Friday, January 10, 2014

Design is ELEMENTARY, My Dear Watson OR Please Stop Talking To Me, I'm Busy Reading.

     Seasons Greetings One and All.  I trust at this point everyone is more or less ready for the Holidays.  I myself sit here drinking some fresh homemade egg-nog and feel quite relaxed. I still have a few last minute gifts to get and send; e-giftcards mostly, but mostly I am done Christmas Shopping. Now, having everything wrapped and ready is definitely another story altogether, and here I sit Blogging away, lol.

     I have been wanting to take the time to share some about a logo I design this past year.  It has been unveiled and I have also obtained permission to share it with you here on the SketchBlog.  I have been meaning to post this for weeks, but the Holidays have a tendency to fill your dance card.  In any case, I am glad to share it with you now.  You may think of it as a little Christmas Gift, though I mean that more so jokingly.  I am not at all so egotistically to mean that last sincerely ;0)

     This past year I was hired to design a logo for the 221B Con, a fan conference for all things Sherlock Holmes.  You don't have to be a member to attend the Con, but if you join there are obvious perks to being a Con Member when you attend.  For more information about the 221B Con please visit their website  There are different levels of membership, and the Diogenes Club is the highest and most premium membership of all of them.  I was hired to create the image to represent and promote this group.

     Like any project, I begin at the very beginning, research! research! research!  In the original Sir Aurthur Conan Doyle novels, the Diogenes Club is mentioned in several of the Holmes stories, the most notable being The Greek Interpreter.  It is the name of a Gentleman's Club that Sherlock Holmes and his brother, Mycroft, were known to patron.  A Gentleman's Club in Victorian England could be compared to the modern day Country Club or organizations like The Shriners or Moose Lodge. 
A place where learned civilized Englishmen could go and socialize.  The Diogenes Club, however, was different in this aspect because, in the novels, the men do not socialize with each other. The Club is usually as quiet as a library and quite as anti-social as a Gentleman's club could get. It was also alluded that secret meetings of a mysterious nature might be held in the back rooms of this Club and the it worked as a front for this purpose.  For more on the literary source, you should read the Sherlock Holmes novels simply because they are SO Absolutely Wonderful. ;0)

     Diogenes was also the name of a man who lived 412-323 B.C., more often referred to as Diogenes the Cynic.  He was a Greek philosopher and one of the founders of Cynic philosophy.  I'm certain this grouchy old codger had some influence on Doyle when creating the idea of the Gentleman's Club in the Sherlock Holmes novels.  Perhaps it was The Cynic's personality that he wished to associate this particular Gentleman's Club with.  Since it has so little mention in the literary source, I am certain that this is the reason.  To allude to the types of gentlemen that might be members of such a club.  I had to understand the historical and literary sources before I could really come up with some solid concepts for this logo.

    Just for fun, I have the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes films playing in the background.  I absolutely love Robert Downey, Jr.'s portrayal of the Holmes character. It is certainly my favorite Holmes. Though, on the same token, I do feel that I have to mention that Cumberbatch's Holmes is the very best. 

     Anyway, I came up with several concepts for this logo.  Among my favorite Ideas were using Diogenes the Cynic's Dog as the symbol and icon of the club.  He was to be dressed as a Victorian English Gentleman and holding a book under his arm.  Another was to transform a small stack of books into English gentlemen and have each Man Book represent a different literary genre.  I also liked the idea of transforming two side-sitting top hats into the pages of an open book, which can eloquently be done graphically.  I admit this latter, I have put on my list to do in my own time as I truly LOVE the idea and concept behind this graphic.
 Also, I had come up with an idea of cross walking canes with a top hat in front of them.  I was going to make this look like an old wooden sign that would hang form various businesses in London, England during the time that the novels were set in. None of these ideas were the winner.  In all fairness, my clients selected a really nice and clean concept to represent the Con group.  In the end, I definitely think they chose the best concept option for this project.

     As you can see from the finished logo, that the image depicts an English Gentleman in profile view holding his hand over his mouth which was later changed to a gesture of touching his chin.  He also has a book tucked under his arm.  I will go through step by step, the process and meaning behind the visual decisions made for this project.

      With the concept chosen, I began researching my visual aid and reference for the project.  I knew early on that the Dress and attire of an English Gentleman would be a requirement for all of my concept options, so I already had plenty of visual aid for that. 
My clients were inspired by the Graphic version of the FatMan that I had completed earlier that same year.  They said they loved the look of that image and wanted me to create something similar but conceptually appropriate for them.  I began to draw caricatures of English Gentlemen using different images of random people and celebrities to base my drawings off of.  I created a geometric icon for this caricature. I knew I wanted him to be incomplete profile and I wanted the composition to be based on 3 shapes: the triangle, the circle and the zig-zag shape of a lightening bolt.  I lightening shape was really more to add visual interest to the design.  It brought a sense of visual movement to the logo.
 The circle was used to frame the graphic.  I chose the shape of the monocle to reinforce the idea that this was a gentleman's club.  It was a symbol to represent education level.  I changed the gesture of the man holding his mouth to just touching his chin as it was really awkward, visually, when it was put into practice. This change still evoked keeping the mouth shut.  It represented the quiet nature of the Club the logo was referencing, literately. In the end there were two sketches. One was more like a general purpose English Gentleman and the other was more to represent Mycroft specifically.  In the end, the more Triangular General Purpose Man worked best between the two. The client also, obviously, agreed, as that was the final choice.

     I began to build the graphic in my vector program. You can see below the development and progress of the graphic in these screen shots. 


     After the final graphic was completed, I began to put together options for the typography.  In my research, I gathered many type options from advertisements to packaging examples. 
Victorian type leaned more towards handmade/hand-done typography which seemed fancy yet simple in form.  Whereas, advertising design used very decorative and ornate design elements in combination with the hand type. 
I wanted to employ this same form to the logo, but without making it too busy or difficult to shrink and still be legible.  I had a few different options as you can see below.

     Moving on from type to color, the icon looked fine and dandy in black and white, but how could we work color into it.  Again I turned to the most wonderful resource book on color schemes and use through different time periods in history.  I can not recommend this book enough to every artist who works in a commercial art industry. It is such a great tool for helping choose period appropriate and accurate color for design and illustration.  Again, I went through several developments in color choice for this logo.

In the end, the client and I worked collaboratively on the final color choice for the graphic.

      After those decisions were made, the graphic complete, the rest is pretty much a cake walk.  It really was just a matter of putting all the separately combed over and scrutinized elements together to make the whole.  There was still just a bit more tweaking after the first time everything was all in one piece but ultimately it didn't change much because all those decisions were previously made in small steps.  Not be entirely Romantic in saying this, but it was kind of like how Holmes would solve his mysteries.  He would break down everything into the smallest detail, scrutinize and analyze it all separately and then piece it all back together into his final solution/conclusion.  I liked thinking in some way that this connected me to the characters.  I think I spent maybe a bit over 1 month working on this project with my clients and over the course of that time, much of it was spent with these beloved literary characters.  I dove into that world again head first and immersed myself into it.  I do this often with any subject matter related to a current project, as I believe that this strategy brings on the most honest and brilliant visual results and ideas.

     I was no stranger to the Doyle stories, as I had read them in my youth as well as listened to many of them over again on audio book (which I still have) when I worked on a character development project in college.
The concept and character treatment were to be used for a television concept/pitch for a studio to produce.  Many would not know that I earned a degree in Animation as well as Illustration.  In fact, Animation was my first true love and the initial reason for choosing my Alma Matter.  It was only later that I realized that Illustration and Graphic Design were a better fit for me artistically and personally.

Though, to be honest with myself (and all of you), it would be unfair not to mention that I daydream of going back into that industry, but as a character design or layout artist,  maybe even story board and story development.  Unfortunately, at the time, there was a fork in my path and I had to choose which to pursue and I chose illustration.  I may, in future, produce an independent animated short film; something small, something I could manage on my own.  It is an itch that begs scratching.   In any case, I won't go too much into the concept behind that pitch other than it involved time travel and evoked a similar feel as the Scooby Doo mystery cartoons. :0)

Back to the subject at hand...

     I always like to provide a type only option for my clients when I develop a logo, unless they specifically object or request I not do so. 
I feel that they coexist with each other, representing the same branding, but come in different forms and can function in a different manner.  Also, in today's world of business, you need an even smaller icon for use on Social Media, which is becoming a large part in the way that clients interact with their patron businesses.  It's actually a very cool and groovy thing. 
Something come true out of a Science Fiction novel.  So below you will see those other sister/brother designs that complete the branding system for the Diogenes Club.

     In conclusion, Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope you have enjoyed some insight into the project and some of the reasons for the visual choices that were made.  In the meantime, check out the webpage for the 221B Con and register for the upcoming Con.  Who wouldn't cherish a weekend sharing your love for one of literature's greats and possibly the greatest and most clever detective of all time, even though he is fictional.  If you go, perhaps I will see you there, as I will be attending the Con this next year. 


     Real Quick, Thanks SO Much to my wonderful clients and friends Crystal Noll and Heather Holloway and the rest of the 221B Con for the WONDERFUL Christmas Gift of a lapel pin with this logo I designed on it. I LOVE it and have been wearing it ever since. :0)

Until next time
Keep sketching, keep thinking, keep laughing and most important of all, keep making art.  

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I love what you did. I think I prefer the black and white but that is because I just love black and white.