Ian Paget of Logo Geek
Design Zeen (DZ): Ian, thanks for taking the time to be interviewed in Design Zeen Magazine. By way of introducing you to our readers: You are a designer based in the UK. In your free time you run a social media group called Logo Geek, and a design service of the same name at www.logogeek.co.uk. Full time, you are a Design Director for an eCommerce design company.
Speaking about your freelance work as Logo Geek, you have been lucky enough to work with some amazing businesses and individuals from all over the world, would you please elaborate for us who was a memorable client, in terms of enjoyment of the collaboration with your client, the process, and why you enjoyed working on that particular project?
Ian Paget (IP): It’s hard to single down on a specific example, as I’ve been fortunate to have worked with some really great people, however one that comes to mind is a design I did for for Mike Munro, a freelance web designer who set up his own business called Minternet.
Mike selected me for the way I work, and my approach to design. He could see similarities in me to himself, so we had a good working relationship from the outset.
I have a clearly defined logo design process, which starts with the creation of a list objectives that the design should fulfill. This typically includes information about the business, its target market and competition. In this case, a few attributes which stood out, that I wanted to communicate within the design was Mikes commitment to verbal communication, to the design community and that he is a part qualified architect.
In the end I was able to create a really clever monogram that I’m really proud of. The final design uses the concept of right angled triangles (referencing architectural illustration) coming together to symbolise client communication, but in doing so creates a central diamond that’s only possible through teamwork. Unexpectedly, as a happy accident, within the negative space you can see downward moving arrows, which can relate the to flow of internet data.
The client really loved the final design, and went ahead with no changes. It was a very pleasant experience from start to finish, and I was fortunate to also receive a stellar testimonial too.
If you’re interested, you can check out a more in-depth look at the process behind this logo here.
DZ: How did you get in contact with this client, do you actively seek clients? What role does our website and Twitter account play in attracting the clientele that you want to work with?
IP: This particular client came through twitter, who looked and my website and made an enquiry. It’s worth noting however that most of my serious enquiries come through my website from Google searches, so this was a rare exception.
I started my Logo Geek website, design service and twitter account for fun as a side project. When I first started out I was taking on free projects for friends and family, and from that day on I’ve been continually working on it, slowly gaining more interest. At the moment as I work full time, I’m able to pick and choose from the enquiries that come my way, so I don’t need to actively seek clients. If however I was to go freelance full time I would need to be.
My website is essential to finding new business, and I would be nowhere without it. Having worked within a digital marketing agency I’ve picked up a few tips along the way which have helped me to get my website on page 1 of Google for a few search terms. My main focus is local search, so I come up position one for anything logo design related in my area, however in the UK I’m on page 2 for the generic term Logo Design. It’s my opportunity to show off my work, tell a little more about me, and hopefully attract someone to get in touch.
I don’t use Twitter as a way of attracting clients – that’s not my goal. Instead I’m targeting other designers, sharing logo design related resources. I enjoy doing this, and it gives me a good incentive to keep learning. My long-term goal is to be seen as an authority in the industry, and so far it’s working for me… it’s changed my life. I’ve been able to get involved with judging opportunities, and have made some excellent contacts. One such example is being on the jury for Logo Lounge book 9, which was a real honour and a big moment of my life.
Although I don’t aim to attract customers through twitter, I do think people research and do see this. If they see you’re active in your industry, it gives some credibility and trust in you as a designer… that’s my thinking anyway!
DZ: Being full-time employed, how do you balance your time with freelance projects and working at your day job, in addition, your promotion of Logo Geek through Twitter?
IP: It’s really hard, and I have taken on more than I should have at one time. I almost burned out… Working non-stop is really not healthy, and it effects people around you too.
After learning from my mistake, I make sure to take on only one project at a time, and make sure to have a break between each project.
I’ve made twitter part of my routine so it’s very easy to maintain, and I find it relaxing and enjoyable too. I use tools such as Buffer, so I’m able to post at convenient times when I have 10 minutes spare, and it schedules it for me at regular intervals.
DZ: Where did you study design, and what made you decide to choose graphic design as a career?
IP: This isn’t an easy one to answer as I don’t feel I chose to be a graphic designer as such. I feel I was in the right place, at the right time, but have worked very hard since to do something I love.
I don’t have a formal design education. Being the youngest of a large family, with siblings that didn’t attend university, I followed suit and went straight into employment from college. I never expected to go to university, and despite the recommendations, I had always planned to get into work following my early education.
Growing up I always had a passion for art, and did well in my school art and design related classes. I was that kid that would send my drawings in for competitions, and won the occasional prize. Due to this it was often suggested to me that I should work in design when the time comes. I know I wanted to do something creative, but I wasn’t sure what. I had imagined working on designs for movies…
I recall getting careers advice, and being told that university was the only way I could become a designer. They did however suggest I could potentially get an office job that could involve some design. Happily I proved them wrong…
The first job that fitted my interests was as a trainee print finisher for a small exhibition company. It involved manufacturing exhibition stand graphics, taking printed artwork, and turning it in to the stands you see at large exhibitions. Lots of machines with rollers, different materials and really sharp knifes… I was in that job for only a few months, and I wasn’t really enjoy it. I felt like I sucked. I knew I wanted to design the panels, not manufacture them.
This small job however exposed me to a small team who was prepping the artwork, which was always fascinating to watch. In this job I ended up cutting my finger quite badly, and had an accident on my little moped too (which I needed to get there), so decided to hand in my notice and find the first job I could…
I was only 18, and needed a job so I asked a friend who worked not far from where I lived, and I got a job with him working in a warehouse at a medical company. I expected this to be temporary, and did think the job was low for me, but I surprised myself and enjoyed it gaining a respect for those who do this for a living. During my interview, I was fortunate to have been interviewed by one of the more senior managers, and I was honest and said that I want to be a designer, but wanted a job that would help develop my confidence. 3 month in to that job, they offered me a 3 week trial within their office, working with the Product Support and Education team.
This job was primarily admin… but a small part of it was making posters for the sales team. I had never used a mac before, but I sat a played with it to see what I could do. Even though what I did was poor to my standards today, it was better than what the team was currently producing, so I was given most of the design related jobs.
The company offered me a few afternoon training sessions with the local printers, and I learned and practiced in my own time using online tutorials. Eventually my role became a fully design led position, taking photos, illustrating, making videos, animations… it was so good, and I was really glad to have been in the right place at the right time. I eventually left that job into a more varied, and focused design role where I was able to really flourish and develop my skills further.
DZ: Ian, your career path proves that working hard and making the right decisions can propel a career in the direction of achieving your goals.
IP: I think knowing what you want to do with your life makes a big difference, even if the ideas are pretty out there. Having goals mean you can focus and keep working at it no matter what the set backs are. I think I have been lucky, but I know I’ve worked pretty hard at it too.
DZ: What’s the best advice that you received from those who taught you?
IP: When I first started out I liked using what I learned. I like showing it off, and challenging myself with complex design. I was making what I thought was really cool. The companies CEO however came to me, looked at my work and said “just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should” – He was right, and this has always stuck with me. Sometimes the most basic design is the perfect solution.
Another time I was told something like “it doesn’t matter how you go about doing something, as long as you are able to put together the finished piece”. At the time I was struggling to illustrate a hand for a directions for use document. What he suggested was to take a photo and trace. Although it felt like cheating, I soon realised his point. Why struggle on a design for hours, when you can find a quicker solution, creating the same end product? It’s the same with stock images and illustrations, which can save hours and gets the job done. Commercially the quickest option is (normally) always the best…
A more recent, advanced suggestion was from designer Miles Newlyn, who’s well know for his logo design and typography work. He shown me whats known as optical corrections. If you really study type, you will notice than rounded letters are slightly taller than those that are more square shaped. This is because the rounded letters have less visual dominance, so they are optically corrected to appear the same size. When it comes to type and logos, design is an optical illusion. Letters/shapes are corrected to minute detail to look perfectly aligned, however in reality this is not true.
DZ: In your experience as a professional, both as a freelancer and employee, what advice for student designers would you want them to know about for the field of visual design and business practice, before they head into working world?
IP: Understand commercial value. At the end of the day you have a cost attached to you. This means at times you need to work quicker than you’d like. In colleges and schools they give you the illusion that projects can take 6 months, and you have time to dream, play, experiment and perfect. Sadly in most cases that design project will need to be done in only a few days. It does however depend on the company you work for, and the type of projects, however I do feel there is a big jump in expectation from design schools to a professional career in design.
Working with clients is also really, really hard… At times they can be brutal, annoying, and rude… When designing something it’s important to know the reasons for your design choices, beside it simply looking good. If you can present your designs, with decisions backed up by solid research and strategic business understanding you’ll do well. If you don’t you’ll get dragged around like a puppet, making endless revisions (and that sucks). You’ll need to learn to listen, to work with clients, as well as project managers too.
And lastly… respect process. Process is the foundation of success. The right process will allow projects to run smoothly, keep you in control, and protect you from the worst case scenario. If something goes belly up.. blame the process, not the client, as it can be modified to prevent that situation happening again.
DZ: I’m looking at your logo for Logo Geek. It’s very clear. What made you decide to choose that font? Is there a story behind your logo?
IP: When I first started my website, I did it for fun, and simply created something which I thought looked cool… I was doing it for me, and wanted it to be quirky and fun. Then I learned a lot more, started to get visitors, and started to get enquiries.
I got to a point where I felt the company name, combined with the identity, looked and sounded cheap, and was attracting the wrong enquiries. I was a bit embarrassed by it, and thought it didn’t fit who I am, so I decided to redo everything…
I wanted to up my prices, and to start getting serious. My aim was to create something which was simple, professional and authoritative. I wanted a logo that portrayed my design service as one that was for businesses, offering a service that was priced mid-range. There’s no clever story to it, other than being a carefully drawn custom font, that I’m able to use on all my sites, that projects the same feel. I have focussed more on the perception it communicates to its viewers than anything else.
I’ve thought a lot about personal identity, and honestly don’t think logo design for sole traders is of great importance, which is why I keep it simple (having your own visual identity however is hugely powerful if done right). Your face is so much more unique and recognisable when you work for yourself, and is the one thing companies can’t really take advantage of. I feel my social media icon is what people recognise, which is the reason why I feature it to the left of the typeface.
Time permitting, I do have plans to take my identity further, but I feel the foundations are there…
DZ: As your goal is to be known as an authority in the graphic design industry, do you see Logo Geek becoming a full time source of financial income?
IP: Potentially, but not yet.
I find I’m so much more motivated and driven when working with others. I find when working on my own I can easily become distracted, or feel a little lonely when something exciting happens. For that reason, here today I’m keen to remain working with a company. My dream is to work for an agency that creates visual identities. That’s something I enjoy, as it’s incredibly satisfying and exiting when everything comes together.
I do have plans to write a book as part of Logo Geek called Learn Logo Design. I do hope it will be a success, but it’s not done for financial reasons. I genuinely want to help designers out there who want to be able to do this stuff too. It would be cool to make supporting merchandise too, but just for fun, such as a ‘logo geek start-up kit’. I doubt anything like that would ever be financially rewarding, but would certainly be fun and I think designers would love it. I’ll finish the book first and see where I can go with it…
DZ: Thanks for explaining the business process of your logo for Logo Geek. When you say the font used is a carefully drawn custom font, do you mean that the shapes started with pencil on paper, or is it a modified existing font? As a comment of opinion, my mind wants to read ‘Logo Greek’, especially since your used the light blue colour, and the right angle of the tail of the capital “G”.
IP: I did a few rough sketches at first, to get a feel for what I wanted to do. Then using illustrator, I used the shape tools to design the font from scratch. As there are only a few characters, and I had something very specific in mind, I found it faster to draw something from scratch than use an existing typeface. It also means it’s unique to me too.
Thanks for passing your thoughts about the G – I do see what you mean. I normally keep changing my personal designs, so for now I’m going to remain strong and leave it as is. If you ever see a modified version however you’ll know where the idea came from 😉
IP: I’ve actually managed to do the whole thing myself, and I did it with WordPress. I purchased a decent responsive template which gives me some flexibility to make design changes.
I’ve not been able to make the site exactly how I would like it to be from a design perspective which bugs me, but in terms of creating a site that’s helped me attract customers, and allow me to blog, it’s served it’s purpose. I would love to do a complete overhaul at some point.
Lynda learning is pretty damn amazing, but I haven’t used it for my website. I had a subscription for a while, but struggled to set aside time to watch the tutorials properly so cancelled it. It’s great to watch something, but you do need the time to play around with what you’re learning, especially where software is concerned. I do need to free myself up however for this, as I do believe it’s very important.
DZ: Thanks again for your time and detailed attention to explaining your career, I’m sure it will inspire both students and professionals who read your interview.
IP: Thanks again for the opportunity.