It's a process - notes on design (no poker content at all)

Most of you know I teach; really, if you read this, how could you not. I've also run my own business for the last 10 years both full and part time, where I get to be a total design geek AND get paid for it.

It's pretty damn good when you can make some money with a passion. It helps support my poker passion, something that I do not make money at. Alas.

When I wear my business hat, I do design for both print and www; commercial and informational site design, custom blog templates, newsletters, marketing materials, business cards and logo design.

I love doing logos. It gives me something to sink my teeth into; this is something that all the branding hangs on, that determines the flavour of a business for lack of a better word. I'm not claiming to be the world's greatest graphic designer, far from it, but I've had the opportunity to work with a number of small businesses who have been very happy with what I've done, and I've built up a good, solid portfolio of work.

What I love about doing logos is the process and to be able to marry my geeky side and creative side. One of my design instructors of a course I took at OCAD said, good design is more than just being proficient at software. It needs to be creative, original, and thoughtful as well as technical. So FWIW, here's my process as applied to the Live Poker Radio logo.

First, I like to get a handle on the owner's personality/personalities as this permeates and colours the business. With LPR, I've talked with all the players. Then I take a look at the competition - what does their branding look like? What are they doing well? What works? What doesn't? This is pretty crucial from a copyright standpoint as well. Buddy's design is a good concept but I found other existing logos that incorporate radio iconography inside a poker chip and even though it's not an intentional duplication it could still lead to legal issues down the road.

Once that part of the process is done, it's time to get the creative juices flowing so to speak. Over the last 12 years I've built up a substantial library of reference books, catalogues and magazines like HOW and Communication Arts. I shudder to think how much I've spent on it all, but every time I flip through it for inspiration I'm reminded that it's worth it's weight in gold. I also check out sites like and do some keyword searches in photography and illustration for more ideas.

Putting pencil to paper
Now I usually have ideas popping all over the place, and start doodling and sketching old school style, with pencil and paper. I'll usually fill 5-10 pages, brainstorming as I go. Then it's time to take a break, and come back to the sketch book with fresh eyes to see what's crap and what's usable.

While it changes from culture to culture, there's a psychology to colours, to how we perceive them. When I was asked to make the logo three weeks ago, the colours mentioned were red and yellow. There's a solid reason why these colours are used in business logos. Red is an action colour that evokes strong emotions, excitement and intensity; I've listened to LPR and felt red echoed the energy. We pay more attention to red than any other colour...there's a reason why so many businesses use it. I was originally thinking of green there, the colour of money, but green has been successfully co-opted as the colour of environment concerns. Yellow has been shown to increase the metabolism (back to excitement), and since yellow is the most visible color, it is also the most attention-getting color making it good for an accent. Black is used for the text as it's a power colour, and it tends to draw our eyes to text as it's what we are most used to reading. Since the logo is going to be reproduced in print, www and in embroidery I kept the colours strong; gradients can be expensive and tricky to replicate in some media.

Since this is mainly going to be used online, I went with sans serif fonts as they are easier to read. Plus I always feel that serif fonts feel a bit old-fashioned, and LPR is anything but. The font of initials is futuristic, making me think of new media and new directions. The text font is strong, and echoes the slight futuristic feel of the other font, and has more interest than boring old Arial or Helvetica.

Creating the file
I love Adobe Illustrator. Adore it. Even more than PhotoShop. It's one of only two software programs I couldn't grok on my own, and had to take a course to stumble up that steep learning curve. I'm always glad of a reason to play around in the software. I originally designed the logo with the radio tower from BDR's original graphic for continuity, but felt it gave everything too much of a retro feeling for a relatively new way of delivering content. I kept the radio waves imagery, but skewed it slightly.

And this is what I ended up with:

It's clean, simple, forward thinking and easy to reproduce. Or at least that's what I was trying to go for *grin.

3 Responses to “It's a process - notes on design (no poker content at all)”

  1. # Blogger Instant Tragedy

    NIce... Loved the explanation!  

  2. # Blogger Memphis MOJO

    What a great post! I'm jealous; my creativity must be in there somewhere, but I can't find it.  

  3. # Blogger pokertart

    It looks awesome Kat!  

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