Why I Should Not Become a Graphic Designer
I am so excited to show you the NerdKicks logo!
Holy catchphrase, Batman! Was I nervous to tackle this part of the project! How do you come up a logo for a term that you've coined?
I'd like to think that I have a good eye for design, in that I'm capable of recognizing it when I see it. But as the official proofreader at my company, my eye is better trained for noting visual incongruities than for developing new visual content. As I often remind our sales team, we leave collateral design to the professional. (His name is Eric and he is very patient.)
I live in awe of visual designers, people for whom this kind of creative development becomes second nature. Before this project, the closest thing to a logo I'd designed was this, as part of a birthday present:
In my Google-fied Latin, the motto reads "Words Are Mightier Than Dragons."
Frankly, I'd planned to leave logo development in Matt's capable hands. But some projects won't sit quietly in the corner and thoughts of our logo continually nagged me for several days. "Go bother Matt," I tried to tell the thought, but instead it plopped down on my keyboard like a needy kitty and refused to leave until I gave it some attention.
Don't worry, I'll take the blog post from here.
The Logo Concept
We are working with two ideas, the sidekick and a nerd. To me, the most recognizable image of a sidekick is this:
Robin, wearing his black mask. Photo courtesy of Martin.Jessica
The most recognizable image of a nerd is this:
All nerds have tape on their glasses, right? Photo courtesy of ThatEpicNerdd
What about a logo with an image of the mask with tape on the bridge? I shot off the idea in an email to Matt; he responded quickly with "Love this!"
And here my troubles began.
I have a Pete-Holmesian desire for approval,* and as soon as someone tells me they love my idea, it triggers a creative arms race, an epic quest to top myself, to make it better, to get an even bigger response. I decided to take a crack at mocking up the logo myself.
This despite the fact I've never drawn anything in Photoshop.
This is how I approach all my craft projects. I don't set out to learn needlepoint, but rather I decide that needlepoint is the only route to creating the project I see in my head, I research the hell out of it, and tackle the project, failing again and again until I've built up enough skill to execute my vision. I've written about the process here.
If I may venture to speak for nerd-kind, I believe this is our true gift: we view challenges as puzzles to be solved, and then (and this is the key), we figure out how to break that puzzle into steps that lie just within our reach. We are masters of achieving flow.
"You know that what you need to do is possible to do, even though difficult, and sense of time disappears. You forget yourself. You feel part of something larger.” -- Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi**
Now, if you've used Photoshop, you can guess now how my version of the logo turned out. The program has a steep learning curve and cannot be mastered in a night. I spent the first hour in a state of flow, happily drawing Bezier curves. I may have even bragged to my cats at some point.
But then I tried to fill in color, and everything went to hell in a handbasket. I spent the next three hours searching help files, watching YouTube tutorials and swearing profusely at the program. I always feel a mix of shame and resentment when I can't Google search my way out of a problem.
Eventually Andrew figured out my mistake--I'd begun with an incorrect setting, meaning this logo had been doomed from the beginning. Just before midnight, I chucked all of my work and started over. I emerged at 2:30 with this:
Not our final logo.
I was inordinately proud of it, despite the fact that it's not that...well...it's not that great. I had tackled yet another scary project and hadn't completely humiliated myself. This is how all my favorite hobbies begin.
Matt took a few passes at the logo:
Closer, but the tape isn't quite right.
The tape turned out to be our downfall. We just couldn't get it right, and so finally, we called in a professional. Matt's friend Jonathan, also known as ByBloggers, did us a big ole favor and made us this:
The official NerdKicks logo! Yay, Jonathan!
Folks, you should have heard me squeal when Matt emailed it to me! With Jonathan's help, we'd conquered our first big hurdle.
In the process, it reminded us of one of the tenets of the NerdKick philosophy. In trying to design the logo ourselves, Matt and I tried to be heroes. We failed. Thankfully, Matt had enough sense to turn to a friend with the knowledge and skills to pull off the project.
And Jonathan—our nerdkick—saved the day.
Next Time: Our first recordings, and why closets should have power outlets. If you haven't done so, please sign up for our mailing list (and tell all your nerdy friends)!
*Corey, that joke was for you. :-D
**I'd like to wholly endorse the sponsor of that video, Lynda.com. I have a monthly subscription and have learned tricks that have made me so happy I cried. Like legit tears of joy, yo!