Jeff Fisher has a real "identity crisis!" in Chicago

Ever since my book, Identity Crisis!: 50 redesigns that transformed stale identities into successful brands was released last fall I have used the line "Jeff Fisher is having an Identity Crisis!" to market and promote the thing. I never expected that I would actually have a real "identity crisis" of any kind. Well, after several days in Chicago at the Hyatt Regency Hotel - where I was the closing speaker at the Creative Freelancer Conference - I was preparing to head to the airport and I had a major identity crisis!

I couldn't find my ID. My driver's license was missing

It was about 6:00 AM. I'd almost completed packing all my bags. I had plenty of time to take a relaxing shower, go grab something to eat and a latte, and be ready for the airport shuttle to pick me at 7:30. All I needed to do was print out my boarding pass, get my identification in order and I'd have plenty of extra time at O'Hare International Airport before my 10:30 flight home to Portland.

When I went to get my driver's license it was not where it should have been. I immediately grabbed the pants I'd worn the night before when I'd gone out to dinner. No license. Not yet panicking, I went through the pockets of any pants or shirts I'd worn during the conference. No license. I started to sweat a little as I pawed my way through the stack of business cards I had collected from conference attendees, speakers and vendors. No license.

OK, time to panic! I unpacked everything that had moments earlier been neatly packed. I went through everything - twice. No license. I even went through the waste paper basket. No license.

Then, I remembered the last time I'd had the license in my hand. I was at Macy's - in the great old State Street Marshall Field's location - buying a shirt. Because I didn't have my Macy's card with me, and qualified for an 11% sales tax exemption discount, the sales clerk had taken my license, placing it on his computer keyboard as he entered the necessary information. I don't remember him ever giving it back. A quick online search showed that Macy's would not be open until 10:00. Damn!

By this time, it was almost 7:00 a.m. Chicago time and I didn't have a clue what I should do. I decided to call my partner Ed in Portland and see if he had any brilliant ideas. Not that I really thought he'd be happy to hear from me at 5:00 AM on a Saturday morning in Portland. The answering machine picked up the phone and I started leaving my message. A groggy Ed then answered the phone and I told him what had happened. He suggested that he could scan my passport and email the file to me as a possible helpful piece of identification. Before we hung up I said I'd call him if I did not make it onto my plane.

It was then I thought I would call the hotel front desk and check on what I considered a very slight chance that I'd lost my ID in the facility. The woman who answered told me that she would page the assistant manager of the hotel. When I spoke to hotel assistant manager Scott Penny, he said there was nothing in the hotel lost and found. He suggested that he could write a letter on hotel stationery stating that I had been a guest and was who I said I was. He mentioned that he had worked for the airlines and what I needed was some kind of official documentation verifying that I had lost my ID. He told me he'd call the Chicago Police Department and get back to me.

My partner then called back to tell me he'd emailed the scanned image of my passport. He'd also talked to the front desk and I could print out the passport image and my boarding pass when the hotel's business services center opened at 8:00 AM.

I could hear a clock ticking in my head.

The hotel assistant manager then called back to tell me the police had suggested I get to a nearby station and file a police report on my lost ID so I would have an official document with me. As we talked he did an online search and told me that the nearest police station was 2.7 miles from the hotel - a short cab ride away. His letter would be ready for me at the hotel's Guest Services desk when I returned.

I ran to the shower, quickly rinsed off, got dressed and headed downstairs to catch a cab. The hotel doorman kind of gave me an odd look when I said I needed to go to the police station at a given address.

In the cab, I suddenly realized how ridiculous this whole situation was and kind of laughed to myself. I didn't know where the hell I was in Chicago. I had no ID with me saying who I was except for my boarding pass from my Portland to Chicago flight with my full name of James Jeffrey Fisher, my American Express card with my business name, and a "Jeff Fisher is having an Identity Crisis!" promotional postcard (below) - the only thing I had with a photo of myself.

At the 18th District - Near North police station everyone could not have been nicer. The officer at the desk asked a variety of questions, even attempted to place a call to Macy's with no answer, and then was having some difficulty with the computer (clock ticking in my head) as he tried to complete the police report. A female officer stepped in, saying it "took a woman to do the job properly," and had better luck with the computer. When the original officer handed me the completed paperwork he smiled and said, "Try not to lose this."

I then stood on a street corner for what seemed like forever (tick! tock!) waiting to hail a cab. One finally came by and it was back to the Hyatt Regency. As the cab came to a stop at the front door the doorman from earlier opened the door and said, "Welcome back to the hotel, sir."

I ran up the escalator to the Guest Services desk to retrieve the letter the hotel assistant manager had written. With the envelope in hand, I headed back up to my room. It was 8:45 when I walked in the room - over an hour past the time my shuttle was to have picked me up. By this time I wasn't really worried about making my flight - I was just hoping to get on any plane out of Chicago.

I went online to print out my boarding pass and saw that upgrades were still available on my flight. After all I'd gone through I felt I deserved First Class, so I cashed in 15,000 miles for the upgrade. I downloaded the boarding pass as a PDF, saved the scan of my passport from Ed to my hard drive, and loaded both onto a blank CD I had in my "portable office."

I then went downstairs to the lobby to do a quick kiosk checkout. Four sets of escalators later I arrived at business services center, where I quickly printed out the two documents from the CD. Then it was back upstairs and across the street to where the airport shuttles stopped every 15 minutes. As I walked up to the stop, I asked a bellman when the next shuttle would arrive. He replied, "You just missed one, The next shuttle will be here in 15 minutes." (TICK! TOCK!)

My shuttle left the Hyatt Regency at 9:16. After one additional stop we were on our way to O'Hare. Luckily, there was very little traffic on a Saturday morning.

As I was dropped off at the United terminal, I realized that without thinking about it earlier at all, my First Class upgrade would allow me to avoid the long line to the check-in counter. I walked up to the open station and spread my boarding pass, hotel letter, police report and passport printout on the counter. The agent at the counter looked at everything, then at me, and said, "Everything will be OK." It was 9:45.

She explained that she was putting a priority tag on my checked bag and that it would be searched by the TSA. While dealing with my bag, she told me I would have both of my carry-on bags searched and that I would be searched personally before being allowed through security. She pointed out that I would be going through priority security - right next to her desk - and as I walked away she said, "The rest of your day will only be better."

I had my doubts due to some past TSA experiences in some of my least favorite airports around the country. My fears were put to rest by incredibly pleasant and polite TSA representatives. Still, everything seemed to be taking frickin' forever. (TICK! TOCK!). A couple ahead of me were having similar issues - the husband's driver's license had been taken from him when he'd received a traffic ticket in Chicago. Finally multiple TSA staffers began to deal with the three of us. After looking over the result of my morning of document gathering, a TSA guy asked if I had a credit card with my full legal name on it. Of course, the only thing I had was an insurance card that was not acceptable. I explained that I don't go by my legal name, so everything makes use of the name Jeff Fisher.

The conversing TSA people then pointed out that my flight was to leave at 10:31 from the gate directly across the hall from where I was waiting to processed. I was then asked to sign a document that I didn't even read, providing a home address and home phone number. I suppose I signed my life away. After that, a female TSA representative made a phone call to who knows what government agency, relaying as much information about me as she had on the paper in her hand. I was asked how long I had lived at my current address and I told her. She then asked for the street name of my previous address and I told her. She then asked "Do you go buy any name other than your legal name?"

Hmmm...hadn't we already dealt with that issue?

She then got off the phone and said I was cleared to proceed through security. I was patted down thoroughly. My bags were all searched and swabbed. I quickly put on my belt and shoes, got my bags put back together and hurried across the hall - to a closed jetway door at my gate. It was 10:30. Just then the door opened and a United agent took my boarding pass from my hand. As she scanned it she commented, "We wondered where you were."

As I sat down in seat 1A I couldn't believe that I had actually made it onto my flight. The flight attendant came over and asked, "May I get you something to drink?"

Silly question.

My morning may have been a less than ideal experience. However, everyone along the way - hotel assistant manager Scott Penny, the Chicago Police Department, two cab drivers, the man running the hotel business services center, the shuttle driver, the woman at the United Airlines counter (I wish I'd gotten her name), and even all the TSA employees - could not have been more helpful and pleasant to me throughout the morning. Thanks to everyone who helped me out in getting home.

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Resources from "Reaping the Rewards" at the
Creative Freelancer Conference in Chicago

As a speaker, I had a great time at the Creative Freelancer Conference. It was incredible sitting in on the presentations of the other presenters, meeting so many of the participants in person, having the opportunity to answer so many of your questions on a one-to-one basis, and getting to review some great design and photography work.

In the course of my presentation "Reaping the Rewards of Creative Independence," and my "Marketing Through Social Networking" roundtable, many Creative Freelancer Conference attendees requested additional information. I mentioned I would make links to those resources available.

Many people requested the handout I created for the social networking roundtable. That information is available in my blogfolio post "Marketing through social networks & social media."

I was also asked about the online portfolios I use to market my identity design work. That information may be found in the article "Marketing logo design efforts with online resources." The marketing packet I send out to potential clients is described in the entry "Prepare for any marketing or promotion opportunity with a customizable "media kit."

A few of you requested a copy of my project agreement - which includes the wording of the rights clause I include to ensure I can use all work for self-promotion purposes. The text of my contract is detailed in the piece "Signing on the dotted line…"

StartupNation and biznik were the two general business networking sites I discussed in my presentation. "Real world" networking events are a possibility in your local area as a result of biznik, if there are enough nearby members. The organization for creatives working for, or with, colleges is the University and College Designers Association.

About every 30-45 days I post an updated list of design industry competitions and book submission calls-for-entries on bLog-oMotives.

I did have questions about my personal Facebook presence and my Jeff Fisher LogoMotives Facebook Page. These are two different entities - and any Facebook member may have a personal profile and a business Page.

A review of previous bLog-oMotives entries about the Creative Freelancer Conference will also provide information covered in my presentation.

Several people asked about any upcoming speaking engagements I may have on my schedule. On Monday, October 13, 2008, I will be making a presentation on self-promotion at the Create Chaos 2008 event in Orlando, FL. I will be conducting a day-long workshop on identity design on Thursday, October 16, 2008, at the School of Visual Concepts in Seattle, WA.

I hope that all attendees got a great deal of value out of the Creative Freelance Conference. I really appreciate all the feedback I have received in the form of emails, posts on forums and other sites, and in person from those participating in my roundtable and attending my session. Thanks also for the many positive comments about my books, blogs and forum postings.

I would like to thank my friends Ilise Benun and Peleg Top of Marketing Mentor, the entire staff of HOW Magazine, my new unimaginary friend Colleen Wainwright (aka "the communicatrix"), all the other speakers and the conference sponsors, for putting on a really great creative industry event.

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Vote for Jeff Fisher LogoMotives in the
2008 StartupNation Home-Based 100

The second annual StartupNation Home-Based 100, celebrating America’s most outstanding home-based businesses and the people behind them, will once again rank the best businesses operated from home in ten distinct categories.

Jeff Fisher LogoMotives is a candidate in the “Most Slacker Friendly” category. The description of the “slacker friendly” category reads:

Does your business offer a day-to-day existence that’s the envy of all? If you’ve beaten the system with a "lifestyle" business, this one’s for you!

Those words made it very clear which category I should enter. Cast your vote now for my business on the Jeff Fisher LogoMotives competition page. You may vote daily throughout the course of the competition. Be sure to share my quest to be one of the StartupNation Home-Based 100 with others.

If you are a home-based business owner, you may want to consider registering your business in the competition, too. Businesses can by submitted until midnight Pacific Time on September 30, 2008. Throughout October, candidates will be judged by StartupNation and a panel of judges who are each passionate about home-based business and the Top Ten categories highlighted in this year’s competition. Winners will be announced in mid-November, 2008.

StartupNation is a free online business resource founded by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. On the site, you’ll find all the easy-to-follow, practical information you could ever need to start and grow your own successful business.

Thank you for your support!

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Send some LUV to "the communicatrix"

Colleen Wainwright (aka "the communicatrix") has blogged about Jeff Fisher LogoMotives on occasion. She's included mentions of my business in various locales in the unreal world of the Internet. We've kind of developed a "mutual admiration society" - without ever meeting in person.

Meeting such online friends is the theme of the video she has posted online in her quest to become Southwest Airline's Blog-O-Spondent. If she gets the gig, Southwest will help her in her quest to meet some of the "imaginary friends" she has around the country. Check out the "old broad's" video and give her a vote with the "UP" thingy so she has a shot at getting a somewhat "real" job. (What's with people giving her fun video submission "down" votes?) I love the BF's ukulele soundtrack for the clip.

If she does win the job, she won't need to hop on a plane to Portland for the two of us to meet. I'll be jetting to Chicago tomorrow to speak at the Creative Freelancer Conference and she will be at the event. I'm looking forward to one of my "imaginary friends" becoming very real.

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Before and after logo designs: Part IV

The majority of my recent identity design projects have been redesigns of existing logos. Over the years I have been contracted many times to update or makeover the logos of businesses and organizations. My "before & after" images of such projects get a great deal of attention in my marketing packets and through previous blog entries focusing on redesign efforts. I thought I would create a series of bLog-oMotives visual entries showcasing some of the examples - with links to previous posts offering project explanations and anecdotes - allowing bLog-oMotives readers to easily review some of the past featured designs.

Holocaust Remembrance Project • Tampa, FL (Read more)

Cooke Stationery Company • Salem, OR (Read more)

The Sentinel • Portland, OR (Read more)

Oregon Department of Forestry • Salem, OR (Read more)

B.A.S.I.C. • Portland Trail Blazers • Portland, OR (Read more)

Check out previous "before and after" posts on bLog-oMotives.

(Note: My book, Identity Crisis!: 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities Into Successful Brands, contains case studies from 35 designers and firms located around the world. Learn more about the book on the Identity Crisis! blog.)

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Goodreads - social networking for authors and readers

Goodreads is a great social networking site for readers and authors, offering so much more than just the opportunity to connect with others around the world.

As explained on the Goodreads site:

Goodreads is a free website for book lovers. Imagine it as a large library that you can wander through and see everyone's bookshelves, their reviews, and their ratings. You can also post your own reviews and catalog of what you have read, are currently reading, and plan to read in the future. Don’t stop there – join a discussion group, start a book club, contact an author, and even post your own writing.

As the author of Identity Crisis!: 50 redesigns that transformed stale identities into successful brands, Goodreads provides yet another marketing tool for my book with my own author's page. Authors can post a detailed biography, make note of upcoming book-related events, share writings or book excerpts, participate in discussion groups, and promote their own books.

Anyone with a passion for books - and an interest in finding out what others are reading (and writing) - should give Goodreads a look.

(Note: I have added Goodreads to my previous list of social networking/media sites I use for marketing and promotion purposes.)

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Apartment Therapy flowers praise on umbrella stand

The site Apartment Therapy has taken notice of my recent bLog-oMotives piece about making the umbrella stand for my garden. They've posted their own entry How To: Make a Flowering Outdoor Umbrella Stand. Thanks!

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Never tell a potential client: "Your logo sucks!"

The one piece of advice readers seem to be taking away from my book, Identity Crisis!: 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities Into Successful Brands, is that you should "never tell a potential client that their current logo sucks." In the volume's introduction I write:

"In doing so, you can almost guarantee that the client, a family member of the client, or the individual with whom you are dealing played a major role in creating the current image. This seems to hold true whether the client is a one-person home-based business or a large corporation. Making such an insensitive introductory remark is not the best way to start the sometimes long collaborative process of putting the best new face on a client's business or organization."

Most designers have found themselves in the position of needing to deal with a less than stellar logo when it comes to designing marketing materials, a print ad, a new website or some other promotional material. It may be difficult to keep oneself from blurting out, "Your logo sucks!" In additional to conveying a more tactful message, the designer must take into consideration the emotional and historical perspective of the identity - for the business owner, employees and client base. Another major concern for the client will be the financial investment of having a new identity created and then having it implemented as a complete brand.

I'm always somewhat amazed when designers mention that, as a marketing tactic, they plan to approach a local business or organization to tell them their existing logo or website is "bad" - and that their own design talent and ability is the solution for the now potentially insulted business owner or manager. The designers also expect that ambushing the potential client with rough or finalized design concepts - without any prior information-gathering from the business or organization in question - will be met with open arms. Again, the potential for offending the possible future client may be great.

In addition, the designer will have invested a great deal of time in producing what is little more than another form of speculative work. Perhaps one of the greatest dangers in attempting to "sell" such a completed proposal or concept to an entity is that the business representative will not see the true value in work that is already completed. In the end, the designer may be cheating themselves out of time and income that can not be recovered, while also creating designed work that may not best serve the requirements and desires of the potential client.

It's best to approach such potential clients, or the in-house boss, through the initiation of a positive dialogue of possibilities. Occasionally, great opportunities to begin that process may be presented by a business or organization. Recent discussions with clients of mine, in regards to new identities, have come out of the following:

• A business moving to a new location - which immediately requires the redesign or updating of everything for the business; from business cards to website.

• A possible major capital expenditure - the remodeling of an office, need for new signage, purchase of new company vehicles, or potential website design may prod "the powers that be" to take a new look at all aspects of the corporate identity.

• A major business anniversary - taking a look back at a company history often initiates the discussion of the future of the business image.

• Actual changes in the business operations and/or scope - a publication client recently expanded the geographic area they serve, and changed the page size of the paper, which brought about a major redesign need.

• Changes in management or staff - a long-time owner, or management person, leaving the firm - or the hiring of new marketing or administrative staff - can "jump start" the redesign of a company's brand.

• A specific need for a new promotion or advertising piece - the investment in a major marketing brochure or print ad may bring about the re-evaluation of an identity.

• Simply having the time and opportunity - with the economic downturn several clients have found the time to take on redesigning the business identity.

• The realization that an identity is "tired" - every once in a while a client surprises me and, out of the blue, suggests that a business identity facelift may be needed.

Designers should make themselves aware of such opportunities with clients, potential clients or employers - and be ready to react. Have a finely-tuned online or physical portfolio in place to showcase your capabilities, a marketing packet or proposal ready to present, and questions prepared to begin the discussion about the future of the entities identity and marketing. Queries need to be worded in such a way as to not put the business decision-maker on the defensive. Some possible questions might include:

• What is the significance of the logo design and how does it represent your business?

• What is the history of your business identity and its creation?

• Does your current logo best identify and represent your business in reaching your target market?

• With the creation of a new website in the works (or any of the possible scenarios listed above), is it time to review the impact and effectiveness of your business identity?

• Is the current image the logo that you hope to have represent your company for up to decade?

Of course, there are many other questions you might want to ask. Again, once you have a signed agreement for the redesign project, remember to reflect on the emotional and historical perspective of the identity in question.

The emotions around a logo, whether a client did it themselves or not, can be very strong. I just completed the identity for a business, that had made use of a less than ideal logo for over two decades, where there was an understanding that the logo wasn't going to be touched until the founder was no longer involved in day-to-day operations. He had designed the original logo himself. After a very productive identity design process the only historical aspect of the logo retained was the original color.

Another potential client is having difficulty moving forward on an identity redesign due to the emotional attachment to a logo the founder created almost 20 years ago. I provided them with my marketing materials, a number of before and after case studies, and a copy of my book, Identity Crisis!. The message I've repeatedly stressed to the founder is that an identity redesign does not necessarily require tossing out all graphic references to the history of the organization - but the identity should be updated as they move into a new facility.

Do remember that the re-design of any business or organization identity usually requires a fairly decent financial investment for the client - the cost of the logo itself, the design and printing of a stationery package and all marketing/advertising materials, the creation of new signage, and so much more. Hesitancy, on the part of a client, to dive into a total rebranding may be due to financial considerations above and beyond the actual cost of having a logo designed.

Identity redesign projects do not need to be painful for designer or client. In many cases, a designer needs to realize they should not necessarily be putting their personal "mark" on the business or organization, but rather working in collaboration with the client to produce the best solution for extending the life, recognition and success of the identity being addressed.

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Design studio housecleaning - excavated artifact #20

The design studio housecleaning continues...and I have another excavated artifact to share.

Early in the summer of 1989 I was contacted by Cascade AIDS Project (CAP) to create a logo for "From All Walks of Life," the third annual AIDS pledge walk to benefit AIDS care and education in Portland, OR. In my first doodle (below left), done in red ink pen for some unknown reason, I envisioned a variety of oversized shoes containing some of the recognizable buildings in downtown Portland.

That original concept then evolved into an illustration executed with a rapidiograph pen, making use of some polka dot Zipatone film pattern and Liquid Paper for a little cleanup (above middle). A cowboy boot - with a stitched rose, a ruby red high heel, a oxford brogue, a hiking boot, a high top tennis shoe and a ballet slipper were represented in the artwork. Within some of the shoes rested the now iconic Portland Building, the KOIN Center, what was then the First Interstate Building, and the US Bancorp Tower (also known a "Big Pink").

The rough logo design concept presented to CAP as a color copy (above right) showed the artwork, with a possible treatment indicated in color pencil, surrounded by the proposed placement of the needed text. The type seems somewhat poorly laid out, and difficult to read, in the pre-computer transfer lettering font Latino.

The final design (above) made use of another font in an arch-like treatment, with the tagline beneath the illustration. Reviewing the design now, the type treatment of the event name looks kind of clunky and awkward. It appears to be a bit 1980's-ish - which it is...

Note: The Cascade AIDS Project is still an active organization today. In fact, the 22nd annual AIDS Walk Portland will be held Sunday, October 12, 2008.

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Before and after logo designs: Part III

The majority of my recent identity design projects have been redesigns of existing logos. Over the years I have been contracted many times to update or makeover the logos of businesses and organizations. My "before & after" images of such projects get a great deal of attention in my marketing packets and through previous blog entries focusing on redesign efforts. I thought I would create a series of bLog-oMotives visual entries showcasing some of the examples - with links to previous posts offering project explanations and anecdotes - allowing bLog-oMotives readers to easily review some of the past featured designs.

Lampros Steel • Portland, OR (Read more)

Shleifer Marketing Communications, Inc. • Lake Oswego/Portland, OR (Read more)

Laugh Lover's Ball • Seattle, WA (Read more)

Valley Catholic High School • Beaverton, OR (Read more)

Hospice of Humboldt • Eureka, CA (Read more)

Check out previous "before and after" posts on bLog-oMotives.

(Note: My book, Identity Crisis!: 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities Into Successful Brands, contains case studies from 35 designers and firms located around the world. Learn more about the book on the Identity Crisis! blog.)

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Creative, battery-recharging, vacations
are a necessity - not a luxury

A large part of "Reaping the Rewards of Creative Independence" involves creating a well-defined balance in one's life. There does seem to be a tendency for independent creative professionals to work around the clock - especially when lots of work is coming in the door. As self-employed individuals, designers, writers, photographers and illustrators are not, for the most part, getting paid when not working. How does that situation allow for much needed vacations?

Vacations are not a luxury reserved for corporate cubicle inhibitors with great benefit packages. Annual holidays are a necessity for all workers. They are a time to share with loved ones and friends, reflect on past ups and downs in business, plan for the future of one's career, read a few good books, visit exotic locales and recharge one's "batteries."

Such escapes from the world of business do require advance planning - and occasional client hand-holding prior to the actual trip.

Nearly a decade ago, my partner, eight friends and I rented a 300-year-old villa in Italy for a month. The trip itself took a great deal of tactical scheduling. From a business perspective some financial planning was necessary to make everything happen without breaking the bank. A great deal of client "baby sitting" was required to prepare them for the fact I was going to be gone for just over 30 days. Project, marketing and advertising schedules needed to be coordinated around the dates of my adventure. For several months in advance it was necessary to remind my clients, on a weekly basis, of my impending departure. All of the early planning, and very agreeable clients, made the situation work out well. There were no major client emergencies or disasters. The world, and my design business, did not come to an end.

While abroad, I did make use of Internet cafes to check on emails that may not have been addressed by my simple automatic "out of office" reply. Very few required my immediate attention throughout the month-long vacation. Traveling with a gaggle of friends who owned businesses created a unique "business incubator" aspect to the trip. Being surrounded by the artistic, cultural and scenic beauty of Italy was the electric charge my creative juices needed to have a "jump start." My accountant even felt that a portion of my travel expenses qualified for consideration as legitimate "research and development" tax deductions. I returned to my design business refreshed and with a redirected sense of purpose.

With proof that being away from my home-studio for a month was possible, shorter trips (usually about two weeks) have become a regular occurrence at least twice a year over the past 10 years. There are most often opportunities each year to run away from home to a tropical locale, an overseas destination and several domestic getaway sites. Clients have learned I am not abandoning them. Projects are dealt with prior to my trips or scheduled around the dates. I do often inform clients that I will not be working on their projects a couple days prior to my leaving. With worldwide Internet access, crashing emergencies may be dealt with if necessary.

Of course, running my own business does also allow me to adjust the meeting of any business needs while on the road (or beach, or hammock, or pool lounge…). While residing in a Tuscan farmhouse last fall, I did allow myself daily early morning time to work cyberly on the promotion of my then soon-to-be released book, Identity Crisis! Each morning I would arise one to two hours earlier than my traveling partners and do the work I felt was required. I'd then prepare coffee as my partner and friends began to stumble downstairs. Our vacation time for the day would begin - without me being stressed about upcoming book promotion issues.

Just prior to leaving for the island of St. Croix this spring, I received a request for what appeared to be a fun identity project - with a fairly tight deadline. I explained to the potential client that I was leaving for two weeks. The organization representative responded that they really felt I was the designer to take on their project. I proposed accepting the contract to design the logo by putting in one or two hours of time each morning, prior to heading out to the pool with my pleasure reading book 'o the day. The client agreed, the effort worked out very well for all concerned, and I completely paid for my vacation by working while on vacation. This particular situation was another example of it being my business and I get to set the rules.

Most "independent creative professionals" take on that self-definition to embrace "creative independence." Still, some restrict themselves by using their business as an excuse for not enjoying their personal lives to the fullest by eliminating vacation travel as an option. Vacations are a must for any creative professional - and such trips can often be much less expensive than years of therapy!

This piece was originally posted on the Creative Freelancer Conference blog. Jeff Fisher, the Engineer of Creative Identity for Jeff Fisher LogoMotives, will make his presentation "Reaping the Rewards of Creative Independence" at the Creative Freelancer Conference, to be held August 27-29, 2008 in Chicago.

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Become a Jeff Fisher LogoMotives fan on Facebook

Not long ago I wrote blog entries on marketing one's design (or writing) efforts by way of social media/networking sites and online portfolios. Since then I've expanded my Facebook presence with a Page devoted to Jeff Fisher LogoMotives. Now my "peeps," friends, peers, clients and stalkers ("Jeff Fisher! Jeff Fisher!") can become official fans by way of the Jeff Fisher LogoMotives Page.

The page features photo galleries of my work, notifications of upcoming speaking engagements, a feed of posts from the Jeff Fisher LogoMotives blogfolio and more. I hope you'll stop by and take a look at yet another marketing and promotion vehicle.

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

'Identity Crisis!' to be available at first
Creative Freelancer Conference

While there will not be an official bookstore at the Creative Freelancer Conference - to be held August 27-29 at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago - the book Identity Crisis!: 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities Into Successful Brands will be available at the event registration desk. Author Jeff Fisher, the Engineer of Creative Identity for the Portland-based firm Jeff Fisher LogoMotives, will be the closing speaker for the conference with his session, "Reaping the Rewards of Creative Independence." He will also be autographing copies of the book throughout the industry activity.

The Creative Freelancer Conference, co-sponsored by HOW Magazine and Marketing Mentor, will provide independent designers, illustrators, copywriters, photographers and others with pricing strategies, marketing techniques and the best business practices for running a one-person business.

Those interested in the new event may learn more on the Creative Freelancer Conference Blog. Additional information, and registration, is available on the Creative Freelancer Conference website.

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Before and after logo designs: Part II

The majority of my recent identity design projects have been redesigns of existing logos. Over the years I have been contracted many times to update or makeover the logos of businesses and organizations. My "before & after" images of such projects get a great deal of attention in my marketing packets and through previous blog entries focusing on redesign efforts. I thought I would create a series of bLog-oMotives visual entries showcasing some of the examples - with links to previous posts offering project explanations and anecdotes - allowing bLog-oMotives readers to easily review some of the past featured designs.

Balloons on Broadway • Portland, OR (Read more)

North Portland Business Association • Portland, OR (Read more)

Benicia Historical Museum • Benicia, CA (Read more)

Tel•Med • Multnomah County Medical Society • Portland, OR (Read more)

Smith Freed & Eberhard P.C. • Portland, OR (Read more)

Check out previous "before and after" posts on bLog-oMotives.

(Note: My book, Identity Crisis!: 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities Into Successful Brands, contains case studies from 35 designers and firms located around the world. Learn more about the book on the Identity Crisis! blog.)

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

A garden umbrella takes a stand - in a flower pot

My increasingly gorgeous North Portland garden does need some urgent care this week. Things are growing out of control and I hope to take advantage of some "garden therapy" several times in the next few days. Funny, since LeAnn Locher wrote about my garden in Just Out this past month, quite a few people have been inviting themselves over for viewings. (LeAnn recently posted some additional photos on her Flickr page.) We've also been enjoying numerous dinners with friends out on the backyard patio.

Until quite recently I had paid little attention to the tumbled paver patio in front of the house. Initially created to eliminate the last patch of lawn in our garden, the patio had remained empty for almost a year. One of the ideal aspects of the patio space is that it is completely private from the street due to the growth of the plantings behind a curved retaining wall. In fact, walkers passing by on the sidewalk below, while commenting on the garden, most often are unaware I am up on the higher portion of the front yard.

I knew I wanted a couple somewhat traditional Adirondack chairs and a small table for the outdoor room. I also felt a garden umbrella was needed to shade the seating area in the mid-afternoon when hot, direct sunlight was a factor. Still, I didn't want your average, clunky umbrella stand in my front patio decor. When I came across some large pottery flower pots I knew I had my umbrella stand solution - I just needed to wait for the pots to go on sale. I couldn't possibly pay retail. I hate to pay retail.

A couple weeks later the pot I had my eye on went on clearance - and I had an additional 20% off coupon. My umbrella stand project could begin.

The materials needed for one flower pot umbrella stand (shown above right) are:

• 1 large, heavy flower pot - a minimum of 18" to 24" tall

• 1 piece of 2 inch PVC plumbing pipe - cut 2 inches shorter than the depth of the flower pot

• 1 metal plumbing flange to fit 2 inch pipe

• 1 transitional "screw-on thingy" to add to the flange allowing for the PVC pipe to fit into flange

• Rocks, gravel or crushed concrete - enough to fill flower pot to about 6 inches below lip of pot

• Potted annuals or perennials in 6 inch pots - enough to circle around top of large flower pot

• Metal peg or nail (optional)

The tools needed include:

• a tape measure

• a hacksaw (to cut the PVD pipe)

• an electric drill (optional)

Measure the depth of the large flower pot and subtract two inches. This will give you the length needed to cut the PVC pipe with the hacksaw. Screw the transitional "thingy" onto the flange, place the PVC pipe into the transitional "thingy" and place the combined pieces into the large flower pot (as shown above in the second panel from the left)

(As an optional step, I then measured 2 inches down from what would be the top of the exposed pipe and drilled a hole through both sides of the pipe. I placed the umbrella pole into the pipe, marked the location of the holes in the pipe and drilled a hole of the same size through the umbrella pole. This will allow me to slip a metal peg, or large nail, through the pipe and pole to prevent the umbrella from possibly taking flight in a strong wind.)

I then began to fill the flower pot with some crushed concrete - remnants of our past deck backyard deck project. With about 4-5 inches of concrete in the pot I repositioned the pipe/flange contraption so it was centered (above, center photo). I then continued to fill the pot with crushed concrete until I had reached a level about 6 inches from the lip of the flower pot. (above, second photo from right).

After leveling out the crushed concrete in the flower pot I placed seven 6 inch pots of flowers and vegetation in the large flower part and around the pole (above, far right). My flowering garden umbrella stand was complete. All I had to do was place the umbrella in the stand and arrange the rest of my garden furniture (below).

I purchased the Adirondack chairs, small table and umbrella on clearance, with a 10% off total purchase coupon from Cost Plus World Market. All the plumbing pieces used to make the stand came from a nearby Lowe's, but could probably be found at any hardware store. The large flower pot, as well as the smaller one and all the plants, were purchased on clearance - with additional coupon discounts - at a neighborhood store. My entire new patio decor project cost me just under $300.

I have enjoyed sitting out on the patio, working on my PowerBook, listening to the garden critiques from unsuspecting passersby.

Note: Thanks to Apartment Therapy for featuring this project on their site.

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

It's your business and you get set the rules

I'm amazed when I hear designers, and independent creatives, constantly complaining about the client who calls at all hours or sends emergency emails in the middle of the night. My immediate thought is: Why are you answering the business phone call, or responding to the midnight email missive, during personal time?

While there may no longer be real geographic boundaries to working independently, establishing a successful client relationship, and maintaining some degree of sanity, does require setting up parameters in regards to communications and time. Doing so may initially require some patience during the process of training your client.

Establish "office hours" for your business. The vast majority of businesses have set hours of operation. Why should yours be any different?

Early in my career, my office hours were 8:00 to 5:00; Monday through Friday. I certainly worked additional hours, but that didn't mean I had client contact before or after those times. In the summer I had "summer office hours" of Monday through Thursday; 8:00 to 5:00. I had no client contact on Fridays. It drove a few people crazy, but it's my business and I get to set the rules. Following Labor Day weekend I would revert back to the normal "office hours" and change my voice mail message to reflect that fact.

One year, after Labor Day, I went to change the message and suddenly realized that I didn't want to work (or at least have client contact on Fridays). My "summer office hours" have been my regular "office hours" for over a decade now. Again, it's my business and I get to set the rules.

A ringing phone doesn't require that you must answer it. That's why some brilliant person invented voice mail. My office hours determine when I will be answering my dedicated business line. If I'm busy with a project I may not answer the phone when it rings, but I will check my voice mail messages several times during the day and get back to the caller later. Caller ID, and dedicated rings for clients calling in, can also help keep business calls from infringing upon your personal life.

I don't have a cell phone. I had one for three months about 12 years ago and it drove me crazy. I hated being that connected. At that time, I'd run my business for about 18 years without a mobile phone and my business did just fine. Besides, I do love the look on a client's face when they ask for my cell number and I tell them I don't have one.

It's much the same with email. A client's perception that a 3:00 AM email is addressing an emergency situation doesn’t necessarily mean that it's a real emergency demanding immediate attention (as if you are actually sitting at your computer at such a time waiting for their email). I respond to client emails during my established office hours - and as timely as my schedule for that day allows.

Admittedly, there are exceptions to the "rules." An occasional true emergency may require an immediate response. I simply don't often find myself needing to respond to situations outside of my established hours of operation.

Being an independent creative does allow you to determine how you choose to establish the communication boundaries between clients and yourself. The limitations put in place may be very helpful in maintaining successful client relationships - and keeping any possible resentment of clients to a minimum. Remember; it's your business and you get set the rules.

This piece was originally posted on the Creative Freelancer Conference blog. Jeff Fisher, the Engineer of Creative Identity for Jeff Fisher LogoMotives, will make his presentation "Reaping the Rewards of Creative Independence" at the Creative Freelancer Conference, to be held August 27-29, 2008 in Chicago.

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Toot! Toot!*: Designer and author Jeff Fisher
to speak at Create Chaos 2008 conference

Jeff Fisher, the Engineer of Creative Identity for the Portland design firm Jeff Fisher LogoMotives, will be a speaker at the Create Chaos 2008 conference to be held October 13-17, 2008 at the Orlando World Center Marriott Resort in Orlando, FL. In his session, Tooting Your Own Horn!, Fisher will share tips and anecdotes about promoting oneself through press releases, writing articles and books, making use of social networking and social media, blogging, design competition submissions, and being prepared when the media calls to give your business major exposure.

Create Chaos 2008 is a five-day creative industry destination event produced to inform, inspire, educate, and connect creative professionals across industries through an all-inclusive event. Create Chaos serves as a spark to ignite a new renaissance by bringing together creative professionals across industry boundaries including: graphic design, advertising, film and video production, animation, photography, printing, Web, and publishing professionals.

Produced by Brahn Awards & Events and partners, the Create Chaos experience features the following conferences and events: The Creative Suite Conference, Printing+Paper+Packaging Design Conference, The Vector Conference, Stash Theatre, CreativeHeads Job Fair, The Web Design Conference, MGFest, The Pixel Conference, and more.

Registration for Create Chaos 2008 is now live on Attendees may register directly online, or download the physical registration form. There are a variety of registration options for attendees to choose from — full-conference registration, three-day registration or single-day registration — depending on areas of interest and budget. Prices and descriptions are all available online, along with a list of important pre-conference dates. This recession-busting conference reduces travel and registration costs by co-locating several conferences, allowing for All-Access, Full-Conference passes to be available for one price, with one badge.

Jeff Fisher has received nearly 600 regional, national and international graphic design awards for his logo and corporate identity efforts. His work is featured in over 100 books on the design of logos, the business of graphic design, and small business marketing. He is a member of the HOW Design Conference Advisory Council and the UCDA Designer Magazine Editorial Advisory Board, and served on the HOW Magazine Editorial Advisory Board. His latest book, Identity Crisis!: 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities into Successful Brands, was released in 2007 by HOW Books. His first volume, The Savvy Designer’s Guide to Success, appeared on bookstore shelves in late 2004.

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

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Before and after logo designs: Part I

The majority of my recent identity design projects have been redesigns of existing logos. Over the years I have been contracted many times to update or makeover the logos of businesses and organizations. My "before & after" images of such projects get a great deal of attention in my marketing packets and through previous blog entries focusing on redesign efforts. I thought I would create a series of bLog-oMotives visual entries showcasing some of the examples - with links to previous posts offering project explanations and anecdotes - allowing bLog-oMotives readers to easily review some of the past featured designs.

American Telecom • Portland, OR (Read more)

Joy Creek Nursery • Scappoose, OR (Read more)

Just Out Newsmagazine • Portland, OR (Read more)

Tilikum Center for Retreats and Outdoor Ministries • George Fox University • Newberg, OR (Read more)

Travelady Media • Portland, OR (Read more)

(Note: My book, Identity Crisis!: 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities Into Successful Brands, contains case studies from 35 designers and firms located around the world. Learn more about the book on the Identity Crisis! blog.)

© 2008 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:

2008 Re:Design Competition
(Dynamic Graphics - USA)
Deadline: 15 August 2008
Entry fees charged

Like Colors: A Compendium of Prized T-shirt Designs
(Oxide Design Co. - USA)
Deadline: 15 August 2008
No entry fees charged

Letterhead & Logo Design 11
(Rockport Publishers - USA)
Deadline Extended: 1 September 2008
No entry fees charged

The Renaissance of the Type
(Society of Hungarian Graphic Designers and Typographers - Hungary)
Deadline: 12 September 2008
No entry fees charged

1000 More Graphic Elements
(Rockport Publishers - USA)
Deadline Extended: 15 September 2008
No entry fees charged

HOW International Design Awards 2008
(HOW Magazine - USA)
Deadline Extended: 15 September 2008 (with late fees)
Entry fees charged

For a Good Cause: Solidarity Design
(Index Book - Spain)
Deadline: 15 September 2008
No entry fees charged

2009 ReBrand 100 Global Awards
(ReBrand - USA)
Deadline: 24 September 2008
Entry fees charged

Summit Emerging Media Award
(Summit International Awards - USA)
Deadline: 24 September 2008
Entry fees charged

Really Good Packaging, Explained
(Crescent Hill Books - USA)
Deadline Extended: 26 September 2008
No entry fees charged

A Homeage to Typography
(Index Book - Spain)
Deadline: 30 September 2008
No entry fees charged

Toilets - PictoSigns
(Index Book - Spain)
Deadline: 30 September 2008
No entry fees charged

First International Biennial Competition LOGO 2008
(Logo 2008 - Slovakia)
Deadline: 30 September 2008
Entry fees charged

STEP Inside Design 100
(STEP Inside Design - USA)
Deadline: 1 October 2008
Entry fees charged

Tokyo TDC Annual Awards 2009
(Tokyo Type Directors Club - Japan)
Deadline: 10 October 2008 (Interactive entries)
Deadline: 22 October 2008 (All other categories)
No entry fees charged to overseas entrants

(Index Book - Spain)
Deadline: 20 October 2008
No entry fees charged

Call for Aspiring Creatives #43
(CMYK Magazine - USA)
Deadline: 20 October 2008
Entry fees charged

(RotoVision - UK)
Deadline: 30 October 2008
No entry fees charged

Creativity + Commerce: PRINT’s International Business Graphics Prize
Deadline: 1 November 2008
Entry fees charged

100’s Visual Packaging & Labels
(Angela Patchell Books - UK)
Deadline: 1 November 2008
No entry fees charged

Communication Arts Interactive Competition
(Communication Arts - USA)
Deadline: 16 January 2009
Entry fees charged

Summit Creative Award
(Summit International Awards - USA)
Deadline: 26 January 2009
Entry fees charged

Communication Arts Illustration Competition
(Communication Arts - USA)
Deadline: 6 March 2009
Entry fees charged

Communication Arts Photography Competition
(Communication Arts - USA)
Deadline: 6 March 2009
Entry fees charged

HOW Promotion Design Awards 2009
(HOW Magazine - USA)
Deadline: 20 March 2009
Entry fees charged

(To make sure you are reading the latest bLog-oMotives design competition update click here.)

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.

Design competition calendars are also available at Icograda and Workbook. L├╝rzer's ARCHIVE also has an impressive online list of competitions sponsored by international magazines and organizations. 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.

My own work appears in nearly 100 graphic design books. Many of those inclusions are the result of design competitions, or requests for submissions, like those listed above.

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

Good luck!

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Yippee! I got my "Monsters" button...

One of the the fun things about annual HOW Design Conference is getting to meet, and hang out with, other HOW Books authors at the speaker reception and the yearly HOW authors dinner. This past May, my editor Amy Schell and book designer Grace Ring hosted the author event at Finale in Boston - where a diner's main course is dessert.

(Warning: This is a total "name dropper" alert. If you don't want names dropped on you please skip the next two paragraphs.)

My end of the table was occupied by my friends Ilise Benun and Peleg Top, the authors of The Designer's Guide To Marketing And Pricing: How To Win Clients And What To Charge Them. Across from me sat Chris Sickels of The Look Book; Stefan G. Bucher, the creator of 100 Days Of Monsters; and Crumble, Crackle, Burn: 60 Stunning Textures for Design & Illustration author Von Glitschka.

A ways down the table were Jim Krause of Index book fame; Decoding Design: Understanding and Using Symbols in Visual Communication author Maggie Macnab; Debbie Millman who wrote the recently released The Essential Principles Of Graphic Design, and PRINT Magazine Editor-in-Chief Joyce Rutter Kaye. Of course, I was there as the author of Identity Crisis: 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities into Successful Brands. It was an incredible evening.

("Name dropper" alert is over.)

I mention the HOW Books author dinner because, at the event, I had a great time meeting and visiting with Stefan G. Bucher. A few weeks later when I saw his profile on Facebook I certainly felt it was appropriate to connect with him as a "friend." He recently added to his Facebook profile with a The Daily Monsters Page. Earlier this week I had a Facebook message from Stefan informing me that the first 20 fans of the new Page would received a "Monsters" button. Well, I certainly wanted a button of my own.

I think the button (shown above in a photo I blatantly swiped from Stefan's The Daily Monster blog.) is a great piece of self-promotion. The unusual amount of text on the button reads:

Hi! How are you? I understand there are limits to the amount of copy you can put on one of these buttons and still expect it to be effective in a setting such as Comic-Con 2008, so I'll be brief: I have a website called and a book that goes with it: 100 DAYS OF MONSTERS. If you have a minute, I hope you'll check it out at booth #1415. And if you were to tell a friend about the Monsters...well, that would be awfully nice of you! Thanks you for your time! Have a great day!

Brilliant! Wow, I've really rambled on and on here, haven't I? Well, the entire purpose of this bLog-oMotives entry was to say:

Yippee! I got my "Monsters" button!

Thanks Stefan!

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives