This gala journal cover is one of my favorites, created for a Purchase College fund-raising event. The brief stated that there would be a white piano on a black stage for a featured entertainer to play. The “bubble P” logo was enlarged and used to represent a piano (center), and the typographic swash elements became motifs that extended throughout the journal. Lighting equipment at the event projected the same swashes onto the stage.
While a grad student at Cranbrook Academy of Art, which is just outside of Detroit, I was asked by a client (I was designing promotions for her art gallery) if I would work on designs for her dad’s gravestone—her dad died six months earlier and they never marked the site. The project included roughs, changes, and refinements, just as a standard job would, but during the final placing of the stone there were tears and statements by the family. It was all quite overwhelming for me as a young designer, but I still cherish the opportunity I had back then.
An apple is a very popular image and has operated as a sign to represent knowledge (think Adam and Eve’s forbidden fruit), as well as to symbolize elementary education as in “an apple for the teacher,” and also as a sign of health as in “an apple a day.” Here, Worksight used the apple as a kind of piled-on-pride of successes for a Pace University’s School of Education brochure.
Logo design by Worksight for the Polyglot Press, a publisher of multi-language books and the republisher of out-of-print classics. The word “polyglot” in fact means: having the text translated into several languages: polyglot and bilingual technical dictionaries. The parrot is used not only because of the letter P, but also to symbolize the power of words and the speaking of truths.
Recently, I noticed a service logojoy that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to develop logos via an online algorithm. The idea is that a client will type in the coordinates starting with the name of their business, and continue with favored color palettes and effects to gather an endless stream of results. Yes, AI is moving into the graphic design field, and I admit that I was annoyed that yet another piece of the design pie was being eaten.
It’s nice to think of AI in terms of self-driving cars, which will save tens of thousand of lives every year. But the downside is that they will also eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs as well. Not much we can do other than to figure out how to ease the burden on truck, bus, and taxi drivers and find more positive ways for everyone to keep moving forward with their lives. It’s the same with graphic design, except for one major difference—we generally get paid to think, not to decorate.
Designers go through every trick, or “technique” in the book when fleshing out a logo exploration; things like reversals, textures, etc., so I must admit that the idea of our creative method being revealed and exposed is disconcerting. But here’s the rub—you can’t get people to properly coordinate their business’s collateral without a logo, and you can’t evolve a proper logo without something to work from. In other words, clients and fellow graphic designers can use the service to flesh out an exploration.
A visual identity can simply take a form, and there are plenty of terrible logos out there. But what makes them terrible is how empty they are of meaning. As my mentor, Charles Goslin, used to say, “Even a monkey can make something look good; but a monkey can never think of the idea.”
Now almost 30 years into his career as a small business owner running his own design studio in New York City, Scott Santoro has learned a ton about how to find new clients and what it takes to run a business with all the right pieces in place.
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Graphic design programs don’t offer many courses on the business aspect of design. The assumption is that you will learn the ropes while working for a firm, for example, how to correspond with clients, how to take a project from start to finish, and how to use good phone etiquette such as stating the name of the studio when answering a call.
A selfie shot during a lecture on graphic design featuring Pratt student work—presented live to design students in Beijing and Shanghai, China; with Xiaoren Liu (Catherine) per ANO Art China, and their subsidiary, Sphinx.