Toot! Toot!*: Jeff Fisher offers advice in newly released "2011 Artist's & Graphic Designer's Market"

Jeff Fisher, the Engineer of Creative Identity for the Portland-based firm Jeff Fisher LogoMotives, shares career advice for industry professionals in an article published in the recently released book 2011 Artist's & Graphic Designer's Market. In his piece, "Getting the Gig: Find Work and Develop Business Relationships Through Planning, Perseverance and Patience," the former art director and creative director offers numerous suggestions of how designers, illustrators, artists and others can best market and promote their efforts.

The new volume, published by North Light Books and edited by Mary Burzlaff Bostic, is the 36th annual edition of the Artist's & Graphic Designer's Market. A resource for artists, illustrators, designers and cartoonists who want to establish careers, and make more money, the book provides readers with contact and submission information for 1000+ markets, publishers, galleries, art fairs, ad agencies and more. In addition, purchase of the current edition includes a free annual subscription to the companion site Artist's Market Online.

The featured article by Jeff Fisher is illustrated with examples of his internationally recognized identity design work. Logos displayed include images for Jeff Fisher LogoMotives, Chameleon, Cat Adoption Team, the Holocaust Remembrance Project and DataDork (shown above).

Fisher, a 30+ year design industry veteran, is the author of Identity Crisis!: 50 redesigns that transformed stale identities into successful brands and The Savvy Designer's Guide to Success: Ideas and tactics for a killer career. Other book projects are currently in the works.

The designer has received over 600 design awards and his work has been published in more than 140 books on identity design, self-promotion and the marketing of small businesses. He often travels – nationally and internationally – to present courses, seminars and workshops on design, branding, marketing and social networking. In addition, Fisher is a nationally-recognized speaker, making numerous presentations each year to design organizations, design schools, universities and business groups.

More information about Jeff Fisher, and his design and writing efforts, may be found on the Jeff Fisher LogoMotives blogfolio.

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

© 2010 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Logodotes: Cat Adoption Team concept

[Over the 30+ years I've worked professionally as a designer, interesting side stories have come up about my identity designs. This is one of an ongoing series of "Logodotes" - anecdotes about my logo designs.]

It's always interesting to be contacted by a nonprofit organization with a request to design a logo pro bono. I get numerous such requests each month. These days, to give myself permission to politely decline some inquiries, I only consider donating my services if the project is related to education, nonprofit performing arts groups, children's causes, HIV/AIDS or issues in which I have a strong personal interest.

I had certainly heard of the Cat Adoption Team (C.A.T.), the Pacific Northwest’s largest nonprofit, limited admission cat shelter with its own on-site full-service veterinary hospital. My initial contact with the organization came via an email from a graphic designer doing volunteer work for C.A.T. She explained that she was a fan of my own identity design work and asked if I would possibly consider designing a new logo for C.A.T. as it approached its tenth anniversary celebration.

After expressing my interest in taking on the project, an appointment was made with the woman who was the group's Executive Director at the time. I appreciated the advertising and marketing background of this individual. She had a great understanding of branding - and the fact that the logo in use at the time (above left) may have served the agency well in its first decade, but it was time to convey a stronger, more professional and memorable public persona. With the emotional and historical investment in the existing logo, the was certainly a "never tell a potential client their logo sucks" situation. Personally, I felt the hand-drawn logo, with one black cat looking outside a window while another looked in, projected a melancholy and somewhat sinister image.

My hope was to create a simple, memorable logo, that would be appeal to both adults and children, as an identifier for the group. With the gift of an organization name acronym creating the primary word associated with the cause, I set about the design a logo turning C.A.T. into the graphic image of the animal. I got increasingly excited as I doodled (above right) and saw a recognizable cat form taking shape within the name.

My excitement was shared by the Executive Director when I explained the direction in which I was taking the project. As I fine-tuned the concept, I opted to make use of letterforms from the font Frankfurter to form the cat and then be used to spell out the organization name. The roundness of the letters created a soft, friendly, inviting design (above) for review by the client Board of Directors. The Executive Director seemed very pleased by my effort and felt it could successfully take C.A.T. into its second decade with a clever and professional graphic identity.

The Board of Directors did not agree. The Executive Director shared that the board members did not feel the design was "warm and fuzzy enough" to successfully represent the cause. She then graciously offered me an opportunity that no previous client had suggested. Given the fact I had donated my time and invested so much energy, into a design that I was convinced would best serve C.A.T and the Board of Directors disagreed; she was allowing me to remove myself from the situation if I chose to do so.

I accepted her offer to separate myself from the project. Afterwards I learned that other designers had less than successful past business relationships with the agency, too. The combination of a mostly volunteer organization, the historical and emotional attachments to the group's past designs, a voting Board of Directors sometimes becoming a "design by committee' presence, and other elements can make such projects challenging - for the designer and the client.

Soon after ending my participation in the C.A.T. project, I received a call-for-entries for a book to display 50 of the best international rejected, or "killed," design concepts. The C.A.T. logo concept design got a second life when it was accepted for publication in the book Killed Ideas: Vol 1.

The C.A.T. design went on to have more than nine lives beginning with winning a Silver Award in the Summit Creative Awards. It is also featured in the books Letterhead & Logo Design 11, American Graphic Design & Advertising 25, Designing for the Greater Good, LogoLounge Master Library Vol. 2, Logolicious, For a Good Cause (Spain), iheartlogos season one and Logo Nest 01 (Australia). The logo also appears in the textbook Perfect Match Art Primary 5, by Prisca Ko Hak Moi - a collaborative project of publisher Pearson Education South Asia and Ministry of Education Singapore. Most recently it is an illustrative element in an article I wrote for the 2011 Artist's and Graphic Designer's Market.

© Cat Adoption Team

What became of the need for a Cat Adoption Team logo design? Well, another designer (if I knew the name I would post it here) did take on the project and successfully created an identity for C.A.T. (above). It seems that the organization got their more literal and "warm and fuzzy" feline representation within the logo design. It has been used as the agency's identity for some time now.

I had an immediate critical, rather than personal or bitchy, reaction to the new logo when first seeing it - and other logo designers have emailed me with similar thoughts. With the illustrative cat's head resting on the "C" letterform, that letter seems to visually close creating a noose-like appearance - or the cat's head seems to resting in wait for the falling of a guillotine blade or the ax of a a public executioner. Perhaps not the best graphic message for a "no-kill" cat shelter.

© 2010 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Design studio housecleaning - excavated artifact #23

I've worked as a professional graphic designer for just over 32 years. In that period of time, I have collected a great many project concepts, doodles and roughs. As I continue to go through three decades of design files, these excavated artifacts are coming to the surface.

In the mid-to-late 1980s, while living in Seattle, I did quite a bit of design work for gay and lesbian businesses, organizations and events. One such group was the Washington Privacy Lobby, founded out of concerns related to personal medical records privacy during the AIDS crisis.

My original doodle for the organization identity was executed in dark blue felt-tipped pen, on the back of a sheet from a pink "While You Were Out" message pad. With a certain alignment the "O" letterform in "WASHINGTON" and the "A" in "PRIVACY" formed a graphic keyhole, symbolizing the keeping of medical information under lock and key (above left). To add what I thought would be strength the logo, a key element would fill the open space created by the placement of the words.

As I began to fine-tune the design, I made use of Letraset pressure-sensitive type (remember, this is pre-personal computer) to produce the primary text in Italia Bold (above right). An outline of the State of Washington became part of the key. The remaining available space in the design allowed for the placement of an address for envelopes, letterhead, business cards, labels and other printed material.

With the Italia type treatment seeming visually too heavy, I opted to change to the oh-so-1980s type of Serif Gothic Outline (above). Again, at the time, this was a Letraset or Chartpak pressure sensitive typeface. The graphic element of the key was eliminated to reinforce the issue of "privacy" within the design. If you want something to remain private you would not provide anyone with the key. The center of the keyhole image was darkened to symbolize blocking someone from peeking at what may be inside - in this case, medical records needing to remain confidential.

Take a look at the complete Jeff Fisher LogoMotives excavated artifacts collection.

© 2010 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Cowboy Jeffie's Confetti Chicken Chili

The season of rain, cold and fog has arrived. It's time to take my annual designerly turn in the kitchen and make a big pot of my colorful confetti chicken chili.

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

This is a recipe I adapted (and re-adapted) from one published in Parade Magazine many years ago. It was kind of boring and colorless. The graphic designer in me changed many of the ingredients to make it a colorful and interesting dish. A few years ago I originally posted a version of this recipe on bLog-oMotives. This is my latest incarnation of Cowboy Jeffie's Confetti Chicken Chili. It can be served as a meal, with fresh bread or corn muffins, heated in the winter or cold in the summer. It is somewhat time consuming to prepare, but the results are more than worth the effort. Guests who have been served this dish at our home are always requesting a repeat performance when dining with us again.

The "confetti" of my chili: Diced red peppers, orange peppers, yellow peppers, green zucchini and yellow squash.

3 - 4 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium yellow onions - chopped
2 tablespoons garlic - coarsely chopped
3 - 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts - cubed
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper - to taste
1 cup chicken stock or chicken bouillon
1 can (28 oz.) stewed tomatoes (whole or chopped) - drained
(save liquid)
1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
1 can (5 3/4 oz.) black olives - sliced
1 medium-sized green zucchini - thinly sliced and quartered
1 medium-sized yellow zucchini - thinly sliced and quartered
3 bell peppers (select three different colors - I have found green, white,
red, yellow, orange and purple), cored, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch squares
1 can (27 oz.) red kidney beans - drained
1 can (15 oz.) black beans - drained
Fresh lemon or lime juice (from one lemon of lime)
Nonfat yogurt or sour cream (optional garnish)
Grated cheddar cheese (optional garnish)
Fresh cilantro (optional garnish)

Chili nearing completion on the stove.

1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over low heat. Saute onion and garlic in hot oil for about 5 minutes.

2. Add cubed chicken breasts and cook for 5 - 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add broth or bouillon and continue cooking.

3. Add all your spices - chili powder, cumin, curry powder, oregano, cocoa powder, cayenne pepper, Tabasco red pepper flakes and black pepper - and stir well into the chicken/onion mixture. Allow to simmer for 10 - 15 minutes - stirring occasionally. This makes for fairly hot chili. For a milder chili cut back on the curry powder, cayenne, red pepper flakes or Tabasco sauce to your own taste. Don’t cut back on the chili powder - it adds flavor, not hotness.

4. Add stewed tomatoes to the mixture, allowing tomatoes to cook down for about 10 minutes (this is a good time to get all the peppers and zucchini prepared). Use the reserve liquid later to thin down the chili before serving if necessary.

5. Add the olives, zucchini, peppers and tomato sauce to the pan and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes.

6. 15 - 20 minutes prior to serving add the kidney beans and allow to heat thoroughly.

7. Just prior to serving add the fresh lemon/lime juice and stir through the sauce. This adds a freshness to the chili and takes the “edge” off the hotness. Add the reserve tomato liquid to thin down the chili if necessary.

8. Garnish with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, fresh cilantro and/or grated cheddar cheese prior to serving.

The chili is even better reheated the next day - or served cold on a hot summer day.


Check out other Cowboy Jeffie recipes.

© 2010 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives