Recently, someone asked me a question. They asked a graphic design question, sort of, but it was more of a personal question. A sort of “How can I do this?”

The question went something like

“I love looking at a logos and trying to figure out how it was created. I’d like to get into graphic design, but I can’t draw. How could someone who can’t draw design logos? What steps would they take if they can’t draw?”

I was sort of surprised, since most questions about my work don’t tend to dig so deep. My response became a defining distinction between art and design. I explained logo design should have a goal, while art may be expressive without an end goal. It went something like this.

Art and Design are NOT the same thing. Different words, different definitions, different approaches.

I’ve been an artist since birth, always drawn. Been doing graffiti for 25 years, painting with acrylics for about 20 years, have painted several murals for public art projects and private commissions, freelanced in graphic design & web development, including multimedia and some animation for about 19 years.

Trust me, drawing has little to do with logo design.

Art is expressive. Design is problem solving.
Creativity function in both, but they are separate. I’ve designed logos artistically if called for, but generally design with intent is my approach.

Art

1. The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

Design

1. a plan or drawing produced to show the look and function or workings of a building, garment, or other object before it is built or made.

2. purpose, planning, or intention that exists or is thought to exist behind an action, fact, or material object.

I research symbols, ancient and recent, I study logos in the field and industry, look at competitors, use color psychology, use online tools to create color schemes, reduce them, remix them and compare to successful marketing campaigns.

Concepts can be mood boarded, Photoshopped together, cut and pasted from magazines (the way it was done back before computers). Logo design is about communication, branding and usually sales or money in some way, if not money, an end goal. That goal is what must drive the design and the intent.

Designing a logo from scratch without drawing is easy, changing the way you think about logo design and moving away from art, yet toward creative problem solving and brand building is the way to go.

 

Logos are identities, faces we see first, voices we hear first.

It’s who the brand is at a glance.

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