If you have ever searched for logo design advice online, you are likely to have already came across Logo Geek. The young man behind the name, Ian Paget, has build a strong community of followers who find his daily logo design tips very useful and entertaining. We got in touch with Ian to learn more about his passion for logo design and his increasing popularity on social media channels. Here is what he shared with us…
1. Tell us more about yourself – where were you born, where do you live and work at the moment, what education do you have, what are your hobbies and passions?
I’m a graphic designer based in Reading (UK), which is a 30-minute train ride to central London. I was born in Swindon, but growing up I lived in a small village near Cirencester in Gloucestershire. I moved to Reading with my girlfriend six years ago for a career opportunity.
I work as Design Director for an eCommerce agency where I work on the design of websites, logos, brochures, and exhibition stands… basically anything visual. As part of the role, I also get involved with sales meetings, business processes and training too, among other things. In my free time I run my own side business called Logo Geek where I design logos, as well as run a social media group of the same name where I share logo design resources, news and tips with like minded designers.
I don’t have a formal design education. I’m mostly self-taught, through video tutorials, design books, suggestions and advice from peers and through physical experience. In terms of hobbies, I’m really passionate about design (obviously) so work on my own projects from time to time, but I also really love science (I read a lot about the topic and love related documentaries), I like meeting stars and collecting autographs, enjoy travelling, love watching movies (I’m a big Star Wars fan), and like playing with my pet cat called Scarlett…
2. How did you start your career as a logo designer?
There’s not a simple answer to this as it’s through a combination of experiences, but I will try to explain briefly.
I started out as a designer around 10 years ago. I didn’t go to university (I’m self taught), but from a young age had a natural talent and interest in design. I studied art and design at college and left when I was 18 in search of work.
My first job was as a trainee print finisher for a small exhibition company, where I would need to take printed artwork, and turn it into exhibition stands using a range of materials, machines and knifes. I didn’t enjoy the job. The hours were long, and very hands on. After badly cutting myself (which was normal in that line of work) I decided to leave and seek temporary employment elsewhere.
Being only 18, I spoke to a friend and got an interview to work in the warehouse for a medical company where he worked. This was intended to be only for a few months until I found something more suitable, but what I didn’t realise was that this company would prove to be important for my career. After working in the warehouse for a few months, I was invited to join one of the company’s office based teams, for a 3-week trial, where I could make use of my artistic skills.
The job was around 70% admin. But the rest of the time I would get to make posters for the sales team. I learned on the job, and in my free time I watched a lot of online design tutorials so I could improve my work. The team was impressed with my designs, so within a short space of time all the design related tasks came to me. They arranged further training with a local printing company, where I went equipped with list of questions. All design work which they would sub out to a freelance designer, then became my responsibility, which was a substantial saving for the company and a huge opportunity for me.
I stayed with that company for almost five years, and over the time the team I worked with evolved from an admin department to a full-on creative team with three designers and its own little photo studio. I was designing the company’s literature, exhibition panels, working on illustrations, taking photos in house, and even working with video too. I loved it. After a few years I was essentially redesigning my own work, so I decided to move on for a more diverse design job, and I got the job I have now. I’ve continued to learn a lot since.
My involvement with logo design started in my current design role as I needed to design logos as part of the web design, however I found it challenging at first, but very rewarding once complete. So that I could keep improving and learning, I started to take on logo design projects in my free time for friends and family, sometimes for free.
I’ve always liked to take on personal side projects, and logo design has been my most recent focus. The reason is simply because the projects are small. A logo design can be completed comfortably in my free time within 2 weeks.
I created my own website, started telling people I was offering the service, and started to take on projects as and when the opportunity came about…. it was slow at first, mostly for friends and family, but gradually I started to get real, more substantial projects thanks to the success of my website through Google.
3. In your point of view, how important is art education for anyone who would like to become a graphic designer?
I’m a self-taught designer, and most designers I know who studied at university also needed to still be self-educated to some extent. I think that’s the nature of the industry as it’s always changing.
Regardless of this, I do think some form of formal education is very important, whatever form it comes in. I think university gives people the opportunity to gain a firm understanding of design theory and the relevant tools, as well as providing a network of people with the same career ambitions.
I’ve needed to learn the hard way, through tutorials, books and by asking questions. My early work was terrible, so needed to learn from my mistakes. However, when I did start to learn the theory from books and peers, I was able to apply it to real projects on the go. I’m still learning now, but I think designers never actually stop learning anyway.
4. As someone who is specialising in logo design, what do you think about the industry as a whole? How do you feel about the level of skills and experience among the logo designers?
There’s a real mix of designers out there with their own thoughts and opinions on how things should be, almost to the point that it must feel chaotic and confusing to people looking for a designer. Prices can range anything from $5 up, can be crowd-sourced, be with an individual or a specialist design agency.
Sadly, I feel there’s a lot of trash and noise out there due to the popularity of crowd-sourced sites, and the availability of logo creation tools. To some extent this is driven by many small business owners, reluctant to invest in their identity, and people desperate enough to take the money, or gamble their time in hope for the money. Part of this is also due to the internet – anyone in the world can call themselves a designer, and can own and use the tools available. Thankfully, there are some serious players out there, doing some superb work, that’s incredibly inspiring, but in these instances it’s almost always driven by good clients who respect design, are prepared to invest, and understand the power and value of good design.
5. Who are your main sources of inspiration when creating a brand identity?
I’m a big fan of Paul Rand. His work is super simple, is distinctly recognisable at the size of a postage stamp and a building. His advice alone has been the most influential to me.
On a project-to-project basis, on the other hand, I tend to be inspired by whatever is relevant to that specific project. I like to think that a logo design should reflect characteristics of the company you’re designing it for, so I go more by a gut feeling and don’t stick to a specific style.
I tend to use Google image search a lot to look at images of related topics. For example, on a recent project I wanted to give the design a very distinct art nouveau feel. A simple Google search will pull up images of patterns, illustrations and shapes, which will inspire that one project alone. As I work on a project over a few days, during my day-to-day life, anything can become an inspiration. One time I was driving, and the shape of a fence inspired a logo design I was working on.
For logo design styles and lock-up ideas I like to browse searchable galleries like Logo Lounge and Logo Pond.
6. We understand that Logo Geek is a part-time venture… Why is that? How do you manage your time between your full-time job and Logo Geek?
My original intention was never to make Logo Geek a full time venture, it was always just intended as a hobby to improve as a designer, but it has grown beyond what I ever expected. It’s only really been during the last year due to the success of my website through Google and my Twitter following that I’ve had a steady stream of enquiries coming my way, but I’ve only been able to accept around 1-2 projects a month.
I have considered taking the leap and going full time on my own, but I’m used to the financial security that comes with working for an agency, and I like working with others on larger projects too – the type of projects that (I don’t think) I could ever get to work on as a freelance designer. I might one day, but I have no immediate plans.
Managing time between full time and freelance can be at times physically and mentally exhausting. But… I do enjoy doing it, and only ever take on a realistic volume of work. I make sure to have set days off in the week to spend with my partner and also to take a break after each project so I don’t burn out. As much as I love to work, I still like to have fun and live a little!
7. What are the key elements a successful logo should definitely have?
I think the most essential attribute of a logo is that it should be legible. If people can’t read the companies name at a range of sizes and applications then it’s failed. Only after this, if the design can be unique, then it will become identifiable.
8. What do you regard as your biggest success so far?
I got invited by Bill Gardner at Logo Lounge to join the jury for book 9. I still can’t believe that this happened! I can only thank my on-going social media work, which I work on even when I don’t feel up for it.
9. What would be your dream project?
I’ve always wanted to do a long-term logo design project… one where you can explore ideas for months on end and fill the walls with all options. I think for a tech start-up with a real brand at its heart. The client would have to be really great too and respect all the ideas.
10. What project(s) are you working on at the moment?
Since Christmas, I’ve actually been having a break to focus on a book about Logo Design. Its going to take a few years, but I have a very concrete plan in place and things are slowly coming together.
11. Who is your favourite logo designer? What about someone who influenced your work a lot?
I don’t have a favourite logo designer as such, but as mentioned already I really love Paul Rand’s work. I have a book of his that’s now out of print called Design Form and Chaos, which I feel contains the most important, and potentially the only important information about logo design out there. His work is about creating an identifiable mark. It’s pure simplicity, with no clever gimmicks. But that level of work is not only challenging to do, but also takes confidence.
David Airey has also had a big influence on me. His books and websites are superb. It’s not so much his logo design work that inspires me as such, but his knowledge, and way of communicating with the community. That’s what I aim to do in my own way. I like the idea of sharing my knowledge and inspiring and educating the next generation of identity designers.
12. What is the most important piece of advice you have received as a designer?
“It doesn’t matter how you do it, it’s the finished piece that matters.”
In summary, if you need to go for a walk, climb a tree, take a photo and trace it, that’s fine. Don’t waste time struggling to draw something if there is an easy way to do it. It’s the finished article that matters, not how you did it.
13. What would be the one piece of advice you would like to give to someone considering logo design as his or her career?
Start designing now and build up a portfolio of work… you’ll learn by doing. The more you do it, the better you’ll get. Then show off your work with confidence. Even if you think your work sucks, never say that you think it does. Just show it off, and present it like it’s the best piece of design work you ever did. The more you do that, the more work you’ll get, and the better you’ll be.