The mighty Saul Bass said: “Design is thinking made visual” and this is very much so in the logo design field. Creating logo designs that are just graphics with no thought or storyline associated with them is not only a waste of the designer’s time but more importantly, is a disservice to the client.
In today’s marketplace, competition is tough and hence small businesses find it very difficult to come up with the funds to have a properly designed brand identity. When an entrepreneur first starts a company, their focus is on bootstrapping and spending as little as they can. That is a smart thing to do. But an, even more, the smarter thing to do is to prioritize spending and spend on things that make the most impact on the business’s success.
So, when small businesses try and find the cheapest logo designer on the planet and consider even that an expense, logo designers have no choice other than to offer their services for cheap which results in spending as little time as possible on the discovery process, brainstorming and more detrimentally on the actual sketching and designing phase.
In fact, these days, hardly any designers use pencil and paper to sketch out ideas when they are designing a logo from scratch. By not drawing out ideas and doodling or thumb sketching, designers lose a critical component of thinking and ideation. Some designers may disagree with me. Perhaps they feel that diving into design software such as Adobe Illustrator or God forbids, into Photoshop and then simply building shapes to create logo designs is logically not the right way to go.
I am not saying that logo designers should be illustrators or fine artists and spend inordinate amounts of time drawing away. The point of drawing or sketching out ideas is to enable the designer properly explore the ideation process. When you are building shapes or vectors directly in the software, there would be a great temptation to tweak and build upon the artwork even though the designer has a gut feeling that it may not be the right design for the client. This happens because you become vested in the artwork that you create on a computer and because of the digital nature, it is easy to save and resume work.
On the other hand, we can easily stop a sketch or a drawing mid-way though and crumple the paper and throw it in the bin. Since childhood, we are used to doodling on paper and then discarding them. This enables the designer to try out various ideas freely without becoming attached to any of them. The designer can then evaluate the various thumb sketches and chose the strongest ones to take forward to the next round.
Drawing and sketching also enhance the designer’s idea mining process and out of box thinking. When you are not distracted by the various elements on your screen, the various tools of the software to use and possible interruptions such as emails or social media alerts etc, you can much more focused on the ideas and achieve better results.
I typically draw 20 to 30 thumbnail sketches on a regular ruled notebook for any given concept before I even begin sorting them out and deciding which ones merit a further look. I do these very rapidly with out refining them – except perhaps some shading. These ideas are generated from the in-depth research and brainstorming I would do during the discovery phase. I do look at reference images or photos during the sketching process to help me understand how best to represent a certain shape or angle.
After the thumbnail sketching phase, I chose 5 or 6 string ideas and then redraw them on white sheets of paper. This time I take much more time and try to get more refinement and accuracy in my drawings. I still use a pencil. After this, I use a light box and trace paper to trace out the designs and while doing so, I refine the lines and shapes to improve them. Sometimes I draw and redraw till I am satisfied with the cleanness of the lines and shapes and till I believe that the artwork would enable me to build clean vector artwork. I am my own worst critique and I keep art directing myself all the while to ensure only the best ideas make it through this process.
If you are drawing and sketching your logo designs, then I encourage you to do it more. If you are not then I would suggest you start doing so. Drawing and sketching can be such a powerful tool in your skill set and the results will always speak for themselves.