Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Creating a Logo 2: The Contract

I have found that many clients do not understand the limitations of what they are buying or haven't thought about all the copyright issues involved. It would be nice if everything could be done with a handshake but, unfortunately, misunderstandings happen in the course of doing business so it is good to have one's agreement written down. Although I do sometimes proceed without a contract, most of the time it is best to have one.

Below is a copy of one of my licensing contracts. (Licensing means I sell to a manufacturer the right to use my design on their product for a limited or unlimited time on a particular named product. They do not get to own the design. They are buying the use of it.) This is only slightly different from a contract for commissioned work like a logo.

Besides identifying the parties involved and the art product to be delivered, the important elements to be included in a contract are:
  • Who can use the image, where, and for how long? For example: this logo can be used only by the company for which it was created, except for marketing and advertising. If the company is sold, the use of the logo may be transferred to the new owners. Logo cannot be sold to a third party, with the above exception.... Usually, for a logo, I grant unlimited use of the image for an unlimited time period.
  • The image cannot be altered in any way except for sizing. If there are exceptions to this, then they must be described. Usually I allow for size changes but not color, proportions, or partitioning. (This is an important issue. One time I created a beautiful logo for a company in which the company name was part of the design. Two years later they decided to change their name and, instead of asking me to alter the logo, they simply altered it themselves in a very non-professional way, which changed for the worse the whole look of my logo. I don't want my name to be connected with something sub-standard like that so reminding them of the contract was necessary. )
  • A payment schedule. What is standard for me is payment in thirds (1. one third, non-refundable - to begin the project and do research. 2. One third upon completion and approval of sketches, and 3. The final third upon completion of the work.) I am somewhat flexible with payments. I've accepted monthly payments from some clients. In every case, however, a unique (non-licensed) product is never delivered until all payments are made.
A good source for information on licensing, contracts, agreements, etc. is a publication of the Graphic Artist Guild called Pricing and Ethical Guidelines.

Once an agreement is reached, and the initial payment to begin work is made, then I start to research my subject. (Next post.)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Creating a Logo 1: The Query

Most people only have a vague idea of what they want for a logo and it is my job to help them clarify their vision ahead of time. Therefore, step one in creating a logo is the Query: both parties questioning each other about the project.

Here are some of the initial queries I have received. They are all very general. All of them, with the exception of the environmental group, had seen my artwork before and knew my style.
  • An environmental startup wants a logo in color but they don't even have a name yet.
  • A craftperson working in beaded leather wants a logo with her name on it.
  • A small enterprise just starting up wants to have a logo when they launch their business. They already have a name and a makeshift logo but they want something more professional looking.
  • An environmental group with both a print and an internet presence wants something for their website.
  • A small manufacturer of hemp clothing wants a logo with words and image depicting their company name and byline.
  • A coaching firm headed by a woman with a Dutch background wants something feminine and personal yet professional looking.
  • A small sheep farm making cheese and bath products wants a label for their products.
  • Another organic dairy farm and cheese maker wants a logo that can be a label for their products.
  • An upscale consignment shop featuring unusual and elegant women's clothing wants a logo for their sign and for all their hang tags on their clothing.
  • An ultimate frizbee sports team called Rampant Cow that wants a logo for their shirts and frizbees.

In order to help them to fill out their vision of what is wanted, I begin asking lots of questions about the project. Here is a list of the types of questions I would ask:
  • Describe as much as you can, what you are looking for in a logo.
  • Describe your company or group. Where are you located? What do you do?
  • What is the marketplace like that your product will be in? Who are your customers? Who will be looking at this?
  • What is the feeling you want to convey?
  • What level of sophistication is needed?
  • What kinds of products will this be on? Be specific about size, color, type, etc. Do you want to use this in other places, such as business card, letterhead, signs, banners, print media, product labels, tags, etc?
  • Do you want color or black and white?
  • Look at my other logos on my website. Which ones are similar to what you are looking for? What do you like about it?
  • What shape do you want it to be? Oblong, square, triangle, circle, oval, half circle...?
  • Tell me some things about the people who make up your group. Is there anything particular about them? I am thinking about motifs and how to include symbolism in the logo that might make it more meaningful to you.
  • What is the time frame I have to work in? When do you intend to launch; when is this needed? (I generally need two months to create a logo, provided my time is flexible.)
  • Is there anything specific that needs to be in the logo? Any particular image, word or motif?
  • What words need to be on the product label besides the logo and the product name?
  • Who is the person making the final desision on this logo? (If it is someone other than who is contacting me, I need to connect with them to make sure we are all on the same page.)

I may go back and forth a bit with the questioning. It is vitally important that I get the clearest picture possible of what the client needs.

Next time: contracts.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

For the Next Two Weeks: a journey

Well, the coloring project is nearly finished. The four portfolio sets are out there. I have to wait a bit on the coloring journal. (Printer messed up and we have to re-do the covers.) So that's on the back burner now. I will slowly get marketing material together and put them in my inventory and catalog.

I have a wee request for another tattoo design. That job will be rolling around in the corners along with a quick trip to visit my mum.

But the main thing I'll be working on for the next week or two is finishing a company logo for Thistledown Creamery in the land down under. Sooooooo. I thought it would be interesting for you to watch the process of how I create a logo. This journey will have the label: logos in case you fall behind or want to reference it later.

Got to go see my mother tomorrow but I will begin the tale of the logo soon. And after that... dum dum duuuuuum. I buy the big canvas.
Stay tuned.

Coloring Sets are Now for Sale

My Coloring Portfolios are now for sale in my Etsy shop HERE.

Also, individual listings on Bixbe, a new selling site I am trying out.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Something to Ponder:

It's never too late to be what you might have been.

George Eliot

The other day a gallery owner friend gave me a refrigerator magnet with this quotation on it. I came by to show him my coloring line, newly completed. I didn't expect him to be impressed, because I know he thinks these small commercial ventures are a waste of my time. After being pleasantly surprised at how much he liked the coloring portfolios, he went into the kitchen and got this magnet for me. "Here," he said. "You take this and look at it every day. I want you to go out and buy a canvas. It can be no less than 4ft x 6 ft. I want to see one of your spectacular floral drawings transferred into a large color painting. You need to move into a new domain now. When you can hang that painting on my wall, then give me back the magnet."

At first I was dubious and nervous. I've never done a painting that large. I consider myself an illustrator. Everything I do is small. What if I can't do it.... blah blah blah. So I drove myself an hour to Rutland to an art store and stood staring at their large canvases. All that white space made me nervous. And, of course, that night I couldn't sleep.

Two days later, I met W. again at the gallery. He wanted to show me something. In the lower room of his spectacular three storey Studio 47 Gallery, he had set up a projector and on a huge blank wall, projected some of my floral drawings and illustrations. I have to say, they looked wonderful. "See," he crooned. "They are stunning in this size."

So now my nervousness is coupled with excitement about moving ahead in this way. I have two commission projects I am currently working on, which should be finished in a couple of weeks and then...
I will be making a trip back to that store to buy a canvas. We'll see what comes of it.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Adult Coloring Portfolio, set 3

With the completion of set 3, my Adult Coloring Series is done! In the next few days I will be listing for sale online: Coloring Journal, Creativity Kit, Portfolios of coloring pages (sets 1-4) Stay tuned!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Seaweed Bloom

This is the final drawing, called "Seaweed Bloom" in the Adult Coloring Set 3: Aquatic Bouquets.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Horny Coral

This is the seventh of eight designs in the coloring portfolio called "Aquatic Bouquets." The last one will be done tomorrow (god willing) and then my entire introductory coloring line will be finished. Yay.

Firebird - a hemp/cannabis design

Today someone inquired about my doing more hemp/cannabis designs. Here is one which didn't get used by Benevolence Bound. It is meant to represent medical marijuana as a life-giving force. The firebird rises, phoenix-like and brings renewal. Also, the pole and ribbon at the bottom suggest a caduceus.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Adult Coloring Portfolio, set 4

My Portfolio of Adult Coloring Pages, Set 4, "Edibles" is finished. Two more designs for set 3 and my entire series will be done. Hopefully, by the end of the week they will all be on sale. Stay tuned.


This is the final design in my Adult Coloring Pages - Portfolio set 4 called "Edibles."

Monday, June 14, 2010


This is the seventh out of eight designs for the adult coloring portfolio called "Edibles."

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A little help from my friends...

Help! I need seven more people to "fan" my Facebook page so I can get a URL for it to include on my website and such. I am learning to go public with social networking in order to promote myself better in cyberspace. Can you please go to my page HERE and "fan" me? There is not obligation to sign up or ever go there again... or anything.

Thank you.


Later: Thanks so much. I now have the minimum and have acquired the URL:


This is the 6th out of 8 designs for the Portfolio set called "Edibles." Two more to go for this set.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Portfolio Set 2

Portfolio set 2 is now completed. Along with set 1 and others, it will be available for sale online in a few days.

Portfolio Set 1

Portfolio Set 1 is finished! Sets 2 and 5 are nearly done as well. I will have a new portfolio set available every few days for the next two weeks. By then, the coloring journal will have arrived from the printer. I will begin listing them for sale online in a couple of days. They will be available to stores thereafter.
It looks like Independence Day will be just that.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Royal Fern Border

This is the final design in the "frames" coloring portfolio, soon to be printed.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Striped Ribbon

This is the final line drawing to Portfolio Set 2 in my new Coloring Line. I will be completing the final drawings for Set 3 and 4 soon. When the portfolios arrive next week and, hopefully, the coloring journal, I will then put the creativity kit and all the portfolios together. Then I will be listing them for sale. Everything is coming together now. (Amazing how long everything takes, isn't it?)

"Striped Ribbon" will be part of Portfolio set 2: "Floral Bouquets." Each drawing in this set is of a bunch of flowers wound together with ribbon in a kind of messy bouquet.

Set 1, "A Tangle of Flowers" features my typical tangle of various flowers, berries, and weeds.

Set 3 will be "Aquatic Bouquets" with aquatic plant and animal life arranged as bouquets.

Set 4 will be "Frames," where each drawing has a place left empty for your own photo, poetry, quotation, announcement, etc.

Set 5 will be called "Edibles" and will feature floral drawings which include fruit and vegetables.

Set 6 will probably feature my Hemp/Cannabis designs.

All of these collections are nearly finished. Sets one and two will be ready to go in a week or so and then I will probably put out a new set each week thereafter until all six are done. Soon, I will be posting the entire contents of each collection on my website. Stay tuned.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Living Creatively

Today I went to the monthly gathering of our little art group of five women (see We met in a little cafe in White River Junction and afterwards went to Kathy Fiske's studio at the Tip Top building to see her new work. Normally we begin by each one checking in - telling what's new in our lives and what work we've been doing lately. Then we continue our discussion with whatever topic emerges from the mix.

What surfaced this time was a discussion of the importance of living creatively. So often we become concerned about our output: what am I producing? Is it enough? Is it new? Can I sell it? Am I evolving? How can I market my work?... and so on. Yet this kind of thinking only makes us feel driven - driven by something hard and unnatural - like working in school for grades instead of learning, or focusing one's business plan on short term profit instead of long term good. The life and spirit begins to drain out of one's art this way.

Instead, we mused, one should strive to embrace life with joy and purpose -allow ourselves to live creatively, to open our eyes and see the world, to reach out and take the joy in front of us, to be playful in our attitude toward our work. Being playful doesn't mean one can't be serious. Working hard doesn't have to be punitive.

One in our group told of an incident as a resident at the Vermont Studio Center last year. Artists could open their work to other professionals who would critique it. The first few people who looked at her colorful pieces remarked, "Where is the suffering; where is the pain?"

Who ordained that to be an artist one has to suffer? Is the world's suffering the only part of life that art can reflect and still have meaning? Indeed, there is much suffering in life - but much of it is self-inflicted. For my part, I am weary of focusing on the suffering. I am enthralled with the beauty, the majesty, the delicate complexity of nature, with the sometimes fleeting moments of sweetness in the world. It is what moves me and moves my art.

"Oh, but your art is so... decorative." This is another concept we talked about between sips of iced coffee, tea, and ginger. "Decorative" is a dirty word in some art circles - in the same way that "craft" is seen as a step lower than fine art. Such drivel. For eons art's purpose was decoration. Civilizations are heavy with monuments and buildings full of ornament. What is Paris, after all, but the most beautifully decorated city in the world?

I believe one's art is informed by one's life and one's soul. Therefore, I see my mission in life as being awake to the beauty all around me and contributing to it as best I can: to embrace living more openly; to not be so afraid; to not close up but to allow myself to open, open, open.

Another Etsy Treasury