Having fun with the process always leads to a better end product.
When I’m feeling stagnant or stuck in my career I’ll often create my own design projects to liven things up a bit. A compulsion will overtake my body and I’ll look for quick things I can undertake to expel some of that extra creative energy. I don’t always set out with a purpose for the project either. Sometimes it won’t have purpose until after it’s complete.
The piece at the center of this post is a perfect example of something I created without any real purpose, but have managed to turn into a look inside my creative process.
I created the above logo when I stumbled across the typeface below called “The Bartender Typeface Collection” on Creative Market. (The font is actually called “Bartender”). After digging through CM for inspiration and stumbling upon this bold slab serif/script family, I was immediately compelled to make a logo with it. I set off to make something that felt warm, and fuzzy and a little bit vintage of my own so I set off to pull together all the ingredients.
I should mention that before starting on the project I intentionally set out to basically create something exactly like the image above, but after I got going I was able to push past what I had intended and moved into something more interesting.
Before I got started I put together a short mental list of everything I knew I would need in order to put something together quickly:
- Purchase Bartender Type Collection: √
- Research color palettes: √
- Decide on a theme (liquor): √
- Choose a platform for sharing: √
- Design everything in Adobe Illustrator CC: √
Step One: Typography
Purchasing and installing the typeface family only took a moment, and before long I was unpacking the fonts and taking a look at each of them pretty closely in an Illustrator art board. I started to get a sense for the different weights, and began notice the subtleties in heights and styles between all 14 fonts. The next step would be to identify a color palette that would start to bring the project to life.
Step One: Color Research
Finding the right colors might have been the easiest part of this entire process because all I did was a Google search for “retro color palettes” and pulled a few images into my art boards to start dissecting and playing with.
Granted, I was also able to do this quickly because I had a rough idea of the direction I was going in based on the type I had selected and from seeing how that type was used in the marketing materials on the sales page.
I chose two color palettes that contained variations of orange and green, with one being slightly more chromatic than the other to give me a means of comparison. I find it can be very helpful to put the colors you do want alongside colors you might not have thought of to self-validate your decision making. As your design unfolds on your art board it can be helpful to make quick changes that contradict your own direction in order to solidify the decision as a good one in your mind.
I spent a good deal of time looking at the way the colors in the palettes I had downloaded worked with one another. I did my best to visualize what the process more or less looked like below:
The color palettes I picked up from Shutterstock, while a good starting point, ended up needing some tweaking, specifically to the dark green if I was going to make the orange legible over top of it, so I adjusted it’s hue slight and was ready to start diving into the design.
Building and playing and making it up as I go
It was important to me that I try to break conventionality a good bit and have fun with some weird compositions. I had been drinking a bit, but I was also inspired by the name of the typeface, so I deliberately set out to replicate the style of the “The Bartender” cover photo from the Creative Market site. I then broke that down into the other four logos logos you’ll see below.
I set out with the intention of trying to create differing styles that would somehow feel a little awkward. I wanted the logos to feel like the product of the namesake. I also wanted to be clear that I wasn’t going for perfection and above all else I wanted this to be a quick exercise in exploring the type collection I had just purchased.
I took a few risks with the typeface, which admittedly don’t all work well, but also aren’t completely awful either. Their executions are a little haphazard, perhaps, but their intent is made more meaningful by their lack of craft.
Something else I was cognizant of when I was making these pieces fit was trying to find interesting ways for the typefaces to interact with each other. This entire logo family lacks a core logo piece, so the identity that prevailed was much more about exploring the type’s versatility than defining one specific and coherent mark.
Taking it a step further?
Sometimes you just need to see what a logo looks like a business card, even if it’s out of scope or never going to be printed.