Logo Design: The Honest Liars

I have amazing people in my life. Just knowing them makes me feel cooler. Some of those amazing people are The Honest Liars, who asked me to make a logo. These brilliant, brave and witty actors are daring to come to Portland from across the country and ask us "What is home?" The question is far more loaded than just answering with your address. Trust me. They proved to be the best kind of design client: those who know how to ask for what they want and then provide honest, useful feedback throughout the process. (I've met many who didn't know what they wanted beyond, "something.") It started with the simple idea of a vintage suitcase. So I opened up Illustrator and I made some suitcases. Like you do.

My training taught me to always do three initial designs and I can't seem to shake that instinct. Two of these may appear very similar, but a close look will show that the handle gets a highlight in the top design. I've noticed that there's always one design that I prefer, and when I'm really lucky, my client picks that one. Or perhaps unlucky, given that challenge is required for growth. Aw, crap, I'm getting philosophical. Get the squirtgun.

In this case, there wasn't any choosing to do. My favorite liars had been brainstorming and they wanted a retro passport-stamp style for the final logo. Perfect! The simplest of the suitcases could easily work into that aesthetic. Stickers would just clutter up the final design, and got cut immediately.

Three retro stamp designs featuring text and suitcases.

My pictographic suitcases came together perfectly with the complexity of newly added text. I found a satisfying challenge in raising the detail of each "stamp" as I went along. Retro designs either rely on a modernist simplicity (well within my comfort zone), or call back to a traditional style that revels in itty-bitty embellishments. This project gave me the chance to delve into that aspect of design for the first time in ages.

You might be wondering why there's no evidence of the classic texture associated with stamps. Before you distort or erode a design, you have to have a design worth distorting. Even color is secondary to the underlying design. Many logos have to be printed in black and white as well as color, so best practices dictate that a design shouldn't get the finer points of color or texture until it's nearly finished. In fact, designers are well aware that color can be used to compensate for a bad design, so the best designers prove themselves by working their logos exclusively in black and white.

The Liars responded to the second phase with more perfect feedback: they told me what they liked most between two of the designs and asked if I could fuse those parts to create the final logo. Collaboration must be a well-honed skill in the theater community. Or perhaps these guys are just really good. My money's on that one.

I was also given a precise color to use: bottle green. Usually, if color preferences are stated, it's in the form of ambiguous references to something in that one picture, you know the one, with the bumblebee...

When their email read "bottle green," I was thrilled! Not only is that a great color, it's exact. It has a hex code. Ambiguity leads to a sort of cyclic hell, redesign after redesign, and a lot of wasted time. Give me a named color with a hex code any day.

The finished design got color, a pass of texture and sent to its new, happy home.

The Honest Liars
The Honest Liars

This is a logo that I can't wait to see in the wild.