The Art of Logo. Part I: Your Media. Introduction | WebReference

The Art of Logo. Part I: Your Media. Introduction

[Dmitry's Design Lab]
Dmitry Kirsanov's monthly column
January 1997
T H E  A R T  O F  L O G O 
Part I: Your Media
Since pre-Web times, a logo has been a piece of graphics and/or text used as a company's symbol---a corporate identity.  On the Web, logos play an even more vital role: They often serve as the main graphic heading---or a part thereof---on the page and, consequently, the visual center of the entire page design.

Big companies can afford placing attractive, frequently changing, eye-catching visuals on their pages.  These visuals play the role of cover photos in magazines: A magazine's logo or title is still there, set in traditional font and providing for easy identification, but what really stops your eye is that big juicy photo.

On the Web, however, not everybody is supposed to look like a magazine.  For the majority of middle-sized businesses, temporary projects, personalities, and other beings deserving a web site of their own, a well crafted logo is the first and foremost place to show off the site creator's artistic skills.  Indeed, it's the quality of your graphics that many first-time visitors rely on to decide whether your page's worth delving a bit under the surface---and often the logo is literally the first piece of graphics they see.

This article is an attempt to reasonably explicate the mysteries of creating a piece of art---in our case, a logo.  Of course a great deal of a graphic artist's skills is untranslatable into words.  But still there are many things that are surprisingly easy to catch once you start thinking about them the right way.  The audience I had in mind when writing is an amateur webmaster that hasn't graduated from an art college but who has done at least some computer graphics and is eager to learn more.  If you're earnestly envious about the cool graphics you see on the best web sites, read on---I'll show you it's not really a magic.  Or, at least, not always magic.

The tutorial is divided into two parts.  The Part I that you're reading now is about your media, the materials you work on: forms, colors, fonts, and finishes.  The Part II will discuss the abstract "tools," that is, concepts you apply to your media: proportions, contrast, repetition, and nuances.  I'll avoid referring to a particular program or package; all effects and processes I mention must be available in any program you may be using.  The backbone of Part I is a sample logo project that we'll go through while getting acquainted with the foundations of The Art Of Logo.

Note: The sample logo shown in this article cannot of course be taken for a design chef d'oeuvre; it was only intended to illustrate some important points of the creative process. However, almost two years later I actually used the idea of this sample logo in a commercial logo design. Read the November 1998 Design Lab article for an account of that logo redesign project.


Created: Jan. 19, 1997
Revised: Jan. 23, 1997