I have been wanting a good logo for The Portable Baby ever since 2005, which is when I started that venture. I came up with a header image on the fly just to get something up on the page, and since I'm not an artist at all, this is what it turned out like:
It's not completely horrible, but it's not exactly memorable either. It is what it is, plain and simple. Like an REI catalogue page or something. Ho hum.
Late last year, I finally got around to working on the logo thing. I called a big design firm and asked them what a logo would cost. $4500, they told me.
Holy shit, I said to myself.
So then I outsourced. I found a logo designer in India who was charging a little bit less than half of that. I liked her stuff, she seemed entirely capable. I didn't LOVE her stuff, but I felt like she knew what she was doing, and she had gotten rave reviews from former customers. And I'm no logo designer, what do I know...right? Leave it to a professional.
The lesson that I have learned this year? If I don't love something, forget it. Drop it and move on to something else. Don't buy it, don't sign up for it. Life is too damn short. I don't have nearly enough time or resources for all the stuff that I *do* love. If I don't love it, it's not right for me. Wait for the love to happen, THEN take action.
A prime example of that here. Logo Chick was nice enough, but she just never got what my business was about. I explained it all sooo many times, filled out an entire sheet with info on what I wanted the logo to do, what message I wanted to convey, what target market I was trying to reach, blah, blah, blah. Then I repeated myself in emails. She just NEVER GOT IT.
At first, I suggested using the initial letters of "The Portable Baby" to create a groovy design. Dan and I actually came up with something pretty cool on a scrap of paper, but then I think Adrian ate it. It disappeared during the height of his paper-eating phase. Then I forgot what we had done, and what it looked like. Sigh. But I was able to vaguely describe the idea to Pro Logo Chick, as you know, just an idea to potentially kick around.
Pro Logo Chick had a fairly decent rendition, after several misses. This was round five or six:
Not bad, right? But I was trying to imagine this on my website as-is, and it was just too blah, too abstract, too black-and-white. But a good start, I thought. I was thinking more along the lines of an illustrated, fancy something-something, and not a stick figure, but hey...I'm not the expert, right?
I said I liked this, but I needed to convey motion, travel, portability, getting out and going places. This? This was more like sitting under a tree. Not bad, but not exactly screaming THE PORTABLE BABY. More like, sit under a tree and hold your baby. I also asked for less abstraction and more color.
That's when it got weird. She started coming up with some very bizarre and ugly stuff:
OK, WHY would I want the text all mashed into the image like that? Is there any possible way that someone could look at that and think that it was NOT a mistake? Ooops, my Photoshop text layer slid too far left. Should I fix it? No, I'll send it to my client. And what's with the font? Screams 1980s Geek to me. Atari anyone? How about a game of Space Invaders?
Plus wow...what a sophisticated concept. Those two DASHES to the left of the figure indicating motion. DASHES. WTF?
Oh, and here's where she adds color. Did I already say WTF? Well just in case I didn't...WTF?
So I said no, no, no, I DON'T LIKE THAT AT ALL. Please move the text away from the image. Get rid of those dashes. That color is ALL WRONG. And I explained the motion concept again. So she sent this:
Which is a mom and baby riding a flaming ski lift. Or at least that's what it looks like to me. Pretty scary.
But wait, it was about to get scarier! After firmly nixing the flaming ski lift thing I suggested maybe, I don't know, an arrow? How about an arrow to indicate motion?
She first ridiculed me (an arrow is WAY too obvious!), which I didn't really get, because hey, I want to be obvious! I want people to look at this thing and say to themselves, THAT MEANS I CAN TAKE MY BABY ANYWHERE. They shouldn't have to puzzle over it, like wonder if maybe it's really a ski lift, and is it on fire?
It looks like it might be on fire! Yikes! I don't want to ride a flaming ski lift with my baby! Fuck this place, I'm going to BabiesRUs!
Anyway yeah, obvious is good, I think. But noooo, not to Logo Chick. But she valiantly made an effort to incorporate some arrows.
This is where the mom and baby are riding the ski lift BACKWARDS. Because that would be fun, right? Not nerve-racking or anything. Especially when it's time to get off the lift, and it's moving backwards, and you have a baby in your lap....um, I am not trying to provoke a major anxiety attack in my audience, thanks very much. My target audience is stressed enough as it is.
And here's where there's a bear offstage...he is clawing the mom's eyes out. You can see his claw piercing her eyeball here. Ouch!
Awesome, right? I was literally ready to tear my hair out at this point. Is she fucking with me?
IS SHE FUCKING KIDDING ME? WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD COME UP WITH THIS STUFF?
I think it was at that point that I just halted all correspondence with her. I just couldn't take any more. Pointless. Pointless waste of time and money. She emailed me a few more times, asking if I was OK, could I get back to her, and I just couldn't respond. Because if I did I would have to open a giant can of whup-ass and tell her she must be NUTS for sending me this kind of COMPLETE BULLSHIT.
I put the logo plans aside. I had been pretty excited, but this demoralized me. What a letdown. What a waste of money. I fiddled around with the initial concept, and made it somewhat palatable, but still...too abstract. Too blah. I didn't want a stick figure. I wanted a beautiful illustrated logo, lively and descriptive and colorful. Memorable!
I have always loved the graphic product advertisements from the early-to-mid century. Mostly European products. Works of art. Everyone buys posters of these ads, they are in every little cafe and bistro, and you know, I don't remember the last time anyone bought a poster of say, the IBM logo for the aesthetic viewing pleasure.
I know, not really a logo, but oh well. I wanted an illustrated logo. I had...nothing.
Time passed, nothing happened.
Then I got an email from Dominic, with a link to a very funny website created by a friend and ex-coworker of his, Tina Kugler. (There is an umlaut over the U in Kugler, but I can't do it on my keyboard without major machinations, and it's already getting late.)
I found Tina's drawings hilarious, and I loved her style too.
In one of her drawings, she mentioned looking for freelance work:
And DING! The light bulb went off over my head. Maybe TINA could do my dream logo! Obviously she gets motherhood. She's funny. She's amazingly talented. Why not ask, right?
So I asked. I told her very, very briefly what I was looking for. I told her I didn't have a lot of money to spend, since I had already fruitlessly WASTED a load of it on Logo Chick. I even sent some of the worst that Logo Chick had to offer as an example of what I was NOT looking for.
And Tina? Bless her, she said yes. She said she would try to work on some rough sketches and send them to me, when she got a chance. She does have three small children mind you. THREE, including a 9mo baby. So I figured, I don't know...2010 maybe? Take my two kids, add one more....yeesh.
But no...amazingly she came up with not one, not two, but THREE awesome sketches. THE SAME DAY. I picked one (hard to do) and she sent a more polished sketch back, almost immediately. And finally, today, she sent me this:
Which is more than I ever hoped for. Isn't it great? I just love, love LOVE it.
The only thing that might need to be changed is the title, because it's not quite as readable when you shrink it down to website logo header size. So I'll probably take out her hand-drawn title and add in "The Portable Baby" in my current Maiandra GD font. I've already checked it out, it looks good.
I am SO pleased. More than pleased, I'm thrilled. It's everything I wanted. I can't wait to make T-shirts!
So if you have any illustration needs, like maybe you need a change of address postcard or a product label, or a party invitation, or someone to illustrate a children's book or maybe even just a tattoo, Tina is your woman. Did you know that she worked on Dora the Explorer? Spread the word. She ROCKS. Here's her website again:
Now I just need to update my website. I can't wait to go live with my new look. Exciting! Yippee!
Oh, and Logo Chick? IN YOUR FACE, BABY!