Design studio housecleaning - excavated artifact #12

Over a nearly 30-year career a designer does seem to accumulate a lot of "stuff" - especially when it seems nothing has ever been tossed out in the trash or recycled. My design studio housecleaning continues. I've been cleaning and cataloging my dusty advertising collectibles. The same is being done with my library of design books going back to my high school days. This past week I made sure that the contents of hundreds of old floppy disks from 1992-1997 were probably backed up and stored. See what I mean about never throwing anything away?

I am safely storing away doodles and sketches for logo designs, and other projects, that I've come across while cleaning out files and boxes. One pieces of paper, a laser printout of a letterhead for an engineering firm, displays the original doodle for my Jeff Maul logo, a couple others for clients of the advertising agency owned by my sister, and three sketches for what would become the identity for WordWright.

In 1994, Kimberly Webster came to me to create an identity for her technical, business and grant writing efforts. Her company name was to be WordWright. She wanted an image that projected a hand-wrought quality, conveying the sense of her work being done by a traditional craftsperson.

In my twisted little mind I immediately saw an image of pens and a pencil forming a rustic "W" icon. The doodles above, done with a fine-point black pen, show the progression of my thoughts to a final logo concept.

The font ITC Willow seemed like an appropriate "fit" with the graphic imagery. The combination resulted in a strong one-color identifying symbol for Webster's Portland-based business.

Webster moved to Seattle in 1997 and felt it was necessary to update the logo in introducing herself to a new market of potential independent project clients. With her last name beginning with a "W," the solution was simple. Her name was given the Willow type treatment and she was ready to take on her new business market.

A couple years later Webster called me to announce she was getting married and her logo once again needed to be altered. I've always accused her of seeking out someone whose surname began with a "W." With the married name of "Waters," a type change was all the change required.

This past year there was yet another name change. As this alteration required changing the established icon for the first time, I will write about it in a future Re-Design bLog-oMotives entry.

The original WordWright image made an appearance in the Japanese book New Logo & Trademark Design - republished in paperbook as Logo and Trademark Collection. In its "Kimberly Webster" form the identity was featured in the 1998 Print Regional Design Annual and the Japanese book Logo World. The "Kimberly Waters" logo is included in Letterhead and Logo Design 7, Logo Design for Small Business 2, The Big Book of Logos 3 and the Spanish book Logos: From North to South America (which will soon be released in paperback).

In previous bLog-oMotives entries I took a look back at excavated artifacts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11.

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Hi, I'm Jeff - and I'm addicted to collecting

(All together now: Hi Jeff!)

Over the years I have created collections of a variety of items including design books, advertising characters, salt and pepper shakers, cookie jars, character teapots, advertising signage, cowboy collectibles, art, fish-related items and more. Supposedly a moratorium has been placed on my "stuff gathering" activities, but I am still able to occasionally sneak an item into the house unnoticed until a much later date. Thankfully, friends are always happy to contribute to my habit and then I can't be blamed for the new additions.

Not long ago I realized that I don't have an archive of the sometimes very valuable items and, if for no other reason, I should have complete record for insurance purposes. The process of recording my collections began with starting to catalog the 300+ design books I have acquired since my high school senior year of 1974 - and that is still continuing. The ongoing spring cleaning of my home studio has required carefully dusting or cleaning many of my collectible items. While fresh and shiny, the inanimate objects have been pleased to pose (and many of them do look like they are posing) for my camera.

I'm never completely alone while working in my design studio. About 20 years ago I started collecting advertising character figures - beginning with Bob's Big Boy items. I've found items such as Snap, Crackle and Pop, Tony the Tiger, Sprout, Mr. Bubble,, Bibendum (The Michelin Man), Fred Fossil and many others in antique shops, at garage sales and flea markets, and on eBay. At one point my collecting got so out of control I was on a first name basis with the UPS man who was delivering my online purchases. The amassing of advertising characters came to a crawl when I ran out of room in my office. I think I have over 200 of the little figures. I'll eventually find out the size of collection as I continue the cleaning and mug shots.

Rather than just hoarding items for one's personal pleasure, I do think collections should be shared with others. Online sites such as Flickr and Facebook have provided me an opportunity to initially share small portions of the results of my habit. At this point 60 of my advertising characters and 28 sets of advertising-related salt and pepper shakers are getting a little public exposure. I've also started another advertising character album.

One of the interesting aspects of collecting is getting to learn the stories behind the collectible items. Many others share the collecting "bug' and have written about a wide variety of items gathering dust in people's homes and places of work. My collection of advertising characters has provided a great education about the company histories of the businesses and products represented, through books such as Meet Mr. Product, What a Character!, Advertising Character Collectibles and others. If you are collecting something, you can be sure that someone has written a book on the item.

As my cleaning, and archiving, frenzy continues I will post links to future galleries of collectible images. Have fun collecting out there!

(Images: Top - Mr. Bubble, 1990; Center - Millie & Willie, Kool Cigarettes, 1950's; Bottom: Nugget Sam, The Nugget Casino - Carson City, NV, 1950's)

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Identity Crisis! teaser No. 4

Here's another sneak peek at my upcoming book, Identity Crisis!: 50 redesigns that transformed stale identities into successful brands

The above is just one spread of the Vancouver Aquarium identity re-design and rebranding effort, submitted for the book project by the firm Subplot Design.

Upcoming Identity Crisis! blog entries will include lists of other contributors selected to appear in the book, more visual teasers and related book news. The book is off to the printer. Look for it on your bookstore shelves this fall.

Image: Copyright © 2007 Jeff Fisher • Used with permission of author and HOW Books, an imprint of F+W Publications, Inc.

© 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:

Feedback: Direct and Interactive Marketing
(Index Book - Spain)
No specific deadline posted
No entry fees charged

Symbols: Silhouettes - Icons - Pictograms
(Index Book - Spain)
No specific deadline posted
No entry fees charged

HOW Interactive Design Awards
(HOW Magazine - USA)
Deadline: Entries postmarked after July 16 require a late fee of $25 per entry. Entries postmarked after Aug. 1, 2007, will not be accepted.
Entry fees charged

1,000 Package Designs
(Rockport Publishers - USA)
Deadline Extended: August 15, 2007
No entry fees charged

Dynamic Graphics Re:Design Competition
(Dynamic Graphics - USA)
Extended Deadline: August 27, 2007
Entry fees charged

Creativity 37
(Creativity Annual Awards - USA)
Deadline Extended: August 31, 2007
Entry fees charged (Late fees apply)

The Pixel Awards
(Pixel Awards - USA)
Deadline: August 24, 2007
Entry fees charged

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

HOW International Design Awards
(HOW Magazine - USA)
Deadline: September 4, 2007
Entry fees charged

Print & Production Finishes for Sustainable Design
(Rotovision - UK)
Deadline: October 31, 2007
No entry fees charged

The Design Green Project
(Area of Design - USA)
Deadline: November 30, 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

Identity Crisis! teaser No. 3

The upcoming book Identity Crisis!: 50 redesigns that transformed stale identities into successful brands features 50 case studies of identity re-designs and rebranding with the application of the new business images. Projects showcased include "mom and pop" businesses, major corporations, educational facilities, nonprofit organizations, government agencies and more.

Design entities from around the world, from one-person operations to major industry firms, submitted work for possible inclusion in the book. With a series of Identity Crisis! blog entries I will announce the firms and projects that are included in the book. Each re-design is an Identity Crisis! chapter.

Here is the second group of ten re-design case studies included in the book, listed by project featured and firm responsible for the effort:

La Baguette
Paragon Integrated Marketing Communications • Salmiya, Kuwait

Enforme Interactive
Octavo Designs • Frederick, MD USA

Union Leasing
Brainforest, Inc. • Chicago, IL USA

Glitschka Studios
Glitschka Studios • Salem, OR USA

Buckfast Organic Bakery/Clive's
biz-R • Totnes, Devon, Great Britain

American Design Awards
Graphicwise, Inc. • Irvine, CA USA

Minturn Inn
b-design • San Diego, CA USA

MyBrand • Lisbon, Portugal

Sheridan's Frozen Lattes and Custard
(See sample layout)
Willoughby Design Group • Kansas City, MO USA

Belle Provence
John Silver Design• Bothell, WA USA

Over the next few weeks I will post additional contributors on Identity Crisis!, as well as other news and notes. The book is scheduled for an September release.

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Re-Design: Cooke Stationery Company

As an artistic kid growing up in Salem, Oregon I would often buy art and design supplies at the local retail institution Cooke Stationery Company. I also went to high school with the children of the family who owned the business. Many years after moving from Salem I was contacted by the third generation of owners to redesign the company's identity.

Over the years, since opening in the 1930’s, the Cooke Stationery Company had used a variety of identifying elements, but did not have one consistent logo for use in its marketing and promotion. The primary graphics used by the office supply and stationery store were a type treatment from the 30’s and a character illustration made up of an old-fashioned typewriter eraser, pencil, rubber bands, paper clips and a sheet of paper. These two graphics were seldom used together, giving the business a split personality.

When the owners began a process of restoring the historic façade of their Salem building, it was also time to give the company image a make-over – while maintaining a connection to its history and celebrating survival as a small business in a world of “big box” stores. One directive for the new logo was that it not look like a new logo. An updated, yet not too sophisticated, character illustration was created and framed in an oval with banners noting the date the company was founded. The result was strong solid, single image projected by a logo that seems as if it may have appeared when the store opened in 1935.

The Cooke Stationery Company identity has appeared in the Japanese book Logo World (from PIE Books) and Logos: From North to South America from Spanish publisher Index Book.

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

An artsy message for door-to-door salespeople

I detest door-to-door salespeople. Well, not necessarily the people themselves. Not all of them. In fact, I kind of feel sorry for these individuals facing greater rejection than a graphic designer trying to get more than their foot in the door at a design firm in a major metropolitan area. What a horrible job. Still, for me, such an interruption at my front door is an invasion of my very private personal space.

No, I will not put vinyl windows on the 1929 Portland bungalow my partner and I are constantly improving. The same goes for vinyl siding. If you would just look around, you might notice that I don't have a lawn than needs any maintenance. I will not be allowing someone in my home to do an "inventory" of our existing security system to determine if their product is better. I don't want to talk politics on my front porch with anyone. I will not be buying steaks out of the back of a pickup truck.

If God, or Jesus, showed up to talk religion at my doorstep I would be interested in a discussion. However, those "selling" religion door-to-door annoy the hell out of me - especially when the church they are representing is somewhat vocal in opinions about my "lifestyle." I'll admit, I do get a bit of pleasure in seeing the looks on the faces of such proselytizers when I tell them, "I'm sorry; my husband and I wouldn't be interested." Funny, they seldom return to our house. We must get crossed of the great master list somewhere.

I do not make contributions to representatives of any nonprofits who come knocking on my door. I have my personal causes and they get more than enough of my time, energy and money. I'm certainly not handing over any money to someone at my door for a cause I know nothing about. The "representative" of a major environmental organization once came a-knockin' at our door. He immediately launched into his spiel. I had to interrupt his well-practiced performance twice to tell him I wasn't interested. He looked at me with shock and asked, "You mean you don't care about the environment?"

OK, that was enough. I was already annoyed - now I was also pissed off. I literally shut the door in his face, walked to my PowerBook to look up the cause and I reported the twit to the national organization. The next day I got a very nice email apologizing for their former representative's behavior.

Neighborhood kids are a different story - these are small people we actually know - selling candy, wrapping paper, magazine subscriptions, sponsorships for walks and runs, and more. Their art, sports and field trip programs actually need and deserve our support. I'm sure every parent on the street has trained their kids to always hit up Jeff and Ed first.

Every since we moved from the "salesperson barricade' of a secure downtown loft building I have looked for a decent "No Solicitors" sign to hang next to our door. Most were not created by graphic designers - and certainly not for the personal taste of a graphic designer looking to purchase such a product.

I've considered creating one of my own, in some tasteful typeface - certainly something other than Comic Sans or Papyrus - on a frosted glass panel; framed in copper or a rusted patina metal. Right, like I've had the time recently to design and create such a thing.

Thursday night we were at the home of our friends Shawn Jones and Greg Coyle (and their daughter Lily - there might be hell to pay if I didn't mention her!) for their weekly Thursday evening poolside "happy hour." Shawn informed me that while on a recent road trip to California they had discovered my "placeholder" birthday gift. (My "real" birthday gift, recognizing my May birthdate, has yet to be presented - among our friends we have something like a year to get such things accomplished.) Knowing my feelings about all I've ranted about in this blog entry, they found a rusted, artistic, wrought iron "Go Away" sign (photo above) for me at a store in Red Bluff, CA. It even has swirls on it - a design element that reoccurs in much of our garden art and home decor.

I love it! Now I need to figure out how to mount it to the outside of the house so someone doesn't steal the thing. Then we'll see how it works in making life a bit more peaceful at our aubergine front door.

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Identity Crisis! teaser No. 2

The upcoming book Identity Crisis!: 50 redesigns that transformed stale identities into successful brands features 50 case studies of identity re-designs and rebranding with the application of the new business images. Projects showcased include "mom and pop" businesses, major corporations, educational facilities, nonprofit organizations, government agencies and more.

Design entities from around the world, from one-person operations to major industry firms, submitted work for possible inclusion in the book. With a series of Identity Crisis! blog entries I will announce the firms and projects that are included in the book. Each re-design is an Identity Crisis! chapter.

Here are the first ten re-design case studies included in the book, listed by project featured and firm responsible for the effort:

P.E.O. International Sisterhood
Sayles Graphic Design • Des Moines, IA USA

Toppers Pizza
Shine Advertising Co. • Madison, WI USA

Studio GT&P • Foligno (PG), Italy

RAM Digital
Octavo Designs • Frederick, MD USA

Brentwood Classics
3 Dogz Creative Inc. • Toronto, ONT Canada

Shared Ownership Homes
Common Sense Design • New Hamburg, ONT Canada

Atlas Economic Research Foundation
CC Graphic Design • Salt Lake City, UT USA

Fagerholm & Jefferson Law Corporation
Mayhem Studios • Los Angeles, CA USA

New Triad for Collaborative Arts
Finamore Design • Brooklyn, NY USA

VanderVeer Center
Jeff Fisher LogoMotives• Portland, OR USA

Over the next few weeks I will post additional contributors to Identity Crisis!, as well as other news and notes. The book is scheduled for September release.

(This entry originally appeared on the Identity Crisis! blog)

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

A great weekend in the Bay Area & Napa Valley

This past week my partner Ed and I treated ourselves to a long weekend and jetted down to Benicia, CA to spend a few days with my sister and her husband, AJ. The get-together was to celebrate Ed's April birthday, my May birthday, Sue's June 50th birthday, and Sue and AJ's recent wedding.

We always enjoy our visits to Benicia. We usually fly into Sacramento, and drive the 45-50 minutes to my sister's home, rather than flying into San Francisco and dealing with greater traffic. Benicia is a great small town, with lots of art galleries, excellent restaurants and artist studios. It's also just a short drive to the Napa and Sonoma wine areas.

On Friday evening, Sue and AJ took us out to dinner at the Pear Street Bistro in the nearby city of Pinole. They had previously eaten at the establishment after seeing it reviewed on an episode of the Check, Please! Bay Area television show. After having a very positive experience, Sue and AJ thought we would enjoy a meal at the restaurant - and they were right.

On Saturday the four of us had planned on spending the day in Napa, coming home for naps and then Ed was going to prepare a seven-course Italian feast for us all. Unfortunately, AJ got called into work at the last moment. Sue, Ed and I didn't let that stop us from heading up to Napa. Our first stop was for an incredible lunch on the grounds of the V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena. The Italian deli at the winery has over 200 different cheese, excellent cured meats, fresh bread and lots of other goodies. Lunch at a picnic table under a 200-year-old oak tree was a fun way to start our day.

After our meal, Sue suggested we stop by the Wine Country Inn to check things out. She and AJ got married on the grounds of the beautiful bed and breakfast this past April. While she and I were enjoying the view of the vineyards from the deck of the main building, Ed was pawing through the Inn's recipe files to see if he could find some items to make at a later date. We had a nice walk around the grounds and then it was time to head off to our primary destination.

My sister is a huge fan of the sparkling wines of the Schramsberg Vineyards. She's been to the winery, originally established by German immigrant Jacob Schram in 1862, on several occasions and always has a supply of their wines ready to be served at her home. We were on the schedule for a tour of the wine caves, carved from mountainside by Chinese laborers, and a tasting that afternoon.

If you didn't know where you were going you would probably drive right by the private road up to Schramsberg - and then the road is currently under construction making it a bit of a challenge to get up to the appointment- only winery. Rounding the final corner you immediately get a beautiful view of the Victorian home Jacob and Annie Schram had built by a ship builder (without the use of a single nail) in 1880. Being a gardener, I had an immediate appreciation for the grounds of the winery with its lush vegetation; pond with lily pads, frogs and koi; and the sculptures in the gardens.

In the visitors center we met Tom, who would be our guide for the tour of the winery and caves. He was soon giving us a fascinating Schramsberg history lesson, including the fact that Schramsberg sparkling wines have been served 72 times at the White House - most recently for the white tie dinner in honor of the state visit of Queen Elizabeth. Although I have visited many wineries, including others making sparkling wines, our guide's presentation on the classic méthode champenoise was very engaging and interesting. It's hard to believe that the earthquake-proof caves currently house 2.5 million bottles of sparkling Schramsberg (The large photo above is one of the walls of bottles of aging sparkling wine). The tour of the cool caves was especially enjoyable with the heat outdoors. The lessons in proper opening of a sparkling wine, and the proper serving temperature, were fun and educational.

The tastings, conducted by candlelight in the caves, were great. We were each given four good-sized flutes of the excellent selections of various Chardonnay-based Blanc de Blancs and Pinot Noir-based Reserve, Blanc de Noirs and Brut Rosé. Each was exceptional, and I now join my sister as a major fan of the Schramsberg Vineyards. Our experience at Schramsberg is one of the best I've had at any winery I've ever visited.

After the heat, the wine, and the long afternoon we decided it best to head back to Benicia for our naps before Ed needed to start preparing his seven course meal. When we arrived at the house, AJ had returned from work and he presented Ed a special gift bottle of Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon to be served with dinner - which had been delivered via FedEx earlier that morning.

We had a wonderful evening. Our meal began with an antipasti of Pizzeti con carciofi, salami and a selection of olives. The primi piatti was a Ribollita followed by Linguini al pesto. An amazing Chicken Parmigiana was our secondi, with a contorni of Spinachi con pinole e uva passa. The insalata mista prepared us for the final course. Our dolce was goat cheese turnovers with honey and pistachios - served with a properly chilled Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs 2001.

I do think it was the first time I had ever completed a dinner at 1:00 a.m.

(A few more photos of this trip are posted here)

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Design studio housecleaning - excavated artifact #11

Sorting through 30 years of files and boxes of old design projects is a major undertaking. I've been doing it for several months now and I've only made a small dent in the archives of my work. I'm also archiving old project floppy and zip disks as I dig through the stuff in my home-studio. Still, I guess that it's a good thing I seldom throw anything away.

The other day I was going through a box of old papers and came across a page of media contacts. Many of the names had been crossed out. Phone numbers were scribbled all over the page. I couldn't imagine why I might have saved the piece of paper. I turned it over and discovered numerous phone messages, obviously transcribed from my old answering machine. There were some other messy mindless sketches at the top of the page. Doodled at the bottom was the image of a television set, a micro- phone and a newspaper - the beginnings of one of my favorite initial logo efforts.

In the early 90's I started doing contract design work for an independent public relations and marketing specialist by the name of Denny Shleifer. Shortly after starting our business relationship, he asked if I could design a new logo for his business - something that was more dynamic and fun than the image he was using at the time. Shleifer brought an energy to his work that I hadn't experienced in many people in his industry and he was a great deal of fun to be around.

The doodle above, surrounded by other notes, was obviously done while I was on the phone with someone else. The black ink of the drawing matches some other notations. It immediately captured the persona of Denny Shleifer.

Once in a while there are those logo concepts that I just know will be the identity to represent the client. This was one of those situations. I remember showing Shleifer the final concept and he responded with "Wow, this is me!"

The design provided me additional confidence in my logo design abilities when it was selected to be included in the Rockport Publishers book Letterhead & Logo Design 4. Years later it was featured in The Best of Letterhead & Logo Design.

In 1995 Shleifer incorporated his business and changed the official name to Shleifer Marketing Communications, Inc. The altered name required a few adjustments in the logo. I unsuccessfully tried to convince my client that "Inc." did not need to be in the new image. Still, it didn't seem to be too distracting in the revised identity.

The new Shleifer logo got additional exposure in the books International Logos & Trademarks 4, Letterhead & Logo Design 5, More Logos & Letterheads, and the Japanese offerings New Logo & Trademark Design and Logo & Trademark Collection.

In previous bLog-oMotives entries I took a look back at excavated artifacts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10.

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

The W.O.W. of Identity Crisis!

In writing the book Identity Crisis!: 50 redesigns that transformed stale identities into successful brands I asked a variety of design professionals to contribute their "Words of Wisdom" (W.O.W.) about the process of redesigning a business or organization identity. Many were very gracious in contributing personal advice based on their past experiences.

The individuals providing input for the book included:

• Sean Adams of AdamsMorioka, Inc.

• Bob Domenz from Avenue - Marketing & Communications

• Tony Spaeth of identityworks

• Debbie Millman - known for her Design Matters podcasts (and many other things)

• Jack Yan of Jack Yan & Associates

Robin Landa, author and branding & creative strategist

• Robynne Raye from Modern Dog Design Co.

• Mark E. Sackett of Reflectur

• ...and some guy named Jeff Fisher who writes about whatever seems to be on his mind at bLog-oMotives when he isn't running his own firm, Jeff Fisher LogoMotives.

All presented incredibly valuable advice to the design professional involved in identity re-design - and to the client having an "identity crisis." Unfortunately, you will need to wait until HOW Design Books releases Identity Crisis! in the fall of this year before you are able to take advantage of the great suggestions.

Keep up on the latest news about my upcoming book at my Identity Crisis! blog - where this post originally appeared.

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

This is war! - Gardening nut vs. squirrel

Gardening is a passion - and my therapy. Nothing is better for getting the old creative juices flowing than to spend a few hours out playing the dirt. Once I'm away from the computer, the design "brain farts" seem to come at me from all directions. The added result of my therapy sessions is our home being referred to by many in North Portland with the comment, "Oh, you live in the house with THE garden." With help from our friends at Joy Creek Nursery our garden does literally stop traffic on the street in front of our house.

Since moving into the house, my partner Ed and I have been engaged in an on-going battle with the neighborhood squirrels. They tease us from the trees, fence and rooftops - and have been known to drop pinecones and other items on us as we walk outside. In fact, last night - while we were having dinner on the patio, a squirrel dropped a pinecone from a tree and it bounced off the patio table umbrella into Ed's lap. You could hear the creature laughing from above. One morning I looked out the window, while on the phone with Ed, to see two of the critters on the peak of our garden shed roof taking part in a mating activity that made it look as if we had a live animal whirly-gig. The varmints plant walnuts and acorns in my flower beds, and move bulbs wherever they wish. We have noisy squirrel races from our garage, to the dogwood tree, and with a flying leap continuing across the roof of the house on a path to the neighborhood park full of tall evergreen trees. Ed refers to it as the "squirrel freeway."

We do attempt to fight back - or at least tease the furry little beasts. Ed chatters right back, chases them with the garden hose at full blast, and shakes the dogwood tree in some kind of game he has with the squirrels. A couple of them will make all kinds of noise until Ed comes out in the backyard garden to play with them. This summer we have yet to get out the "super soakers" for squirrel target practice as they zip back and forth on the top of the fence bordering the back of our property.

I will admit I now get a great deal of pleasure repeatedly seeing distraught, confused squirrels, standing on their haunches on the new paver patio, looking all around for the lawn in which nuts had been buried the previous year. They kind of have an "Oh, my God - what's happened here? I know I buried the stash in this location" kind of look on their faces.

Ed proclaims to all that he hates the squirrels. However, truth be told, earlier this year he actually nursed one back to health. One night he arrived home from work, walked in the house and told me I had better shut the garage if door I didn't want a "furry rodent" setting up home in it. Closer inspection revealed that the young squirrel in question was injured, as if it had fallen from a tree. A bit later I ran into Ed as he headed out the back door with a dish of water, a couple small carrots and a handful of walnut halves. He was going to feed the thing!!! It had taken up refuge in a basement window well and for several days Ed made sure it was cared for properly. The next weekend we took a trip out of town and, upon our return, our new little patient had moved on. Ed has since told me he's seen the squirrel, with its unusual facial markings, around the garden.

Our squirrel situation has not gone unnoticed by friends. One in particular, Brett - the "evil devil pig friend from hell," has taken a great deal of joy in our squirrel battles. For several years we've received all kinds of lovely squirrel-related gifts that he has found at garage sales and thrift stores. A few years ago he started leaving little plastic squirrel statuary artistically located in our garden when we were out of town. Over the years I've left them in place - although I could only find four of them this morning to photograph for this bLog-oMotives entry.

Visitors always ask about the tiny garden ornaments and I have to tell the whole "evil devil pig friend from hell" story. I hadn't even thought about the plastic squirrels when Mike Darcy came to shoot an episode of his television show, In The Garden, in our garden. Of course, he zeroed in on the fake critters and an explanation was required.

This whole long story has been necessary to explain why I have declared war on the squirrels this Independence Day.

Four times in the last ten days I have walked outside to one of the plastic squirrels laying on its side on the driveway or paver path to the front porch. I think one of the local squirrels is trying to "violate' its counterpart of the resin variety. My drip water line has also been yanked out of the flower bed on each occasion, as has a poor battered Saxifraga umbrosa 'Variegata'. Compost is always scattered everywhere. It happened again this morning (see photo at top of blog entry) - and now I'm ticked off.

I repositioned the drip line and secured it with metal prongs. The soil was put back in place and a new Saxifraga replaced the now dead previous plant. My little plastic squirrel was put back where he belongs - and I then sprinkled cayenne pepper powder all around the area.

That should light up the damn squirrel's Fourth of July if he tries any funny stuff. Let the games begin...

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Identity Crisis! teaser No. 1

Here's the first sneak peek at my upcoming book, Identity Crisis!: 50 redesigns that transformed stale identities into successful brands

The above is just one spread of the Sheridan's Lattes and Frozen Custard identity re-design submission from the folks at Willoughby Design Group.

Future Identity Crisis! blog entries will include lists of other contributors selected to appear in the book, more visual teasers and related book news. The book is off to the printer. Look for it on your bookstore shelves later this year.

Image: Copyright © 2007 Jeff Fisher • Used with permission of author and HOW Books, an imprint of F+W Publications, Inc.