Logo Design Inspiration or a Bad Habit?

Logo Design Inspiration or a Bad Habit?

My creative process has radically changed over my twenty-plus years of designing logos. The greatest change is the shift away from visuals, and towards words for inspiration. Back in college, every graphic design project I completed had to be accompanied by the material that inspired it. As design students, we had to show how we got from point A to point B through the reference materials. We looked towards other designers work for inspiration, and rarely towards things like data, articles, or market analysis.

For many years after, I began every project leafing through design magazines and award books for inspiration. I would sit with my sketchbook taking notes and drawing thumbnails as I searched for images to spark creativity.

I look at this approach now as a terrible habit that took a long time to break. I now cringe a little when I see this same practice being encouraged by graphic design ‘inspiration’ sites that focus solely on the final visual without acknowledging either the process that created it or a glimpse into the creative brief. This method of looking for inspiration can encourage design trends and the borrowing of design elements all without strategic reasoning.

I still begin every project with research and a search for inspiration but rarely in a visual form. Writing, discussions, and tools that involve words drive me now. My favorite resources are mind maps, a dictionary, and a thesaurus. I also develop a vocabulary for each project before sketching any visuals. There is, of course, a need to understand the visuals currently being used in the market space, audience preferences, etc., but even these are translated into words. I find this allows me to work with a much clearer mind, unencumbered by my old habit.

Recently, I have been exposed to how other graphic designers work through my site Processed Identity. Seeing the tools they use has me thinking about how I currently work and has inspired me to consider different tools and approaches. Mood boards for example, are something I can see working very well alongside my written vocabulary, creating an abstract visual representation of the creative direction.


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