I've always had a fascination with logos. One of my favorites being the now-defunct Northwest Airlines. Our family had been signed up to its frequent flyer program ever since I could remember, but I never really understood the logo whenever I'd come across it.
Until one day it dawned on me.
At first glance it simply looks like an italicized "N" in a circle. But look closely, and the triangle to the left represents the "W" with a part of it having been removed. Not only that, but the triangle is also pointing to the upper left quadrant of the circle or the cardinal direction north-west on a compass.
Brilliant! The design was thought up by Landor Associates, the same brand consultancy firm that made the FedEx logo (have you seen its hidden arrow?!).
While the logo plays a large part in a company's branding, the logo itself almost never encapsulates whatever it is that that company does or makes, or what services it provides. Yet, an effective logo can stand on its own and eventually become the single identifier of a brand, lifestyle, or product.
When I decided late last year to design my first "real" logo, I knew I obviously had to incorporate some aspect of photography in it. I thought of rolls of film, lenses, camera bodies, tripods, anything I could think of that would seamlessly include my initials in the design. I also knew I wanted another logo that would distinguish my lifestyle and portrait work from wedding photography.
And it all ended up taking just one Sunday afternoon.
Yet, having said that, I took several more weeks refining and adjusting it pixel by pixel before showing them to anyone. Then after that, I waited almost three months before making them "live" here on my website and on Facebook.
It took a little brainstorming and some rough sketches, but from there, it was just a matter of execution. I looked at a signature-esque logo but the initials GOP kind of set me off that path pretty quickly. Then I tried to play on the idea of the Orion constellation as a visual element but then realized Jasmine Star already had the corner on that. I settled on the idea of using the lens as the "O".
So I went with that. I had experimented with my Wacom tablet the year before sketching my D300s and had gotten quite adept at using it.
First sketch circa August 2011
I ended up getting carried away (though happily and content), and the outcome just seemed too stiff. It did end up being a neat little gif, though—which reinforces the importance of using layers for different elements so you can isolate changes if and when you need to get back to them.
So it was back to the drawing board. Using the Brush tool freehand yielded inconsistent results, so I turned to my newly acquired skill of using the Pen tool. I outlined the basic camera shape and gave it a hint of a tilt just to make it seem a little dynamic. This ended up being fortuitous because had it been level, the circular part of the "g" would have looked misaligned with the grip part of the camera. The letters, however, still needed to be hand drawn and after some—okay, a lot—of trial and error, zooming out and therefore making the lines shorter stroke-wise made the letters a lot cleaner and consistent.
The final product
While I was at it that afternoon, I also wanted to design a logo for my wedding photography—the aspect which I wanted to focus on more and eventually become the core of my business.
I knew I was onto something after the first design, but kept getting stuck on something that looked too similar to the GQ logo and Chanel's. I chuckled a bit to myself at the thought of being associated with those brands.
I ended up Googling wedding bands and found one that would make the most sense as a base template. After some vectoring and more Pen tool magic, I came up with another logo! Where I had gone for a grey tone, a recurring theme in my previous work, this time I decided to add the gold color later on so it would have the kind of lasting, regal quality to it.
As far as the typeface goes, it was really just a kind of natural progression from my earlier watermarks.
I had fallen in love with Century Gothic—with a twist. Its vertical scale is adjusted to 105 percent of the default with the tracking set to -100. And in deciding to omit the space between my first and last name, using italics and bold helped separate the two words. This inadvertently led to the "LE" being adjoined at the bottom. I sliced out a roughly equivalent spacing as the other letters, and made the center staff of the G also tilt a bit. The word "photography" was then set to fill the width of the words above.