Design studio housecleaning - excavated artifact #9

The design studio housecleaning continues. There are boxes of old design concepts and projects that haven't been touched in at least a decade. Here's another example of a logo design concept I recently came across.

Back in 1997 a close friend was discussing the possibility of opening a retail store that focused on outdoor bird houses, various bird seed products and related items for the gardener looking to invite wild birds into their landscapes. During an afternoon conversation a brain-fart resulted in the name "For the Birds" being realized for the venture. I told the friend I would be thrilled to create the logo for the business while she did necessary further research on the business.

A few days later I scribbled out a potential design, with a black ballpoint pen, on the back of a folded piece of laser paper from my recycle bin (actually a printout of my own then recently completed Jeff Fisher LogoMotives identity is on the other side of the sheet). The scribble has a bird house graphic as its centerpiece, with the opening to the residence as the letterform "O" in the word "FOR." Little doodles of bird images sit on top of the letters "B" and "S" from "BIRDS."

I obviously wasn't completely pleased with the concept. On the reverse side of a fax printout, along with a collection of phone messages and client appointment notes, is an additional rough sketch of the design idea. This one has a bird as the "B" letterform in the word "BIRDS."

The two concept drawings were combined - with the addition of a leafy tree branch for balance - to create the final logo design, which has always been a personal favorite. In the end, my friend never opened her bird house store as her career went off in another direction. However, the logo design has lived on in the books New Logo & Trademark Design (Japan), Bullet-Proof Logos, The New Big Book of Logos and Logo & Trademark Collection (Japan).

Note: In previous bLog-oMotives entries I took a look back at excavated artifacts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

"Helvetica" to be shown at PDX Fest

"Helvetica," Gary Hustwit's documentary celebrating the 50th birthday of the typeface, is one of the films being presented as part of the Portland Documentary and eXperimental Film Festival. Commonly known as PDX Fest, the five-day event kicks off tonight at the historic Hollywood Theatre in Portland. Shawn Levy, of The Oregonian, wrote in today's newspaper that the festival "is a cultural treasure that no other city on Earth can quite emulate, and you should do what you can to sample it during its brief run in the next few days."

According to the film's website, "'Helvetica' is a feature-length independent film about typography, graphic design and global visual culture. It looks at the proliferation of one typeface as part of a larger conversation about the way type affects our lives." Levy mentions in his article that the documentary also "serves as a brief, selective history of modern design."

"Helvetica" will be screened at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 29 at the Hollywood Theatre, 4122 N.E. Sandy Blvd. Director Gary Hustwit will be in town to present the Portland premiere of his film.

Founded and organized by local filmmakers, PDX Fest, showcases provocative, artistic and uncompromising films from around the globe. The festival is produced by Peripheral Produce, a video distribution label and screening series started by filmmaker Matt McCormick.

The sixth PDX Fest includes opening events, screenings, exhibitions and discussions with filmmakers. A full schedule of events is listed on the PDX Fest website.

Image from "Helvetica" website

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

A quick "thank you" to UnBeige

bLog-oMotives is getting a bit more traffic than usual this morning - and it's coming from's blog UnBeige. Thanks for the mention in the UnBeige post To Tell the Tale of Branding, with references to David Airey's logo sketches for a client named Circle, the process I've been through in creating my own business identity, and Airey's post Is your logo design phallic?

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Toot! Toot!:

Jeff Fisher LogoMotives design

awarded Summit Creative Award

Jeff Fisher LogoMotives has been awarded a Bronze in the 2007 Summit Creative Awards, in the category of Consumer Magazine Full Page+, for a two-page spread created to promote the VanderVeer Center. The awards were created 13 years ago to recognize and celebrate the creative accomplishments of small and medium sized advertising agencies and other creative companies throughout the world with annual billings of under $25 million. Thousands of entries, from 23 countries, were submitted for consideration this year. Since 1998, Fisher has received 16 of the honors.

A new identity and total branding package was implemented for the VanderVeer Center, a Portland, OR anti-aging and cosmetic procedure medical clinic, during 2006. The recognized print advertisement introduced the design and branding elements that were then used throughout the creation of all collateral, advertising, packaging, direct mail, outdoor, television and website projects. The one-page version of the magazine ad appears in the recently released book The Big Book of Layouts. Fisher's design for the company's logo has already been selected to appear in the books The Big Book of Logos 5 and Branded. The VanderVeer Center stationery package is featured in the book The Big Book of Letterheads. The rebranding of the firm is one of the case studies to be featured in the designer's own future book Identity Crisis!

(Ironically, Vanity Fair magazine recently refused to print the full-page version of the ad in a special regional Portland edition - but more about that in a future bLog-omotives entry.)

Designer Jeff Fisher, the Engineer of Creative Identity for the design firm, also served on the international panel of judges for the 2007 Summit Creative Awards. Other professionals participating in the judging process - from the United States, Kuwait, Denmark, Dubai, Canada, Germany, and Japan - represented the firms Paragon Marketing Communications, SP3, Turner studios, Stormhouse Partners, TBWA, Door Number 3, Ilan Geva & Friends, Olgivy & Mather, Tantramar Interactive Inc., Stellar Debris Creative Studios, Marketel, Velocity Design Works, Promoseven Network Inc., Quantum Advertising and Jeff Fisher LogoMotives. When it came time to review and score the some entries, Fisher found it necessary to excuse himself from judging his own work and familiar logo design submissions from several other designers.

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. He is currently writing Identity Crisis, also for HOW Design Books, which is expected to be on bookshelves in the fall of 2007.

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

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Jeffism #7

"When a graphics industry expert proclaims something a current 'design trend' it is a 'breaking news' message to designers everywhere that the specific 'trend' should be avoided from that moment on - rather than followed by a thundering flock of design sheep."

- Jeff Fisher

The design firm name conundrum

What's in a name? A great deal when you are a graphic designer attempting to brand yourself for business purposes. Designers are often commenting to me about the difficulty in determining how to label themselves for business purposes. Others in the profession regularly post questions about the issue on online design forums.

Although I've been very happy to use the business name Jeff Fisher LogoMotives for the past ten years, I had the same struggle when first starting out in the design profession - and the challenges continued for a number of years.

When first moving to Portland in 1980, I created a simple red "jf" icon, making use of the font Tiffany, to be used on my resume and stationery items as I searched for my first design job. In the poor economy of the time there were no jobs to be had and I soon found myself taking on independent design projects from a variety of clients.

That's when I started playing with the possibility of creating a name for my design and art efforts. I came up with the term "art-werks, ink." as an umbrella name for what included my graphic design efforts, and the ink line drawings and silkscreen prints I was selling at galleries throughout the state of Oregon. The graphic was a simple image of a bottle of India ink with the top portion of the symbol creating the "A" letterform. The ink bottle seemed especially appropriate as I was often spilling bottles of the black substance all over the furnishings and carpet of my home. I had a rubber stamp made of the ink bottle icon in a circle and would often use the stamped identity imagery on business correspondence. The type was a somewhat phonetic treatment of the business name in Avant Garde.

Following the career interuption of my first "real" job as art director of a group of medical publications, I again needed to establish an image for myself for the contract work I was then doing above and beyond a then current ad agency art director position. I revisited the image I used on my resume about four years earlier. "Jeff Fisher Graphic Design" was the name being used at the time.

A move to Seattle in 1985 resulted in a lot of changes. My partner, at the time, was selling menu design and production services. As restaurant identity and menu design work began coming my way I toyed with the idea of marketing myself as "MenuGraphix." It seemed to be a little too limiting as far as attracting new clientele outside of the restaurant industry. I then introduced myself as "Ad Ventures, Ink."

Once again a pesky traditional employment situation, this time as creative director of a clothing company, got in the way of seriously making use of the new business moniker.

It was about this time that I first tossed out the name "Logo Motive" as a possible business identification. It was met with nothing but negative feedback from family, friends and clients. The name, and the created logo image, was used in one print ad and shelved. I was nearly a decade into my career as a professional designer and all felt I should be using my own name to capitalize on my design reputation.

In the late 80's I moved back to Portland and, while maintaining my Seattle clientele, I needed to reintroduce myself to the Portland market. Initially I used the previous identity with the red "jf." However, it felt dated and I soon was using a very simple treatment of "Jeff Fisher" in Kabel. About four years later I resurrected the idea of using "Logo Motive" again. In Portland the concept was met with the same enthusiasm I experienced in Seattle - and I filed the revised images away.

A couple years later I hit a design career "speed bump." I was feeling bored with my profession and probably experiencing a bit of "burnout" after working in design for nearly 20 years. In re-evaluating my professional options I determined I really wanted to focus on identity design.

The old "Logo Motive" concept came out for another look. By fine-tuning the locomotive image, maintaining the use of the font Kabel, adding "Jeff Fisher" to the graphic, and putting an "s" to what was now the single word "LogoMotive," the business identity for "Jeff Fisher LogoMotives" was born. The best thing about the business name and logo is that my target client audience is told who I am and what I do.

Had I listened to my "gut instincts" about a possible business name - instead of the feedback from others around me - I might have established a stronger, and more permanent, business image much earlier. Instead, I was my own worst, wishy-washy client. Still, the end result was worth the effort and is still chugging along the tracks after a decade of use. I don't think I'll be changing it any time soon.

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

The Magic of View-Master exhibit in Portland

As a kid I was fascinated with my View-Master. It took me on travels around the world and gave incredible dimension to some of my favorite cartoon characters. I also thought it was really cool that the company was based in Oregon - and, on our station wagon adventures, my family occasionally went by the factory where the magic was taking place.

My childhood flashed back to me the other day with an article in The Oregonian about the new exhibit at the The 3D Center of Art and Photography. This past Thursday the exhibition The Magic of View-Master opened in the gallery/museum. The show will run through May 27, 2007.

From the Center's website:

The Magic of View-Master will take a stroll through the history of the View-Master company. The exhibition will included numerous pieces of View-Master history, such as cameras, viewers, reels and projectors.

A highlight of the exhibition will be original sculptures from View-Master artist, Joe Liptak. Mr. Liptak hand-crafted many of the best View-Master sets in the 1970's including Cinderella, the Jungle Book and the Flintstones. A selection of Mr. Liptak's creations will be on display in the Gallery.

During the run of the exhibit, a digital stereo slide show, View-Master Through the Ages, will be presented in the Stereo Theater. On the evenings of April 19th and May 19th there will be discussions with sculptor Joe Liptak and former View-Master employee Rich Dubnow.

The 3D Center of Art and Photography, a non-profit museum/gallery, features the best in antique and contemporary 3D imagery. The Center houses everything from antique stereocards to View Master, contemporary 3D photography, lenticulars, anaglyphs, and computer generated 3D art. The facility is located at 1928 NW Lovejoy Street in Portland, Oregon.

Hmmm...I wonder what happened to the View-Master and reels that my siblings and I enjoyed as kids. I suppose our parents sold it all at some point, along with our Lionel train set, because they felt we were no longer interested in the toys of our childhood.

Photo of View-Master sculptor Joe Liptak from The 3D Center of Art and Photography website

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

"Little Guys" offer big resources

As an independent graphic design business person I always like to support others in the same position. I'm pleased to give The Little Guys Network some exposure on bLog-oMotives. The group is a consortium of small businesses offering design profession resources.

The image companies in the "Little Guys" neighborhood include Andy Nortnik, ArtBitz, Art Parts, Havana Street and Miss Mary. Just down the street are the font firms Blue Vinyl Fonts, FontHaus, Fonthead Design and Letterhead Fonts. Around the corner are the design resources The Design Center and

Fonthead Design is one of my personal favorites when it comes to type for some logo designs. In fact, I wrote about the company in a previous bLog-oMotives entry. I've also got a bit of a connection to Chuck Green, the individual behind - he was a contributor to my first book, The Savvy Designer's Guide to Success.

If you get a chance, take a look at The Little Guys Network. You'll find some great resources that may be a big help to you in future design efforts.

Illustration: Little Guys Network home page

© Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Re-Design: Joy Creek Nursery

With gardening season upon us (at least in the Pacific Northwest with improvements in the weather), I look forward to pushing myself away from the computer much more for some playing in the dirt as "garden therapy." My partner Ed, family and friends still marvel, and snicker, at the fact I've become a such a gardener since moving to our North Portland house. Part of my enthusiasm is due to the efforts of Joy Creek Nursery in preparing an incredible palette for the digging, planting, weeding and enjoyment of my garden. As Joy Creek Nursery celebrates a 15th year in business I'm taking a look back at their logo redesign project.

The original logo for Joy Creek Nursery was created by a local print shop out of an immediate need when the business started. A “brand” for the company was then established by using the existing identity on signage, business cards, print ads, catalogues and other items. For designing other marketing and promotion items, and use by the owners, a digital logo was provided in the resolution shown.

In 1998, my thoughts about the existing logo, and its reproduction issues, were conveyed to the owners, who are friends of mine. The inconsistent weight of the letters in the text, the haphazard computer manipulation of the letterforms, the poor quality of the only existing digital imagery, and the two typefaces used in the design blended to convey a graphically unprofessional image for the high-end specialty nursery.

The client expressed concern about introducing a “new” logo after having been in business for some time. They were informed that a “revised” design could maintain a sense of the existing brand, while projecting more professionalism.

The new logo, using a more elegant type, still says “Joy Creek Nursery” to the firm’s clients and vendors. The flowing form between the words hints at the actual creek flowing through the nursery property when presented in blue and conveys an image of the rolling hills of the area when the logo is printed produced as a one-color design in green.

The Joy Creek identity has received its fair share of recognition. The design received a LOGO 2001 award and, as a result appears in the book The New Big Book of Logos. It also is featured in the volumes Logo Design for Small Business 2, Logos Redesigned: How 200 Companies Successfully Changed Their Image and New Logo World (Japan).

Previous bLog-oMotives entries featured additional identity re-designs: Benicia Historical MuseumOur House of PortlandNorth Portland Business AssociationJust OutLaugh Lover's Ball. Redesigns from designers around the world are the focus of my next book, Identity Crisis!, to be released in the fall of 2007.

You can read the latest from Joy Creek Nursery on their blog, The Joy Creek Times

© 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:

HOW InHOWse Design Awards
(HOW Magazine - USA)
Deadline Extended: April 30, 2007
Entry fees charged

Letter Arts Review International Competition
(Letter Arts Review - USA)
Deadline: April 16, 2007
Entry fees charged

STEP's Best of Web
(STEP Inside Design - USA)
Deadline Extended: April 16, 2007
Entry fees charged

Design Matters: Packaging
(Rockport Publishers - USA)
Deadline Extended: May 5, 2007
No entry fees charged

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

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

1000 Jewelry Details
(Rockport Publishers - USA)
Deadline: May 15, 2007
No entry fees charged

1000 Artist Journal Pages
(Rockport Publishers - USA)
Deadline: May 15, 2007
No entry fees charged

PRINT Student Cover Competition
(PRINT Magazine - USA)
Deadline: May 15, 2007

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

American Graphic Design Awards
(Graphic Design: usa - USA)
Deadline: May 18, 2007
Entry fees charged

Grids: 100 Creative Solutions for Designers
(Rotovision - UK)
Deadline: May 25, 2007
No entry fees charged

Hungry Design
(Index Book - Spain)
Deadline: May 30, 2007
No entry fees charged

Packaging Identity
(Index Book - Spain)
Deadline: May 30, 2007
No 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

CA Advertising Annual
(Communications Arts - USA)
Deadline: July 1, 2007
Entry fees charged

CA Design Annual
(Communications Arts - USA)
Deadline: July 1, 2007
Entry fees charged

HOW Interactive Design Awards
(HOW Magazine - USA)
Deadline: July 16, 2007
Entry fees charged

UCDA Design Competition
(University & College Designers Association - USA)
Deadline: July 6, 2007
Entry fees charged

Dynamic Graphics Re:Design Competition
(Dynamic Graphics - USA)
Deadline: August 6, 2007
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

HOW International Design Awards
(HOW Magazine - USA)
Deadline: September 4, 2007
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.

For the perspecctive from the other side of design competitions, I wrote a recent bLog-oMotives entry about judging the 2007 Summit Creative Awards.

Good luck!

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Finds while bouncing 'round the blog-o-sphere

Just got up from my nap on this rainy Saturday afternoon and was checking out some of the links that run down the left side of bLog-oMotives. To be honest, I'd much rather be out "playing in the dirt" of my garden.

However, the always interesting the thought kitchen, from the folks at nau, led me to pausing for a moment on their "like minds" links. I wondered what Milky Plastique was all about - and found plenty of art and design eye-candy to visit. Browsing through the entries was a great was to spend some time on this lazy day. I bounced a ways down to the post about The Poster List and was connected to the great poster design work of a couple guys named Adam and Neil. I think the image "Cut & Paste" (above) may have cause a momentary design career flash-back. Nice work guys!

Illustration courtesy of The Poster List

© Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Good as Gold (+ Williams)

We've got an electic collection of furniture in our home - family pieces, antiques collected over the years, art pieces, things literally found on the side of the road, and even a dining room set that I designed and had built. Then there are the "investment" items that we've purchased or had custom-made, spending more than we probably should have, that will last for years. One of those is our leather recliner that doesn't look like a recliner.

Ed wanted a recliner. I had visions of the two matching, clunky, blue velour, monstrosities a neighbor lady had on her front porch when we first moved into our North Portland neighborhood. My directive to Ed was simple: "you can have a recliner if it's small and doesn't look like a recliner." A few years ago, while he was working out of his firm's San Francisco office, I came across the chair that would work. The next day I took him to the store, he sat in the chair, and a look of complete bliss came over his face as he pushed himself back into a reclined position. I smiled and said, "OK, now look at the price tag." Investment furniture.

That particular chair was designed and produced by, what was then, a company named Mitchell Gold. Since then the company name has changed to Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. What originally attracted me to the company were the simple and beautiful print ad campaigns. (There's an archive of past ads on the firm's website.) Then there's the simple, beautiful and well-built furniture.

This past week I got an email asking me to RSVP for an event, held at the Portland retail store, to celebrate the release of book Let's Get Comfortable, written by the duo with Gold's sister-in-law Mindy Drucker. Last night at the event there was champagne, white wine, tasty "poo poos," and sugar cookies featuring the cover of the new book. Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams could not have been nicer and more down-to-earth - and then they gave me a copy of the book, which they personalized to "The Fishinghams" (a nickname given to my partner and I, formed by combining my last name and his name Cunningham).

The book is a great resource for insiration in "how to furnish and decorate a welcoming home." It offers many photographed suggestions for a variety of home styles - complete with photos and possible room layouts. It's kind of a beautiful "coffee table" book about how and where to place your coffee table.

In conjuction with the book release MG+BW has also launched the online "magazine" Comfort The introductory "issue" contains an interesting interview with playwright/activist Eve Ensler - the writer of The Vagina Monologues (that's the first time I've used the word "vagina" in a bLog-oMotives entry) and a piece on furnishing Second Homes.

I encourage readers to spend some time poking around the MG+BW website. You'll find the incredible photography of Tipper Gore (yes, that Tipper Gore) being sold to raise funds for The Climate Project. There's also the adventures of company mascot - and sometimes spokesdog - Lulu. Of course, the MG+BW furniture and accessories are also on display.

Photos courtesy of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Has the Portland city seal gone "Hollywood?"

Today, in The Oregonian's weekly inPortland section, the Portland city seal is mentioned in the Top of the Town column from writer Ryan Frank. The cast and crew of the upcoming movie "Untraceable" took over Portland City Hall last week for the filming of scenes and, in the process, the film's production department gave the city seal a dramatic Hollywood-style makeover.

The new image incorporates Mt. Hood; the Hawthorne, Fremont and St. Johns Bridges, the Willamette River, some trees and stars in the sky. According to the "Big O" item, Mayor Tom Potter likes the new design more than the real one. The Seal of Approval piece states:

"It's beautiful," Potter said Friday of the fake seal, which adorned fake police badges and fake doors and fake press conference backdrops during the shoot.

The newspaper reports that the producer of the movie offered to leave the seal as a gift.

The seal with the "star treatment" is much cleaner and more contemporary than the very traditional symbol now representing the City of Portland. The official image in use today is a 2005 update of the historic seal; last given a facelift in 1964. The symbols in the current seal are consistent with suggested design elements found in City Archives documents going back to 1878. The female figure in the center of the seal represents Commerce, while the sheaf of grain, cogwheel, and sledgehammer symbolize the origins of the city, its culture, agrarian base, and industry. A historical perspective on the evolution of the city seal is displayed on the web page of the Portland Auditor's Office.

The cinema version of the city seal does seem to convey a stronger and more graphically pleasing image of Portland. Perhaps city officials should give the "new and improved" seal some serious consideration.

In a "small world" aside, column writer Frank and I have our own graphic-related history. Back in 1998 he was the editor of the Oregon Daily Emerald, the University of Oregon's student newspaper. The publication was celebrating its 100th anniversary and Frank hired me to recreate, and update, the original flag of the paper to be used throughout the year of celebration. It somehow seemed appropriate that I design the image as, 20 years earlier, I got my start in the graphics profession as the advertising designer for the Daily Emerald.

Seal photo: Ross William Hamilton, The Oregonian

(I should also mention that the following notice appears at the end of today's "Top of the Town" column: "Reporter Anna Griffin, who wore Yankee pinstripes to the office on Opening Day, did most of the work for this column.")

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

HOW Conference early-bird registration date nears

Design professionals who wish to attend the 2007 HOW Design Conference in Atlanta, June 10-13, have until April 13th to meet the early-bird registration deadline. Discounted rates are available to individual and group registrants confirming conference registration by that date. Arrangements may be made online through the conference website. In past years this has been a sold-out conference.

The HOW Design Conference offers designers, and design students, the opportunity to network with over 3000 designers and 50+ speakers and workshop coordinators. The 2007 Conference program features 49 sessions covering everything from creativity to your career to design tools. The sessions are split into six tracks so you can easily find the sessions you want (and need) most: Creativity & Inspiration, Design Disciplines, Business & Management, Career Development, In-House Issues, and Technology & Production.

Check out the conference site, blog and online forum for more information about this exciting industry event. The website even offers advice for convincing your boss to send you to the 2007 HOW Design Conference.

Remember: Early-bird registration deadline - April 13th

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

The great disappearing museum logo mystery

I'm a longtime fan - and, when I remember, a paying member - of the Portland Art Museum. I've been visiting the galleries and exhibitions for nearly 40 years.

I always liked the look of the old PAM logo, with its Greek key icon. The design was clean, simple, classic and "museum-like."

With the major renovations of the museum facility over the past few years, it was not surprising that a new identity, and rebranding effort, were to come. This last year I remember getting a museum mailing sporting a new logo image. My immediate response was "Eeewww!" (That's a professional graphic design term for "Oh no, this is just not going to work!") A second, more critical, look at the fugly new symbol brought about thoughts that the logo made the viewer work too hard in attempting to read the actual name "Portland Art Museum."

The design was trying to be too clever for its own good. Most viewers were going to read the identity as PORT LAND MUSEUM. The letters that supposedly make up the word "ART" were not in the right order as most people read - the result is "RT A." My impression was that many people seeing the logo would completely miss the somewhat hidden, misspelled "ART" treatment, and I just don't remember anyone ever referring to the art exhibition structure as the "Portland Museum." It's always been labeled by its full name or the abbreviated "PAM."

This past November I came across the blog PORT article Welcoming PAM's new chief, in which artist/writer Jeff Jahn suggested a possible museum plan of action to new director Brian Ferriso. I was giggling to myself as I came across the "Short Term Fix" that read: "What is with the new museum logo? In a city with so many designers this just doesn't cut it."

Hmmm...I was not alone in my thoughts on the image.

And then the logo seemed to disappear. I hadn't seen it again during the several months since my initial strong reaction to its appearance.

While at the beach this past weekend I was catching up on my newspaper and magazine reading. I was flipping through the latest issue of Willamette Week and there was the "missing in action" PORT LAND MUSEUM logo - with the caption PAM LOGO SPURNED: Found buried on the art museum's website. The supporting text, in the Arts & Culture section's SCOOP - Gossip Should Have No Friends column read:

"LOGO NO-GO Nothing wrong with museums wanting to put their best face forward with a fancy-shmancy logo—which is why insiders say Portland Art Museum spent tens of thousands of dollars in 2005-2006 redesigning and relaunching their new brand (which, if you ask Scoop, is just plain hard to read). Apparently new PAM Exec Director Brian Ferriso agrees, which is why they say he's decided to chuck the logo and spend even more bucks for yet another new PAM logo to be unveiled in the next year or two."

Well, that explains the mystery of the logo that is no more. The image seems to have been banished to the island of unwanted logos - or perhaps logo hell. I had a really tough time finding an example of it to post in this bLog-oMotives entry. (It is in use on this web page.) The Portland Art Museum seems to be having a major identity crisis.

The continuing design journey to find the eventual identity for the new and improved PAM should be interesting.

Update Note - 04.04.07: Read more about this and related issues on the blog NameWire

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives