Sorry, the possible puns with this client are endless I feel. History started in December and I’ve dragged it into this January because the holidays and the winter always rain down mayhem on my work. Regardless I’m becoming more and more pleased that I’ve done so. Some projects only develop when given enough legroom. I’m a quality over quantity guy—I also believe good design, like a good spirit, only gets better with time.
The previous concept sketch has been traced and drawn over and over, and after battling the urge to go directly to Illustrator to finalize the logo, I’ve decided that I’d rather have the artwork produced by hand and then translated into a digital format. The mechanical tone of vector shapes kept turning me off to the design, it wasn’t raw or natural enough. I didn’t return all the way back to the drawing board, but ink and paper was clearly an intrinsic aspect to the client, being a tattoo parlor, and comes with it an irregularity that I not only enjoy, but find particularly relevant.
I was inspired by this short film about the late Doyald Young the other day, an esteemed typographic designer, and am only humbled by his true mastery of hand drawn lettering. I’m not sure I have the absolute patience and intense adherence to formal details to reward my logo with such a beautiful process as his, however, Monthly Brand is about learning. I’ve been tracing letters since college, but nothing like Young traces. I can only see my skills improving by continuing to strive for his level of vision and craft.
On to a little about the design of the logo for History, I’ve posted here some of the iterations and how it’s developed. I’ve chosen this direction and this style of typography for several reasons. The irregular letterforms do not adhere to formal conventions, but I like that, I find that it individualizes the symbol; it’s a custom interlocking of letters, and can be considered rather personal, a trait that was fundamental for the client. There is a clockwork to the arrangement as well—all forms uniquely operating and attached together, to the point of perhaps seeing the “machine” as a whole before fully recognizing all of its independent parts. This bridges nicely the goals of heralding the visceral and organic nature of branding oneself with artwork that can only represent them and their history while communicating the more literal notion that events (in history) have a mechanical behavior, and that they must have been arranged this way in order for the present to be real. It’s rigidity to a grid further locks the pieces into a system that grounds and celebrates this, the letters themselves are almost events in an apparatus of experience.
While I’ve already discussed choosing the direction as a form of monogram, I realized that no font can reproduce such a thing. They may be inspirations, the typographical designs of others, but as Doyald Young reminded me in the film, one crafts the design of letters over simply choosing one of over 100,000 fonts in the world because it is customized, it is wholly unique, like a tailored suit or a window of stained glass. In this logo design, the distinct nature of my hand, my craftsmanship, with all its imperfections, is impressed into the graphic. But it does not come without a sense of figure that represents the client—its mildly unidentifiable order, its optimistic and stretching spine of the central I, its cascading left stems of the H, T and R, its arrogance of a perfectly circular O, and its whimsical summary of a coiled terminal in the y. These are all purposeful choices that I believe give it character that both retain a meaning in the word History while representing an attractive graphic for a tattoo-bound audience, all wrapped up in the solidarity of a monogram that can only bring with it one identity.
The next step is to translate it to a digital format and apply it to the needs of the company. They’ll need a sign for their parlor, perhaps a flyer or business card, but if the owner enjoys it as much as me, perhaps there’s a reserved space on her own skin that deserves this next step in a blooming tattoo business.