

Photo: Myself, Simon Coffin and Ilan Geva at the Marrakesh Moroccan Restaurant during the judging weekend

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Toot! Toot!*: Jeff Fisher LogoMotives designs to be

in "Branded" book from Début Publications Ltd

The logo design work of Jeff Fisher, the Engineer of Creative Identity for the firm Jeff Fisher LogoMotives, will be represented with 27 identity examples in the upcoming book Branded from United Kingdom publisher Début Publications Ltd. Logo designs of over 130 international graphic designers, design firms and agencies will be included in the book to be published later this year. Fisher has also been asked to contribute text about an aspect of identity design for the book.

Designs from Jeff Fisher LogoMotives to be featured in the book include those for the Benicia Historical Museum (Benicia, CA), Four Rivers Community School (Ontario, OR), Twisted Elegance Interactive (Seattle, WA), and the Young Native Writer's Essay Contest sponsored by the Holland+Knight Charitable Foundation (Tampa, FL). Logos for DataDork (Fontana, CA), the Valles Caldera National Preserve (New Mexico) and the Seacoast AIDS Walk (Portsmouth, NH) were also selected.

Portland clients to be highlighted in the volume include interiors firm NoBox Design, the VanderVeer Center anti-aging clinic, the City of Portland's Neighborhood Service Center program, Bella Terra Landscape Designs, the AIDS residential care facility Our House of Portland, architect Thomas Fallon and Balloons on Broadway. Designs for the Just Out newsmagazine, Black Dog Furniture Design,the greeting card company Good Pig, Bad Pig and TraveLady Media will also be in the book. Logos for the community activist organization Association for Responsible Inner Eastside Neighborhood Development (AFriend), Pearl Real Estate, and the now closed Balaboosta Delicatessen were also recognized.

Identities honored for North Portland businesses, organizations or events include those for the St. Johns Window Project, North Portland Business Association, Coyner’s Auto Body, and University Park United Methodist Church's annual North Portland Pride BBQ and Festival.

Selected designs also include images created for George Fox University's Tilikum Center for Retreats & Outdoor Ministries (Newberg, OR) and the Emerge Medical Spa at Bridgeport (Tigard, OR).

Jeff Fisher has received nearly 550 regional, national and international graphic design awards for his logo and corporate identity efforts. His work is featured in more than 85 books on the design of logos, the business of graphic design, and small business marketing.

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. His new volume, Identity Crisis!, will be on bookshelves in late 2007.

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

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

DiPrima Dolci has got it covered

After being on vacation for over two weeks, my partner and I returned to a huge tub of snail mail. I was sorting through the stack of magazines and catalogs when I came across a pleasant surprise. There was a great photo of our friend Pat DiPrima-LeConche, owner of the North Portland neighborhood hotspot DiPrima Dolci Italian Bakery (1936 N. Killingsworth St.), on the cover of the well-designed Portland State Magazine - referencing the article We Mean Business: Helping new entrepreneurs get started. Ed, a PSU alum, gets the magazine from the university three times a year.

DiPrima Dolci, which I referred to as one of my home studio conference rooms in my first book, was a pioneer in the ongoing business and culinary renaissance of Killingsworth Street. These days it's a community institution and meeting place. (Pat and her husband Robin have become great friends of ours over the past few years. She even made our wedding cake - and they attended the event - when we got married back in 2004.) However, the early days of starting the successful business were not necessarily easy.

"Opening a bakery isn't a piece of cake, let me tell you," Diprima-LeConche is quoted as saying in the article. "The (PSU) Business Outreach Program was so much more helpful than the Small Business Administration."

She adds that she "literally would not have a business today without their help."

The work of the PSU Business Outreach Program (BOP) is the focus of the magazine piece, and DiPrima Dolci is just one of their hundreds of success stories. BOP director Gary Brown and his students helped the trained baker write her business plan, fill out loan applications, and develop her marketing and advertising plans.

For over a decade the BOP has helped more than 400 businesses get a proper start, with 52 percent of those ventures being minority owned and 50 percent being owned by women. In addition, over 1000 students have received real-world business consulting experience while participating in the educational program. Years ago I spoke about graphic design as a business tool to one of the classes.

In the article, BOP director Gary Brown is quoted as saying, "Most small business owners have a dream. What most of them find is that translating that dream into a successful reality is harder than they think it's going to be. That's where this program comes in."

Anyone in the process of starting a new business, or in the planning stages of such a venture, should research similar programs in their local area. Universities and community colleges across the country have programs designed to assist entrepreneurs with startups. When I was in college, back in the late 1970's at the University of Oregon, advertising and marketing classes adopted new and existing business as class projects. The businesses and the students benefited a great deal in the process.

Although Diprima-LeConche's experience with the SBA was less than ideal, I do know many business owners who have been given great advice, and directed to additional valuable resources, through the agency. Small Business Development Centers, Women's Business Centers and the organization SCORE are also possible sources of advice, information and handholding for the novice business owner.

I do want to acknowledge writer Jeff Kuechle, and photographers Steve Dipaola and Randall Lee, for their work on the excellent Portland State Magazine article. And now I think it's time for me to head over to DiPrima Dolci for an espresso drink and cannoli.

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

WaMu - I see frustration and stupid people...

(BEWARE: This is a rant - because I'm in a mood and I can)

Every small business person wants to do business with friendly, convenient and reliable service providers in the course of day-to-day operations. Associating with businesses where "everybody knows your name" is also an advantage.

After years of impersonal service from a major banking institution having some of my accounts, and dealing with a small bank that was not convenient for business purposes, I was thrilled when Washington Mutual opted to open a new branch at the corner of Lombard and Burrage near my home studio. I'd heard nothing but good feedback from others banking at WaMu. As I traveled I found branches near a convention center in San Diego, within walking distance of a resort in Rancho Santa Fe, CA, and a couple blocks from my hotel in San Francisco. The many locations were a selling point. A good friend, who worked for WaMu at the time, even took me in to meet the branch manager at the new location. It seemed a great fit for the banking needs of my little one-person business. I liked the "small town" feel of the branch and the fact I was recognized every time I went in to do my banking. If there was any particular issue, which was rare, I could call, email or visit the manager to get it resolved quickly and personally. As I don't keep what one might call "banking hours," I appreciated having the ATM nearby to do my banking if necessary. In fact, there were times when went to the bank, made a deposit and by the time I got back home the transaction was already noted in online account information.

I guess the honeymoon is over. Has WaMu become yet another oversized, uncaring, impersonal financial institution when it comes to dealing with individual and small business customers?

This past fall I made a couple sizeable deposits (sizeable for my business anyway) of local (Portland) checks via the ATM and thought nothing more about them. As I do most of my bill payments online, I just took it for granted that the deposits had been credited to my account and my bills were being paid electronically as scheduled. Imagine my surprise when going online a couple days later to find that neither deposit had been fully credited to my account. Both had "holds" on them according to the online account summary.

Contacting the less-than-helpful "customer service" department resulted in a response telling me that a two-day hold had been placed on the checks - which was actually a three-day hold in the case of one deposit. No explanation. The representative also apologized "for any inconvenience caused." That was it.

I immediately contacted the always helpful branch manager and let her know about the situation. She very quickly responded with: "Whenever you make a deposit into the ATM there will be a hold on the checks. (Note: Which had never been the case previously) Our ATM's have different hold regulations due to the checks being processed through an outside department and not within the branch. If you need to make a deposit when we're not open, try to use the Night Drop - these deposits are processed each morning when we open and are looked at by branch employees instead of an outside department." She then overrode the "hold," making all funds available, and all was right with the world.

Since that day I have always stood in line in the branch to deal directly with a teller, or used the night deposit box in the lobby, to make deposits. None of this, two (or three) day "hold" nonsense for me as punishment for making use of ATM convenience.

Then in January I returned to from a trip out of town during a snow storm. After a visit to my PO Box I had checks that I knew needed to be desposited. I went to the branch on that snowy day to make a deposit. The branch was closed due to the storm. All ATM deposit envelopes, deposit slips and night deposit envelopes in the lobby were gone - and I was unable to make a deposit in any way due to that situation. The next morning I returned - luckily bringing a deposit envelope/slip from home - because the branch was still closed due to the bad weather and all deposit material supplies in the ATM lobby were still exhausted. As snow doesn't stop Internet scheduled payments to other accounts, a scheduled payment was made and I incurred an overdraft charge due to the fact I was unable to make a deposit. "Customer service" basically blew me off and never addressed the situation. Let me get this straight; the bank can close due to snow, I am unable to make a deposit because the branch in closed and there are no deposit supplies in the secure lobby, and I'm simply out of luck? It's my problem - not WaMu's? Yep, that's a bank providing "customer service" to their valuable clientele.

That brings us to this last week when, as advised by the previous manager, I made an early morning deposit on Friday via the night deposit drop. Supposedly that would mean the deposit would be handled efficiently by a real person and credited to my account that same day. Silly me, I had no reason to check my balance online until yesterday - six days later. The deposit had never been credited to my account and I was incurring overdraft charges left and right.

In the "olden days," of true customer service, a financial institution would have called a customer with a bit of curiosity about the state of the customer's account and the problem would have been dealt with much sooner. Well, obviously that's not how things are done these days.

It turns out that bank did get my deposit in the night deposit box last Friday morning - but the individual processing the deposit couldn't read one of the handwritten account numbers on my deposit slip. With my name on both the check and the deposit slip they couldn't look up my account in any manner? Someone in the small neighborhood branch couldn't ask "Does anyone know this Jeff Fisher guy?" to tellers who have sometimes seen me several times a week and know me by name? I guess it would take too much effort to contact the individual who wrote me the check in question to determine my contact information if all else failed.

A branch employee actually let me know that the first numeral of of my account number looked like a "J" rather than a zero and "We had kept your check and deposit slip hoping you would call us." So, basically they must have been waiting for me to start receiving overdraft notices in the mail (which I have yet to receive) as a sign to me that something was very wrong with my account.

Last night the deposit, which was actually made nearly a week ago, was finally credited to my account. Funny, none of the overdraft charges (including yet another today) has been credited back to my account - although I have requested that action from the branch and WaMu "customer service." "Customer service" ignored my requests for the name of someone higher up in the company who might be able to help me (I understand that this is a common complaint of supposedly valuable WaMu customers experiencing account problems). I did get a copy of an email from the branch manager in which he requested that his assistant manager take care of the situation. Nothing has happened.

My rant is over. I guess the days of a bank that treats small businesses like a small town neighbor are also over. Maybe WaMu has gotten a little too big for it's britches. I suppose I expected more from the company because that is what the bank offered. Early on I would often recommend WaMu to a small business owner looking for an appropriate bank. That would not be the case today. Perhaps I should have kept my banking with the smaller, three-branch, truly customer service-oriented - but less convenient - community bank with which I had done business for years.

Update 03.12.07: This is the response received from "customer service" today in a form letter response (I know it is a pre-fabbed response due to submitting two individual complaints and getting exactly the same response to each submission.):

I understand these fees can be costly and regret that they cannot be refunded. As a courtesy, WaMu has paid the items that overdrew your account to the merchant, which prevents you from incurring additional charges for them.

Washington Mutual takes responsibility for bank errors and will work with customers to resolve issues arising from those errors. Your concern has been researched, and as no bank error was found, the fee cannot be refunded.

Update 03.23.07: Still no action from Wamu in crediting the overdrafts as a result of their mishandling of my night drop deposit. I do know that the situation has cost the bank a few potential business customers - which may prevent others from going through similar situations.

The manager of another WaMu branch told me that the Lombard & Burrage manager should have made the situation right. A customer service person for U.S. Bank told me that their personnel would have made more of an effort to contact me initially upon not being able to read the account number, to avoid such a situation getting out of control - and then they would have refunded the unnecessary overdraft charges. The U.S. bank individual said they would treat a customer better when dealing with justified overdraft charges - first offering the customer the bank's overdraft protection product and then, as a courtesy, refunding the most recent overdrafts.

Update: 03.27.07: Yesterday I learned from another WaMu manager that I should have received at least a couple "courtesy overdraft refunds" in this matter. I had no idea there was such a thing

Today I received notification from the assistant manager of my branch that the overdraft charges incurred due to this situation were being refunded. In addition, she emailed me the following:

"I do apologize for the inconvenience and the confusion on this account. I do take full ownership of this situation and agree that it should not have happened. We do value your business and the relationship we have established. I assure you that this type of situation will not happen again. My staff is now fully trained on how to handle these particular situations. If you would like to discuss anything further I would love to hear from you. We do strive to give great customer service and hope we can redeem ourselves in the future if you are willing to give us that opportunity. Thank you for bring this to our attention and again I do apologize for this situation and the time it took out of your day."

Thank you WaMu.

Update: 04.07.07: Just a little more "WAMU weirdness." So this week I notice an unusual deposit to my account on 04.02.07 and I can't figure out what the hell is going on. Turns out a deposit I made to my account - via the infamous Lombard & Burrage night deposit box - back during the last week January (that's over two months ago!), drawn on a local Portland bank, was just deposited to my account. Huh? Was the check just laying around the branch somewhere? No wonder my account was screwy this past month - I guess I need to keep an even closer eye on the happenings at my WAMU branch.

Update: 05.12.07: Another cute little "WAMU trick." There was a line at my WaMu branch this Saturday morning - so I deposited a check via the ATM. Just noticed online that the deposit is already posted to my account - with a posting date of 5/14/07 rather than today. No notification online that the check is being held or anything. I guess WaMu can do things like that when they just don't give a hoot about providing quality customer service to their customers.

Update: 05.13.07:It's a Sunday evening and I just got a "canned" response from WaMu "customer service about the above issue. It said:

Thank you for your email. I understand your concern and apologize for any inconvenience caused.

Dates listed on your statements and through the Online Banking Service reflect the posting date for transactions. Transactions can only reflect posting dates that correspond with business days. Saturdays, Sundays, and federal holidays are not business days.

Any transaction that takes place on a non-business day reflects a posting date that corresponds with the next business day. For instance, transactions processed on a Saturday will reflect on your statement with Monday's date. If Monday is a holiday, then the transaction will reflect Tuesday's date.

Hmmm... that's funny; if Saturday is not a business day then why is the branch open? When a deposit is made at an open branch are they not open for business, with business being conducted? And why am I getting an email from "customer service" on a Sunday evening? I thought Sunday was not a business day. Looks like WaMu makes up the rules to whatever beneifts them the most...

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Logo competition upsets local graphic designers

I was pleased to read of the position being taken by 11 graphic designers in Cleveland in response to the Cleveland Foundation conducting a "contest" to select a new logo. HOW Design Forum member "dougler" brought the article Logo competition upsets local graphic designers to the attention of forum visitors earlier today.

I think many in the design industry have reached a point of "we're mad as hell and not going to take it anymore" in regards to calls for speculative work being masked as "contests." The NO!SPEC movement was launched for the purpose of taking on the issue of graphic design industry "spec" work. Some argue that "spec" requests have always existed in the design industry. That doesn't mean such situations are acceptable or should continue.

The letter written by the designers to The Plain Dealer newspaper, and the follow-up article, are a welcome addition to the ongoing design industry effort to educate businesses, organizations, other designers and the general public about the value of professional graphic design and the processes that may help any design client get the best end result. My previous well-circulated article and bLog-oMotives post, When a "contest" is not a contest, and efforts such as the Graphic Artists Guild's published Suggested Guidelines for Art Competitions and Contests, also are part of that education process.

I seriously doubt that the Cleveland Foundation intended, or expected, to find themselves in the middle of a controversy when announcing the organization's logo design contest. Perhaps the "contest" should have been researched further before putting the specifications out to the public. The newspaper article comments of James Lubetkin, senior communications editor at the foundation, suggest that the organization does have a sensitivity to the situation - after the fact.

I've been involved in situations in the past where an entity seeking a new identity has initially reviewed a great many portfolios. From reviewing past work, a few designers/firms are selected to submit presentations. Those design professionals are compensated with "x" number of dollars for the time spent in preparing and presenting proposals. The business, agency or organization then bases their hiring decision on those presented ideas. I appreciate the search process being conducted in such a manner. As a designer, it conveys to me that the potential client understands the value of the professional graphic design process and the results.

Congratulations to the "Cleveland 11" for putting a public spotlight on the issue.

© Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Tharp Did It: A retrospective exhibit

At the 2005 HOW Design Conference in Chicago the news spread quickly through the gathered design professionals: Designer Rick Tharp was missing. It was later learned that the man whose work I admired so much had taken his own life. At the time, as a contribution to my Logo Notions column, I wrote the well-received tribute piece An introduction - and farewell tip of the hat — to Mr. Tharp. Through that article I cyberly met many people who cared deeply for Tharp, including family, friends and design industry peers.

This evening one of those individuals, Lourdes Pollard of the Phoenix Data Center, contacted me to make me aware of an exhibit honoring Rick Tharp and his work.

The exhibit, THARP DID IT: GRAPHIC WORK - A Retrospective Exhibit, opened this past week at the Art Museum of Los Gatos in California. The show of Tharp's work will continue through March 30, 2007. On Saturday, March 24, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., there will be a Gala Reception, and silent auction, to benefit the Rick Tharp Design Scholarship.

The museum's website states:

Rick Tharp came to Los Gatos in 1974, and maintained a studio in Old Town for 30 years. He designed the masthead, mascot, and the first few issues of the Los Gatos Weekly in 1982.

Rick’s firm, Tharp Did It, specialized in corporate identity, package design and environmental design. Renowned for his humorous designs, his work ranged from wine labels, business logos, and award-winning advertising campaigns for companies such as Brio, a European toymaker.

Local Tharp customers include: Steamer's, Le Boulanger, Carrie Nation, Domus, Bears in the Wood, The Wooden Horse, Valeriano's Restaurant and Old Town among others.

In 1988 Tharp received a CLIO Award, often referred to as the "Oscar" of the advertising world, in New York for wine packaging design for Mirassou Vineyards. He designed street signs and banners for the Town of Los Gatos. His philosophy was "Don't break rules just to be breaking rules, but, on the other hand, don't let them get in the way either." and "Always have fun doing it."

Anyone having the opportunity should see the exhibit, which is sure to be a collection of incredible creative inspiration for any designer.

Photo: Saratoga News/George Sakkestad

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

A reading list for poolside enjoyment - Part deux

Last year when I returned from two weeks in St. Croix I posted the list of books I'd read by the pool. This year, before I even left for the annual trip, people were already asking what I planned on ready. To be honest, the stack of books for this trip came together at the last minute with trips to Powell's and Borders the day before we left for the Caribbean.

For the most part, the reading list for 2007 was made up of books about food, about wine, about travel, or about food, wine and travel. Although I didn't leave the beachfront house for an initial period of seven days, I was not quite the reading maniac this year. Part of my vacation, with PowerBook as carry-on luggage, was spent finishing my own upcoming book, Identity Crisis! Somehow I ended up coming home with several books that had not even been cracked open.

Just prior to the trip, my friend Mary suggested that I read A Thousand Days in Venice, by Marlena De Blasi. Venice is one of my favorite places in the world. We plan on visiting the city again this fall. The author's writing took me there - I could smell the food, flowers and stinky canal water; I had been to many of the locations mentioned, and I'd walked the streets the author traveled. In her second book De Blasi and her husband move to a small village in Tuscany. A Thousand Days in Tuscany transports the reader there. As I usually stay in similar villages in Umbria, near the border of Tuscany, I could relate to many of the events and experiences described in the book - and look forward to being there again this year.

Our friend Carol (who has been our housecleaning person for over 12 years) recommended that I read Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia, by Elizabeth Gilbert, even though she considered it a bit of a "chick book." She thought I would find the writing about food, travel, culture and spirituality interesting. It was a great book about the author's stays in each of the geographic locations. The reader can almost gain the 30+ pounds the writer put on while eating her way through Italy by reading of her experiences. Still, I'm not sure I can forgive GIlbert for not personally liking Venice. Having only been to Bombay (now Mumbai) in India, I found the writer's search for spirituality on a remote ashram a great contrast to my own experiences. I've always wanted to visit Bali and surrounding islands. Gilbert provided an excellent introduction to the culture of the island. Although I did occasionally want to yell "Snap out of it!" at the author, for being whiny about her life, I did enjoy the book and her search for solutions to the personal issues she was facing.

Two years ago, while in St. Croix, I read J. Maarten Troost's hilarious book The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific, about living on Tarawa, a remote South Pacific island in the Republic of Kiribati, for two years. This year I packed, and thoroughly enjoyed, his follow-up book, Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu. In this segment of his life, Troost and his wife, Sylvia, move from Washington, D.C., to Vanuatu, a nation made up of 83 islands in the South Pacific. "Getting stoned" refers to the altered state and pleasure he gets from drinking kava with the locals (I've had it before and the "high" is a bit bizarre.). The adventures, and misadventures, of the couple make a great read.

I interrupted the travel and food literary itinerary long enough to finally read Caffeine for the Creative Mind: 250 Exercises to Wake Up Your Brain, by Stefan Mumaw and Wendy Lee Oldfield. Yes, I actually took a graphic design book on vacation with me. A few years ago, in San Diego, Wendy interviewed me for the book at the HOW Design Conference. I was honored to be included in the book as one of a dozen industry professional profiles surrounded by great creative exercises. It was great to finally have the opportunity to read the book without the static of my normal work life. Every designer should get themselves a copy.

Many years ago I read a very rough draft of my friend Don Horn's book, Crumbs of Love: And That's All You're Ever Going To Get. He gave me a copy of the published book just after the first of the year. It's an amazing story of his early life, growing up in an incredibly dysfunctional family. The travel in the book is in the form of long-distance road trips, the food is far from gourmet and the accommodations are certainly not luxurious. I'm so proud of him for getting the book completed and out there for others to read. My partner Ed, and out travel companions Lisa and Bev, were all stunned and fascinated by the book.

I've always loved great writing and the New York Times restaurant reviews of critic Ruth Reichl were always a feast of words. Her book, Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise, was the most enjoyable I read on my vacation this year. In addition to be an excellent writer, Reichl is a fantastic storyteller. I'm looking forward to a visit to Powell's to pick up her other books.

At a movie in January I saw the previews for a film called The Namesake and it caused me to seek out the book on which the film is based. Jhumpa Lahiri, who won the Pulitzer Prize for her book Interpreter of Maladies, is the author of the novel The Namesake. It's an incredible look into the cultural conflicts within one family, with one root of the family tree in India and another in the United States. As in many of the books I read while in the Caribbean, food and travel play a large role in the story. Lahiri's writing is so fine, I'm no longer sure I want to see the movie. I think any film adaptation may ruin the experience I had reading the book.

Shortly before leaving for our trip, Ed and I had a wonderful evening with our friends Bob and Norma. The conversation usually turns to books when we get together as Bob is an accomplished writer in his own right, having published his holiday story collection Mardi Gras at the Monastery And Other Stories, and the historical non-fiction books Fire Mission!: The Siege at Mortain and Enemy North, South, East, West. When Norma asked what I was currently reading, I explained that I was in the middle of the excellent Thomas Jefferson on Wine by John Hailman. She replied that I simply must read what she was currently enjoying - Wine and War: The French, the Nazis, and the Battle for France's Greatest Treasure by Donald and Petie Kladstrup. I took the book on the trip and it is an amazing history lesson on war, wine and French life.

Another book I read while in the Caribbean two years ago was Running with Scissors: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs. In fact, the film was one of six or seven movies we watched while in St. Croix this year. The oddest, and funniest, book I read on this trip was Burroughs' novel Sellevision. Take somewhat sick and twisted characters like those in Scissors and put them all together working at a cable shopping network and just about anything can happen. Sellevision would make a fun film.

Now I am reading the book I began prior to our 13+ hours on planes coming back to Portland. Barack Obama is the most fascinating politician today and his book, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, details his thoughts on improving our country. If the election were held today, I'm not sure Obama would get my vote. However, I am enjoying learning more about him and I look forward to what will be a very interesting presidential campaign over the next year.

As I mentioned, several books didn't even get opened during our travels. I have not yet read Arthur & George by Julian Barnes, The Noodle Maker by Ma Jian, and Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky. Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany by Bill Buford, My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud'Homme, and Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals never even made it off my nightstand and into my luggage.

Oh well, there will be other vacations...

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Jeff Fisher LogoMotives featured at LogoPond

For some time I've been working on putting together a bLog-oMotives piece on the variety of online portfolio and directory sites available to designers - especially those working in the area of identity design. LogoPond, a logo design inspiration and critique site, was one of the resources to be included in that future piece. This morning my blog was getting a great deal of traffic from LogoPond so I thought I would investigate what was going on.

It turns out that my logo design work is the new "Featured Showcase" on the site. Over the past couple months I've been adding examples of my identity efforts to my own LogoPond showcase page. In fact, later today I plan to spend a bit of time adding a few more examples.

LogoPond allows designers, of all experience levels, to upload samples of their work at no cost. Some logos are works-in-progress for which designers specifically request critiques from site members (although members often seem to provide criticism whether requested or not). Other examples, as in my case, are finalized designs being posted as a source of possible inspiration for design students or those already active in the profession. In addition, site members may create their own profile page.

One of my pet peeves about the site, and many other online design critique venues, is that LogoPond allows individuals to post criticism anonymously while hiding behind a screenname with no public profile displaying any credentials to back up their supposed expertise. Posting of random comments, with no constructive design-related value, is of little use to a designer who may be requesting legitimate input. I actually had a cowardly anonymous poster refer to me as a "homo" in a recent personal attack masquerading as a "critique." Such comments reflect poorly on the design profession in a very public way. It felt to me as if a very professional design industry web presence had been reduced to little more than a middle school playground.

With my individual logo uploads I include a brief description of the specific logo project featured, list any awards the design may have received and mention books in which the design has been published. I then post a link to a bLog-oMotives entry, Creative Latitude article, or other online resource related to the logo.

LogoPond also has its own online forum for the discussion of identity, or design, related topics. Recent online discussions have hinted at a future LogoPond book and the possibility of a similar site focusing on illustration. The web presence also provides a page of additional related resources.

More on other Internet design portfolio sites and directories in the future.

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

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:

Brochures from North to South America
(Index Book - Spain)
Deadline: No specific date published
No entry fees charged

Hungry Design
(Index Book - Spain)
Deadline: No specific date published
No entry fees charged

Packaging Identity
(Index Book - Spain)
Deadline: No specific date published
No entry fees charged

CA Illustration Annual
(Communications Arts - USA)
Deadline: March 13, 2007
Entry fees charged

CA Photography Annual
(Communications Arts - USA)
Deadline: March 13, 2007
Entry fees charged

American Inhouse Design Awards
(Graphic Design: usa - USA)
Deadline Extended: March 16, 2007
Entry fees charged

The Best of Business Card Design 8
(Rockport Publishers - USA)
Deadline Extended: March 16, 2007
No entry fees charged

1000 Music Graphics
(Rockport Publishers - USA)
Deadline Extended: March 31, 2007
No entry fees charged

HOW Promotion Design Awards
(HOW Magazine - USA)
Deadline Extended: April 2, 2007
Entry fees charged

Information Design Workbook
(Rockport Publishers - USA)
Deadline Extended: April 9, 2007
No entry fees charged

LogoLounge 4
(LogoLounge - USA)
Deadline: March 31, 2007
LogoLounge membership required

PRINT Regional Design Annual
(PRINT Magazine - USA)
Deadline Extended: April 2, 2007
Entry fees charged

STEP's Best of Web
(STEP Inside Design - USA)
Deadline: April 2, 2007
Entry fees charged

HOW InHOWse Design Awards
(HOW Magazine - USA)
Deadline: April 13, 2007
Entry fees charged

Design Matters: Packaging
(Rockport Publishers - USA)
Deadline: April 13, 2007
No entry fees charged

Celebrity Logos
(Index Book - Spain)
Deadline: April 21, 2007
No entry fees charged

Grids: 100 Creative Solutions for Designers
(Rotovision - UK)
Deadline: April 30, 2007
No entry fees charged

Big Book of Design Ideas 3
(David E. Carter - USA)
Deadline: May 4, 2007
Entry fees charged

European Logo Design Annual
(Eulda - Italy)
Deadline: May 18, 2007
Entry fees charged

The Create Awards
(Create Magazine - USA)
Deadline: June 1, 2007
Entry fees charged

Print & Production Finishes for Packaging
(Rotovision - UK)
Deadline: June 30, 2007
No entry fees charged

Print & Production Finishes for Sustainable Design
(Rotovision - UK)
Deadline: June 30, 2007
No entry fees charged

Communicating with Pattern: Signs & Symbols
(Rotovision - UK)
Deadline: August 31, 2007
No entry fees charged

Squares, checks & grids
(Rotovision - UK)
Deadline: August 31, 2007
No 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. A list of design competition links appears at the end of the article.

Design competition calendars are also available at Icograda and Workbook. DesignTaxi and Dexinger post competitions of great value to industry professionals - however designers need to be aware that some of the listings are for "spec" work as a requirement for submission. Requests for new, or speculative, work as a condition of entering a "contest" are much different than legitimate design competition "calls for entries," in which previously created works are judged for possible awards, exhibition, or publication in an annual or other book.

Good luck!

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives