PM: Hey Ian, Thank you for connecting with us. It is a pleasure to have you here today.
Can you please tell us who or what inspired you to venture into the graphic design field and also the story behind the creation of Logo Geek?
IP: Always a pleasure!
I don’t have a short way to answer that question, as I feel it was lots of gradual steps.
From a young age I have always loved to draw, and loved my art and design classes at school. I was that kid that always won the school play ticket design competition, and had a drawing of mine on the local news channel (all very exciting!).
I finished formal education at 18, and went looking for work rather than continuing to university. After studying A levels in Art and Design I went on to look for a creative job, and discovered a ‘junior print finisher’ role at a local exhibition print studio. This was quite a hands on role where I would be responsible for taking printed work, and using materials and equipment to turn it into exhibition stands. I didn’t enjoy doing this, however it was my first exposure to a design team, and I knew I would rather be doing that.
After cutting my finger quite badly in this job, I decided to leave for the first job I could get. A friend got me a job at a warehouse for a medical company, just 10 minutes walk from where I lived. I was 18, and happy to do this temporarily. At the interview I did mention I wanted to work in design, which turned out to be a good move as they later offered me an opportunity to join their product support team.
In this new role it was primarily admin based, however a small percentage was designing posters for their national sales team. At this point I didn’t know any of the software, but I found it fairly self explanatory and asked questions when I got stuck. I was able to cobble posters together, and within a short period all of the design related tasks were coming my way.
I spent time learning at home and watching tutorial videos. After a few weeks of doing this I was able to put together a piece of print ready artwork which excited the company – they offered me training at the local print company, and my skills stemmed from there! After a few years, the team developed into a small design team.
After building up a vast portfolio of print based work, I decided I wanted to work on more varied design work, and ended up getting a lead design role at an ecommerce design agency. In this role I was designing anything from websites, to logos and exhibition stands! I’m still in this role today, however in a director position with a small team below me.
In my free time I’ve always liked to challenge my design skills, and take on personal side projects. One large project I worked on included an iPhone game – I came up with the idea, pitched it to friends and we got building! I did all the design work, and they helped to make it a real product. It was fun, but took years… I loved doing it, but as a side project it was exhausting.
Following this experience I wanted to continue to design in my free time, but needed to find a way to do short term design projects. My partner suggested logo design – she noticed I had a natural skill for this, and thought I should do more of it. As I have a love of illustration, and technical design this made sense.
I started out looking for a website url that included ‘logo’ – I listed ideas, and at the time almost nothing was available. After hours of looking I discovered logogeek.co.uk, and I thought it was worth registering. I set up a wordpress website, cobbled together a few logo examples I’d done for friends and family. After posting this on Facebook I started to get friends asking for logos, which I did for a low cost. With each project I’d add it to my portfolio.
After a while, I started to get ‘real’ enquiries from the site, and within a short period I got my first client that I didn’t know!
What started out as a bit of fun has stemmed from that day. I focussed more on making gradual improvements when I had time, and now here today my website ranks well on Google and I have frequent clients. I’m still tinkering and improving as it’s still not perfect!
As part of the promotion of my service I also started a social media page where I would share logo design resources. I found this sucked for getting clients, but I enjoyed doing it so did it anyway. I started on Facebook, then did the same on twitter. I’ve worked on it daily, and now have a thriving following.
I’m planning to focus on logo geek and see where I can take it… have lots of ideas.
PM: What are some key elements that you always include in your creative process?
IP: I always start with goals. These don’t come from the client, instead I create them. I ask the client a series of questions, then I use that information to create the goals. I ask the client to approve this list, and explain that I will refer to this during the design phase, and when presenting.
I’m a big fan of the sketchbook, and it’s always the place I start my idea generation process. I like using word mapping techniques as a starting point, as that helps me to see unexpected associations, and to visualise out of the box ideas. From this I then sketch every idea of think of – even the bad ones. Sketching bad ideas clears your mind of clutter, but it also sometimes spawns new ideas you couldn’t visualise in your mind.
Once I have a few solid ideas on paper I’ll jump into illustrator. I keep things rough – just to make sure a design works. Once I know I’ll take a copy and refine. I’ll keep copying and improving until it’s perfect. I find it worth keeping every evolution, so you can not only see the progress, but also jump back if the design starts to lose something.
I always include an incubation period. It’s worth taking time away from your design work, so you can see it with a fresh pair of eyes and make improvements if needed.
PM: How do you keep the creativity fire alive?
IP: Reading design books and blogs, and listening to podcasts tends to keep me buzzing and eager to do something new! My social group almost forces me to keep at this, even when I don’t feel like it, so my love and energy for design is almost always pretty high. There’s no much ‘free’ good stuff out there if you look for it.
PM: What does branding mean to you. And what made you decide to specialize in it?
IP: It’s exciting and fascinating. Not just the design side of it, but the business side of it too. I love that almost anyone can come up with a product or service, and make it happen. Design make’s that ‘thing’ a reality – it makes it something you can see, hold and interact with.
I’ve always found it fascinating how opinions can be fabricated by design. We don’t always chose the best product – we chose the best experience. The product with the best marketing, the best logo or design – the one that speaks to us individually… that whole experience has been designed.
I’ve been creative since a kid, but design allows that creativity to have function and purpose. Brand identity is exciting because you never stop learning, and there are no set rules – it all depends on the brand, the goals, and the problems you need to solve!
PM: Can you tell us the key ingredients that you think a perfect logo must have?
IP: Think SMART Simple, Memorable, Appropriate, Resizable and Timeless – if you can tick all the boxes you’re onto something!
PM: Does technology have a positive or negative impact on your creativity?
IP: Very positive. It’s so easy to do research! Imagine if you needed to go to the library to find a reference photo… projects would take weeks!
With the new tools available to us, it’s only a matter of time before computers are more like advanced sketchbooks anyway. Technology will only advance our creativity.
If for whatever reason you don’t like technology, just grab a pen, sketchbook and some tracing paper. Nothings stopping anyone doing things the old way.
PM: Can you share some interesting and exciting projects that you’re currently working on?
IP: I’ve just finished a logo for Manowar – a PC version of the Warhammer game that will be coming out early 2016.
I’ve also just finished a logo for a company called Red Miracle that runs a number of franchises including Dominos Pizza, Nanondos and Costa Coffee.
I’m also currently working on a new freebie! A PDF guide called 101 logo design tips. I’ve been able to get contributions from some of the highest profile designers in the world so I’m excited about this! If you sign up to my newsletter I’ll send a copy when it’s done. www.logogeek.co.uk/
PM: It wouldn’t be a fair design interview if I didn’t ask you this: Who are your top 3 favorite graphic designers of all time?
IP: For logo design I’d have to say Paul Rand, Michael Beirut and Aaron Draplin.
Paul Rand is like a god. If you read his advice on logo design and nobody else, you’ll do well. He was, and still is, one of the best.
PM: Do you have any tips for people who want to get into the graphic design industry?
IP: Portfolio is king. Your design work is what matters – not qualifications (although they can help!!). If you have no experience or qualifications, but you have a good portfolio, you can become a designer.
You need to show you work, and present it positively – don’t be shy about showing it off. If people don’t see it, they don’t know of your skills. Explain how you solved problems through design.
If you want to learn the tools of the trade, I recommend Skillshare. It’s full of great videos, and it’s low cost too.
PM: What’s on your design reading list at the moment?
IP: I always have stacks of books to read… Here today I have a book called ‘the one thing’ sat next to me. I’m hoping it will help me improve my logo geek service. I’ve also recently read TM, which was a good read!
I listen to a lot of audio books too. I’m currently listening to 7 habits of a highly successful person, and got lots of great advice from it.
PM: Where can people go to follow you and your projects?