Today a Designer Interview With Ian Paget (Logo Geek) a graphic and logo designer residing in Manchester. Ian also has a good blog that provides great information and insights for designers.
— The Logo Creative© ✏ (@thelogocreative) June 7, 2017
The Logo Creative – Hi Ian and thanks for taking part in a designer interview.
Logo Geek – Hay thanks so much for thinking of me, i wish you all the best with the project.
The Logo Creative – What was the turning point in your life when you decided to become a designer and how did you proceed?
Logo Geek – I don’t really feel like there was a major turning point as such, but instead a natural progression that led me to where I am now.
As a kid growing up I was good at art – it was the thing I enjoyed most, was frequently winning the school pantomime ticket design competitions, and had my drawings on TV a few times. Being a real passion and continuing to be told had a talent for art/design growing up, as I progressed into college I focused on Art and Design related topics.
After my studies, my first job was as a print finisher for an exhibition design company where I was first exposed to graphic designers, who I watched with fascination. After cutting my finger badly, I realised the job wasn’t for me, so I left the role and ended up getting the first job I could at a medical company where a friend worked. I did however dream of being a designer, and I was open about that.
I worked in a warehouse for a short period, but was moved into an admin based job that was more suitable for me, working in a team who supported the national sales team. Most of the time I needed to book hotels, however, the sales team very occasionally needed us to design posters and diagrams to help present solutions to potential clients. Being good at art (and being nervous on the phone) I found this part of the job enjoyable, and was given almost all the design related tasks.
After some success, eventually I was provided with training, and started to design literature which was previously subbed out to a freelancer. I unintentionally saved the company a lot of money, and the team gradually become a full fledge internal graphic design team because of my involvement.
After a few years in this role I developed a lot of design skills, and later moved on to a lead design position in an eCommerce design agency where I am now Design Director. I’ve continued to learn and improve every day.
The Logo Creative – What does your day consist of?
Logo Geek – I work part time as Design Director, where I work 3 days a week – the rest of the time I work for myself primarily designing logos. My days vary, but there is some structure…
In both cases I work in a similar way. In the morning I start by going through my to-do list, highlighting the most urgent things for that day. This allows me to focus my energy on the things that need to be done without getting distracted.
I then do any admin that’s needed, such as replying to emails or preparing quotes and invoices. I focus the rest of my morning on any small design tasks – such as requested amendments.
I plan my projects carefully using Google Calendar, so with all the essential bits and pieces done in the mornings, I aim to block out the second half of my day to focus on a single large design project without any distractions.
The Logo Creative – What was the first ever logo you designed?
Logo Geek – Back in the days when MySpace was big I started offering my design skills to bands for free so I could practice what I was learning in the admin job I mentioned earlier. I recall designing a few band logos which were based on terrible sketches provided by the client… sadly I don’t have any of this work to show, but I bet it would be cringe-worthy.
One I do however have is one of the first logos I designed from scratch, which was for a web based computer game called Future History that friends were developing in flash. It was something I did for free, and was designed using Photoshop (cringe),
but the relationship I made with the guys allowed me to later work on a game they were doing in collaboration with Games Workshop called Man O’War Corsair.
The Logo Creative – What is your favorite logo of all time?
Logo Geek – I don’t feel like I have a favorite. It’s hard to look at a logo design without seeing the company behind it too, so I feel that influences my decision somewhat.
I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for the FedEx logo, simply because of the clever strategy that went behind the changing of the name from Federal Express, and the simplicity of the solution with the hidden arrow. It’s a very practical, and effective solution.
The IBM logo is great too… just because it’s so damn identifiable. Paul Rand knew his stuff…
The Logo Creative – Can you give us an overview of your logo design process?
Logo Geek – I start by sending clients a data gathering questionnaire. From this I then create a list of goals, which forms the logo design brief. You can read into how I create this in my blog: A designers guide to creating a logo design brief http://logogeek.uk/logo-design/logo-design-brief/
Using the goals as a reference, I then work on ideas in a sketchbook. I like to use word mapping to help generate ideas. Sketchbook work for me is one of the most essential steps, as this is where the raw ideas are developed.
I circle the best ideas, and develop them further in Adobe Illustrator. I work in Black and White at first, so I can focus on developing the form. I like to copy and paste ideas as I work on them, meaning I can experiment without fear of destroying something great.
Once I have 3-5 decent logo designs that I feel meet the goals, I use a plugin called Live Surface to test my designs in real world applications.
I then prepare a document, showcasing the design with images of the logo in use, along with supporting notes, which I present to the client.
You can learn more about my logo design process here: http://logogeek.uk/logo-design/process/
The Logo Creative – In your opinion regarding Logo Design pricing, do you prefer working on a fixed rate or customer budget and can you explain why?
Logo Geek – At the moment I have fixed prices for my logo design services, which I have calculated based on the average time I spend on a project, and is a figure that falls in line with competitors. I sometimes increase or decrease this figure as needed during the sales process – If I think I can make more money I will try to.
Some projects do take less or more time than expected, so sometimes I lose out, but over the space of a month the fixed cost works out to a nice monthly salary that I’m happy with.
By working this way it keeps it simple and convenient for me. I can have pre-prepared emails, quotes etc, and can work towards a fairly fixed routine. Since my freelance venture is only part-time, this fixed routine allows me to easily and efficiently get projects in and out.
Longer term if/when I go full-time freelance I will look at a value based pricing model, but a fixed price
The Logo Creative – How long does it take to complete the average logo design project from start to finish
Logo Geek – On average, I tend to work on a logo project over a 16 hour period, split across 2 weeks.
The Logo Creative – Are you a MAC or PC user and is there a reason for your choice
Logo Geek – I’ve used both, but I’m a big apple fan boy, and a massive Steve Jobs fan…
Macs in my opinion are better… more reliable and more attractive. They are, in my opinion, the best computers.
Windows in comparison sucks… When using a PC I used to get a lot of viruses, and the hardware would get slow. The latest Windows also feels really badly designed… it should be a business operating system, but it has a touch screen OS slapped onto it. I just feel it’s a mess.
I’ve also found that Apple products don’t lose value.. it’s possible to sell a 5 year old iMac on eBay for a few hundred pounds, whilst a Windows PC has no value in the same timeframe.
As my kit gets older I typically sell my Mac on eBay (I keep the boxes etc, so it looks like new), and then upgrade to a year old model for only a few hundred pound more with careful watching/bidding on eBay. I feel because of this Mac is a more cost effective solution long-term too.
The Logo Creative – Which software do you use frequently
Logo Geek – For logo design I used Adobe Illustrator. I then prepare my presentations in InDesign.
I also use a really cool tool called PipeDrive (https://www.pipedrive.com/register?promocode=af-logogeek) for sales and workflow management, then Google Calendar to manage my project deadlines.
I also use FreeAgent for my accounts, which allows me create invoices, and keep on top of my tax returns.
What is your favourite style of logo design? and why?
Logo Geek – I like simplicity, such as the work of Paul Rand and the team at Pentagram. The main reason is because I think it’s the perfect solution for logo design; Simple, Memorable, Versatile, Appropriate and Timeless.
The Logo Creative – What is your daily inspiration when you design?
Logo Geek – I like to look through reference books of mine. I have a few really great logo gallery books, some from the 70-80s that are really inspiring.
I also like to keep an eye on new logo designs from the big agencies, using blogs such as Brand New, who do really great reviews that can be educational too: http://www.underconsideration.com/brandnew/. My personal favorite agency is Pentagram, so I use the work they produce as a mental benchmark for my own.
I’m also fortunate to be on a few logo design juries, so I see the entries that are submitted. I’ve learned a lot from reading these as they offer the full stories behind some of the big branding projects, and contain information not published elsewhere…
The Logo Creative – In your opinion what’s the best and worst part of your job been as a designer?
Logo Geek – I love it when I do great design work, and the client loves it. It looks good in my portfolio, and the world loves it too – yay. Seeing the work being used, and the client succeeding is very rewarding.
The most challenging and worst times have been when I feel I’ve done great work, but the clients not personally liked what I’ve done for them. In this situation the client can begin to dictate changes, and push their personal preferences onto the project. Sometimes they have been rude and unfairly demanding, and can become very unreasonable. I’ve tried to continually evolve my process to avoid these situations, and can often overcome problems, but it can be quite upsetting and stressful to deal with a client who knows best, no matter how solid the process is…
The Logo Creative – Who is the most inspiring person to you and why?
Logo Geek – From a design perspective Aaron Draplin is one person that comes to mind. I feel like he lives for design, and everything he does seems to spark something inside of me. His office is a treasure trove I’d love to look around, his work is bold and often very practical. His talks and tutorials are always fascinating too.
None logo design related, I’d have to say Pat Flynn, who runs Smart Passive Income. I love the ‘real’ honest brand he’s built up and the way he continues to helps people whilst making an income.
The Logo Creative – Who is your favorite Graphic Designer and why?
Logo Geek – It’s hard to pick just one, but I’m continually fascinated by the work of Michael Bierut. His work is always very simple, but clever and well thought out. There have been times when I’ve not been sure about a design he’s worked on (e.g.: Hillary Clintons logo), but… I’ve always learned a lot when looking into it further and understanding the thought process behind it. I have a lot of respect for his advice, and personally feel he’s one of the greatest logo designers in the world.
The Logo Creative – What is your favorite design quote?
Logo Geek – “If a company is second rate, the logo will eventually be perceived as second rate. It is foolhardy to believe that a logo will do its job immediately, before an audience has been properly conditioned.” – Paul Rand
The Logo Creative – In less than 10 words what is graphic design?
Logo Geek – Making communication easier to understand using text and visuals.
The Logo Creative – What steps did you take to start your graphic design business? Did you have to make any sacrifices on your journey?
Logo Geek – I started out simply by choosing a name, and building a portfolio website using WordPress.
With each project I developed a process, and continue to refine and develop it. It’s the processes that I feel really makes a business a business. Process continues to be my focus… with every mistake I improve it.
To grow an audience I’ve needed to put in a lot of time. For example, every morning first thing for 2 years I would manage my social media pages, even on days when I really didn’t want to… I’m more relaxed about it now, but that ongoing routine gave me the push I needed.
I’ve also worked hard during holidays and evenings when people around me are relaxing and having fun. I do enjoy working, but sometimes it’s not easy and can be stressful… but it’s been worth it.
Most recently I’ve relocated to a new town, where living costs are much cheaper. This means I can be more competitive with my rates, and have less worry about earning enough each month. It is however not quite as convenient for life, but it’s a sacrifice that I feel is needed for my long-term plans and dreams.
The Logo Creative – Do you have any regrets? Is there anything you would have changed early on in your career?
Logo Geek – From a career perspective not really… other than perhaps working too much, rather than spend time with friends and family. I’ve worked really hard over the last 10 years, but I wonder if I’d be where I am now if I didn’t make that commitment.
The Logo Creative – If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
Logo Geek – It sounds somewhat morbid, but I’d tell myself that one day I will grow old, and will die… my time is limited, so I should live my life with no regrets. Go live my dreams, make them happen… face my fears and don’t look back…
I learned this after spending time with my mum in a dementia care home, and seeing older people at the end of their lives. Since learning this I’ve pushed myself to do things I never previously had the courage to do… such as going freelance, travelling alone, relocating to a whole new town, and doing audio podcasts. Sometimes things are scary, but these things have helped me to be more confident and to live a more exciting life…
The Logo Creative – What’s the most important piece of advice you have received as a designer that’s helped you?
Logo Geek – When I was first starting my career the company CEO came behind me, looked at my work and said to me “Just because you can do it, does it mean you should?”, then walked off. I was trying to do complex artwork, just to show off what I had learned, but… a better and more successful solution in hindsight was substantially faster and easier to do. I learned to do what was right on a project, and to challenge my design abilities in my own time on self-initiated projects…
The Logo Creative – What would be your advice for new Logo and Graphic Designers?
Logo Geek – Create a portfolio as soon as possible and show off your work. Showing your work, even if it’s not amazing, will still attract opportunities for you.
Never say anything bad about your work when you present it… talk about how great it is and how you solved problems. When you start to brush off your work as rubbish, the person you present it to will have no choice to agree, and wonder why you included it in your portfolio… if you really hate it, remove it from your portfolio.
And lastly… read books. You can learn skills from some of the best designers that have ever lived… You can learn valuable business lessons from some of the worlds greatest leaders. To be the best, learn from the best. Read and keep learning.
Also published on Medium.