Clickety-clacks along the LogoMotives tracks

Jeff Fisher LogoMotives mentions were tracked online numerous times in the past few months. Here's the latest:

Spec Work and Crowdsourcing: Gambles that Don't Pay Off In an article by former editor-in-chief Pamela Pfiffner, design industry professionals - including myself - weigh in on the issues of spec work and crowdsourcing. [4.27.09]

10 Creative Minds of the Design Industry The blog Powerusers, written by Nikhil K. Misal, introduced a group design industry professionals, including yours truly, to a large international cyber-audience. [4.24.09]

Design Sites • The Jounalist's Toolbox It's great to have Jeff Fisher LogoMotives included as a link The Journalist's Toolbox resource list from the Society of Professional Journalists. [4.09.09]

Logo 72: Jeff Fisher LogoMotives - Making a logo design your own Logo design link and resource site Logo72 sent a lot of traffic my way posting a link to my article "Making a logo design your own." [4.08.09]

Calvin Lee Interview | Inspiredology Longtime design industry pal Calvin Lee, of Mayhem Studios was kind enough to mention me in his interview on Inspiredology. Thanks Cal! [4.06.09]

10 Great Logo Design, Branding and Identity Books The blog Logo Critiques for including my book Identity Crisis!: 50 redesigns that transformed stale identities into successful brands on their list of "10 Great Logo Design, Branding and Identity Books." [3.26.09]

Using Twitter to Promote Your Book Writer extraordinaire Kristen Fischer used my experiences in promoting my books with Twitter in her piece for the site FreelanceSwitch. [3.22.09]

30 Beautiful Logos Brazilian designer Fabio Sasso included the Jeff Fisher LogoMotives identity in the list on his Abduzeedo/Abducted By Design. [3.11.09]

Making Public Speaking Fun In his Communication Steroids blog, writer Tim 'Gonzo' Gordon mentioned several of my more attention-getting speaking engagement tactics. [2.22.09]

Occasionally, I come across older posts related to my design or writing efforts. Here are a couple examples:

Logo Design Inspiration - Cool Logos Part I The blog for included my DataDork logo in this selection of design inspirations. [8.15.08][2.22.09][2.22.09]

Best Logo Design Books for Your Graphic Design Library In another post from my book Identity Crisis!: 50 redesigns that transformed stale identities into successful brands is one of four recommended. [12.30.08]

© 2009 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Clowning Around: My clown school experience

In a recent bLog-oMotives post I wrote about my acceptance to clown school to become a member of the Amtrak Cascades Character Clown Corps, the official clowns representing the annual Portland Rose Festival. The course was being taught by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus "Clown College" graduate Angel Ocasio - a professional clown for the past 28 years.

Prior to clown school I began considering my clown persona. As mentioned to Angel in my audition, I wanted to create a character somehow connected to my business name Jeff Fisher LogoMotives and my personal life long-interest in trains. The suggestion of the name "Caboose" by a Twitter pal evolved into "Toots Caboose."

With a clown name selected, I started collecting elements of a possible costume. I already had a traditional red "Union suit." I searched all over town for striped overalls, but had to settle for solid blue ones found at Sears. A Google search for "engineer hat, Portland" resulted in finding one available at the local menswear institution John Helmer Haberdasher. (Who knew?) I finally found red Converse® high tops after visiting numerous retailers. I was unable to find the over-sized red bandana I wanted and settled for two blue ones I already owned. Along the way I was collecting the make-up and supplies suggested in a list emailed earlier by Angel.

Arriving at Portland's World Trade Center, I had a bit of apprehension about the three-day course. This whole adventure was so far out of my personal comfort zone. Angel was the only familiar face when I entered the classroom and his welcome immediately put me at ease. The 20+ future clowns in the room in the room were not mingling much as I took my seat next to a woman who introduced herself as Debra. I found myself flipping through the packet of information, which included a couple face templates for possible make-up designs (below left), and silently wondering what the hell I'd gotten myself into.

Angel brought the class to order, made a comment about it being the last time we would all be so uncomfortable with each other and asked us to introduce ourselves. What a diverse group. My classmates, from a teenager to individuals in their mid-60's included students, a life coach, teachers, a nanny, a massage therapist, a retired lawyer/judge, a peripatologist, an investment counselor, a restaurant cook, moms with grown kids, an electron microscope technician, an architect and others.

In beginning the class, Angel explained that we would not just be creating a visual clown, but rather meaningful character clown, or "buffoons with a purpose." It was very interesting to learn the differences in the White Face, Auguste, Tramp, Hobo, European and New Circus/New Vaudeville clowns. With the descriptions fresh in my mind I realized that "Toots Caboose" might be a combination of a European and Tramp character. I found myself mindlessly doodling my thoughts on one of the face templates (above center). Following some reflections on famous clowns, Angel moved the class into some of the more physical aspects of clowning.

OK, I could feel my discomfort meter maxing out. I am not a performer and, for someone with years of public speaking experience, I am not comfortable putting myself in awkward situations in front of strangers. My last actual stage appearance had been in a nonspeaking munchkin role in a second grade production of The Wizard of Oz. After several improvisational exercises I was totally exhausted - and very pleased with myself.

Day two of clown school began with Angel going through the process of applying his make-up. It was fascinating to watch him become a new character as the make-up was applied. His facial features changed, as did his mannerisms, and his voice altered. As he explained, and demonstrated, different styles of make-up on two class "volunteers," I continued to fine-tune my concept of what the "Toots" make-up might be. Professional clown Trudi Sang and her daughter also presented a great demonstration of their make-up application.

Then it was time for all of the future clowns to begin their own make-up treatments. With my basic design in place, I was surprised how easy it was to do my own makeup. With my mustache painted in place, I prepared to add the "stubble" I had included in my original design - and I stopped. I found Angel and asked if I should add the beard element. He agreed with my hesitation and said "stop now." The primary visual element of "Toots Caboose" was complete.

With make-up in place, we all started donning our costumes. It was incredible to see so much interaction among the group of people who did not know each other the day before. Everyone was evolving into a clown - and having a lot of fun doing so.

Selecting a nose was not a easy as I thought. Initially, I felt that "Toots" would have a big, round red nose. It was very disappointing to see that the round ones simply did not look good. My frustration must have been evident for Angel to say, "You need something that points up a bit; something with more attitude." Then I saw it - being tried on by one of my classmates - and yelled across the room "There's my nose!" I tried it on and my character's "look" was complete. I was already looking forward to receiving my own professional clown nose the following week. With the nose balanced on my face, my makeup photograph was taken (above right).

The rest of day two was spent learning to be comfortable within our character. We participated in working with props, connecting with an audience, improvising and interacting with other clowns. All hesitations and apprehension were gone. It was as if I was in a room of two dozen friends, who just happened to be clowns.

It was immediately into make-up as our final day began. It was incredible to see everyone become their clown alter-ego with make-up, clothing, hats, wigs and accessories. My classmate Doug (clown name "The Maestro') brought me striped overalls, like I had been trying to find earlier, as a contribution to my costume. All the clowns in the room were helping each other finalize make-up and attire details. It was amazing to realize that we were all actually becoming clowns.

Much of the day's class was spent on each character clown making entrances, introductions and exits - learning the names and persona each individual was adopting for their clown experience. All of my self-consciousness had disappeared as I interacted with other members of the clown troupe. I was actually kind of proud of myself.

Our day ended with each class member making their clown introduction to officials of the Portland Rose Festival Foundation. We received certificates making us official members of the Amtrak Cascades Character Clown Corps, as well as train whistles from Amtrak Cascades, and other Rose Festival trinkets. All 24 of us were now official Portland Rose Festival clowns as the second Character Clown Corps graduating class. The experience was educational, emotional, exhausting, exhilarating and so much more. Clown school was one of the most incredible and rewarding experiences of my life.

I left the building without taking off my costume, or removing my make-up, and drove home. Think about it - me, Mr. Self-conscious, wandering and driving around Portland without a care - as a clown. In fact, someone saw me. A grade-school friend, Joani, saw this update posted on Facebook: "Driving to church. Just saw a clown driving a Volvo wagon, full clown gear...odd." When I got home, Ed said photos were a must. (above) He also made me go next door to introduce "Toots" to our neighbor. Let the clowning around begin.

My first name is "Toots" and my last name is "Caboose."

Here is the schedule of public appearances for the Amtrak Cascades Character Clown Corps:

• Saturday, May 9, 2009 • National Train Day • Union Station • Portland • 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM

• Friday, May 22, 2009 • Portland Rose Festival • Opening of Waterfront Village & Busker's Parade • Waterfront Park • Portland • TBA: Late afternoon/early evening

• Wednesday, June 3, 2009 • Portland Rose FestivalFred Meyer Junior Rose Festival Parade • Hollywood District • Portland

• Saturday, June 6, 2009 • Portland Rose FestivalKey Bank Grand Floral Parade • Memorial Coliseum • Downtown Portland

• Sunday, June 7, 2009 Portland Rose FestivalWaterfront Village closing festivities

© 2009 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Re-Design: Balaboosta Delicatessen

The Japanese book Works in Progress: Graphics for Visual Presentations features a portion of the logo design process for Balaboosta. The following example of a logo re-design project by Jeff Fisher LogoMotives goes into a bit more detail.

Local chef and restaurant owner Lisa Schroeder was opening a new traditional delicatessen on a city block where she owned two other eating establishments. Initially the new eatery was also going to display and sell artisan furniture made from reclaimed products. A polished identity was needed to represent the new business.

Furniture designer Brett Bigham had created an initial image for use in promoting the establishment which would also showcase his creative efforts (above). A more stylized and finished business identity was desired by the owner of the business. Retaining the image of a waitress in the graphic was discussed, as was the incorporation of some retro restaurant imagery.

With "Balaboosta" being a rather unique word, I first presented the client the word in a wide variety of typefaces - both upper and lower case for each font presented (above).

The initial concepts (above) incorporated waitress imagery, a retro-like checkerboard pattern and all of the text elements desired by the client. The first two logo concepts included an oval shape - an element used in the identities of the client's tow other eating establishments.

Feedback on the initial concepts led to the elimination of the waitress image. The client suggested that I concentrate on promoting the food offerings of the delicatessen within the logo design.

I then decided to incorporate a cup of coffee and a bagel as replacements for the "O" letterforms in the word "Balaboosta." In addition, concepts were presented that conveyed a restaurant tabletop with coffee cups, bowl, plate and pitcher. (above) Again, one of the designs involved the inclusion of the oval shape.

The oval resonated with the client and I was asked to move forward with that shape as a graphic element. The coffee cup remained within the design; while the bagel was replaced with a half sandwich and a dill pickle slice. In simplifying the design, the name Balaboosta Delicatessen was the only text retained. A variety of background treatments were presented (above).

The client, who had a great understanding of design and typography, then suggested that I take a look at the font Serific/Serifa as a possible primary type treatment. Baskerville was discussed as a complimentary type selection for the word "Delicatessen" (above).

The simplification of the logo design continued with the elimination of all illustrative elements. The diamond pattern background of previous concepts brought my attention to the tile pattern on the floor of the historic building housing the delicatessen. I then brought that tile pattern - and the colors of wood, paint and tile within the restaurant - into the design (above).

The oval shape was a consistent element from the beginning of the process to create an identity for the Balaboosta Delicatessen. Through the process of distilling the design down to a simplified image, a final sophisticated logo was created.

The client was very pleased with the final identity image and how it complimented the logos of her other restaurants. Unfortunately, the design got little use, as the eating establishment was reconcepted shortly after opening.

In addition to appearing in the Works in Progress: Graphics for Visual Presentations, the Balaboosta design lives on in The Big Book of Logos 5.

(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.)

© 2009 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives.

'Identity Crisis!' included in 'Best Logo Design
Books for Your Graphic Design Library'

Sometimes it takes a while to find posts out there in the cyber-verse related to my design efforts or writing. Recently I came across the post Best Logo Design Books for Your Graphic Design Library on the All Graphic Design blog. My book, Identity Crisis!: 50 redesigns that transformed stale identities into successful brands, was one of four suggested identity design volumes.

One of the others, Really Good Logos Explained: Top Design Professionals Critique 500 Logos and Explain What Makes Them Work, includes examples of my logo design work. The two others, Design Matters: Logos 01: An Essential Primer for Today's Competitive Market and Logo Design Workbook: A Hands-On Guide to Creating Logos, are both in my personal design library and I would highly recommend them to anyone interested in identity design.

© 2009 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

St. Croix vacation poolside reading list

Several longtime bLog-oMotives readers have pointed out that I have become a lax in posting my vacation reading lists as a resource for book suggestions. I apologize for my tardiness in providing such a list. Upon returning from over two weeks away, catching up seems to take a priority to the many things I'd like to be accomplishing.

Here's what I read during my March 2009 vacation to St. Croix:

Pig in Provence: Good Food and Simple Pleasures in the South of France, by Georgeanne Brennan In preparation for a 2010 trip to Paris, and the south of France, I've been reading travel and food writing of the country. This book is a great record of an American family living on a farm in Provence and making the most of local relationships, customs, food and experiences. It also provides some great recipes.

A Place of my Own: The Architecture of Daydreams, by Michael Pollard I've always enjoyed Pollard's food writing. This tale, of his need to build a space of his own in which to work and relax, is very different than his previous books - but no less enjoyable. I wonder when I will build that studio above our garage?

Venetian Stories, by Jane Turner Rylands Venice is one of my favorite places to visit. I could return again and again. This book, written by the spouse of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection director (one of my favorite Venice museums)is like taking a walk along the canals and eavesdropping on all along the way. Each short story is somehow linked to others in the book. The sequel, Across the Bridge of Sighs: More Venetian Stories, is already on my nightstand.

The Whole Truth, by David Baldacci Our friend Bonnie, the owner of the house in which we stay in St. Croix, is an avid reader. When we arrive each year, there is a stack of books she's left behind. This Baldacci book was among that selection. It was an enjoyable, fast read - but it did come across a bit too much as the possible treatment for a movie.

Death of an Englishman, by Magdalen Nabb (A Marshal Guarnaccia Investigation) Death of a Dutchman, by Magdalen Nabb (A Marshal Guarnaccia Investigation) Prior to leaving for vacation I visited one of my favorite local bookstores, Murder by the Book. In visiting with the proprietor, I mentioned that I enjoyed mysteries set in places where I have, or may, travel. She asked if I'd ever read any Magdalen Nabb books - and then told me they had none of them in stock. However, I was able to find used copies of the first two at Powells. The books, set in Florence, Italy (another favorite vacation spot), are detailed, well-crafted tales eventually solved by Marshal Guarnaccia. I'm currently reading the third in the series, Death in Springtime.

The Customer is Always Wrong: The Retail Chronicles, by Jeff Martin Not your usual business book. This volume is a collection of hilarious stories of situations that the authors have experienced while working in primarily retail situations. Anybody who has ever had a somewhat miserable retail job will appreciate the book.

End Games, by Michael Dibdin (An Aurelio Zen Mystery) I was saddened by the 2007 death of Michael Dibdin; due to the loss of a great Pacific Northwest writer and the end of the Aurelio Zen mystery series. Over the last 15 years I've read the intriguing 11 books, which give the reader an insider's look into the Italian way of life - and death. End Games did not disappoint; other than being the last from Dibdin.

The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food, by Judith Jones This was my favorite vacation read of all. In fact, I've been recommending it to friends and buying it as a gift for others. Cookbook editor (and writer) Judith Jones has led a fascinating life. For over 50 years, as an editor and vice president at Alfred A. Knopf, she has introduced readers to many culinary stars, including Julia Child, Marcella Hazan and Edna Lewis. Personally, I wish she'd spent much more time writing. The Tenth Muse tells all the juicy stories and thankfully provides the recipes to many of the dishes described throughout the book. Ed enjoyed the book so much it was filled with bookmarks when we got home. Four of the marked pages listed cookbooks that Jones edited for a variety of interesting cooks and chefs. I was able to track down used copies of three of the books for his birthday. One of them was released the year he was born.

The Immaculate Deception, by Iain Pears (Jonathan Argyll Art History Mystery Series) This book is the last in a series I've been reading over the past few months. Iain Pears has combined Italian locales, mystery, art, art history and great characters to create one of the best collection of books I've read in some time.

Vacations also give me an opportunity to catch up on the stacks of magazines constantly growing around my home. When you receive over 30 subscriptions a month it's difficult to keep up. On this trip I was able to take along copies of the following: Oregon Home, Out, Portfolio, Vanity Fair (each year I take the thick Hollywood issue on vacation), Entrepreneur (which included an article citing me as a design and branding expert), Fortune Small Business, Seattle Business, Fast Company, This Old House, Garden Design, and HOW.

Our annual trips to St. Croix are about relaxing. The island doesn't offer a great deal in the way of nightlife; especially when staying in a beachfront home outside of Christiansted. We usually take some movies, or DVD boxed sets of seasons of a television show, for nightly viewing. On this trip we watched two seasons - 44 episodes - of the highly entertaining Boston Legal.

The end of one vacation often means we start planning for the next. I suppose I should begin putting together the library for our annual summer gold-mining trip in the Wallowa Mountains of Oregon.

© 2009 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Clowning Around: I'm going to clown school!

In late 2007, thanks to the efforts of Dr. John Epley, I recovered from years of dealing with a debilitating chronic vertigo battle. I went from having difficulties working, driving and leaving my house, to wanting to get out in the world to experience new things. I read, in early 2008, about the Portland Rose Festival initiating a Character Clown Corps, with people from the local community participating in a "clown school" and then going on to perform as clowns at various events during the historic annual festival. Applying to be a participant in such a program would certainly be a "new thing."

Throughout my career I've often been called a "clown" - I was excited about the possibility of actually being one. Unfortunately, several of the required activity dates conflicted with events already on my schedule, including speaking at the 2008 HOW Design Conference in Boston.

Boss clown Angel Ocasio on the high wire

I've always liked clowns. I can remember going to the Shrine Circus as a child, with my grandfather, and being fascinated by the clowns. In addition, the Portland Rose Festival had been a part of my life since I was just a kid. I have great memories of attending the evening Merrykana Parade (the Mardi Gras-like predecessor to the Starlight parade), numerous in-person Grand Floral Parade viewings over the years, and once even cheering on my sister as she rode on a float as a Junior Miss.

Multiple visits to the Portland Rose Festival website finally resulted in learning that the Character Clown Corps would be recreated for the 2009 festival. Without telling anyone, I began to make plans to submit my application for consideration. When I finally told my spouse, Ed, he simply smiled, shook his head and walked away.

My greatest fear about the whole process was having no talent. As a potential clown, if my application was accepted, the audition process required the exhibition of some form of talent. I have not performed on stage since I has a non-speaking munchkin role in a second grade production of The Wizard of Oz. A one-night guest "walk on," 13 years ago, during my direction a Portland production of the play Party! just didn't seem to count as "talent." In elementary school, I did play the trombone - miserably - for part of one year, but music is just not my thing. I decided, if I even got an audition, that I would tell jokes - jokes from kids I knew.

A couple weeks ago the call came from Angel Ocasio, special projects manager for the Portland Rose Festival Foundation and a professional clown. Ocasio (photo above), a graduate of the now-defunct Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College and professional clown for nearly 30 years, called to inform me that I had an audition for the Character Clown Corps. He will teach the three-day "clown school" for the Portland Rose Festival in preparation for a number of public appearances.

Panic immediately set in. I called my "advisory committee" of seven to eleven year-olds for joke input. My initial call to my young friend Harrison resulted in no help at all. His response to my request was "Why would anyone want to be a clown?"

I told him I felt being a clown would be "an interesting life experience."

"No, not that interesting," was his reply. He also told me that his older sister was too busy to be bothered with my problem.

Contacting my young friend Tate was much more fruitful. He actually thought the idea of being a clown was "cool." Still, he felt he and his sister Tess needed to have a meeting with their dad to determine what jokes would be best for my purposes.

Later that night, via email, I received jokes for my consideration. The message included some funny typical kid riddles and one joke about Jesus playing golf with Moses and God.

As I sat in the lobby of the Portland Rose Festival the next day, watching a very animated guy juggle through his audition, thoughts of "oh my, what have I gotten myself into" went through my mind. Just by auditioning I was putting myself way outside my comfort zone.

Angel Ocasio immediately put my at ease as he backed me up against the wall for a digital photo. I sat down and we talked about life, Jeff Fisher LogoMotives, how he became a clown, our common interest in writing and much more. I joked about having no talent and then told the jokes provided by my young friends. Ocasio asked if he could tell the one about Jesus golfing at his church the following Sunday. I realized that I really wanted to learn about being a clown from this guy.

In discussing my business, Ocasio mentioned that he really liked the cleverness of my LogoMotives identity. I explained that I had always liked trains and thought I might enjoy developing a railroad-related clown persona. He then excitedly told me that the Character Clown Corps had just learned it was to be sponsored by Amtrak Cascades and the first public appearance would be at Portland's Union Station on National Train Day.

I was somewhat stunned.

It was then that he looked at the clock and realized that my 15-minute scheduled audition had expanded to over an hour and 15 minutes - and another person was to audition in a few minutes. I left feeling really good about the whole experience.

A few days later, Ocasio called to let me know that I would be a member of the Amtrak Cascades Character Clown Corps for the 2009 Portland Rose Festival. To say I was excited is an understatement. I hung up the phone, ran into the living room and exclaimed to Ed, "I'm going to be a clown!"

He looked up from his reading, smiled and quickly went back to his magazine.

Watch for more "Clowning Around" as I blog about going to "clown school" in late April, share a schedule of events at which the Character Clown Corps will appear, and reflect on my public appearances as a genuine clown.

Photo: Courtesy of Angel Ocasio's Comedy

© 2009 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives