So late last week and early this week I've been working on logo design for HAZELAND. Mostly because what I thought was going to work perfectly ended up looking like oh I don't know, spaghetti with too many chunks in it once I got to laying out covers with it.
It happens. Something that looks great in isolation sometimes just doesn't work in a completed piece. And the whole point of design is to get that completed piece together and doing the job it's supposed to do, right?
Note that I'm not really a designer. I went to a for-profit "design school" (yes, those are scare quotes) from mid-1996 to early 1998 or so. What did I learn? I learned how to use Photoshop (which I kinda did already), Illustrator (which I mostly didn't), QuarkXpress (which...ugh) and a handful of animation/video packages that nobody uses anymore. This was in the heady days of having a multimedia career, before literally armies of kids got a hold of pirate copies of these tools and went to town. You could've gotten a job out of this education, sure.
But I didn't learn how to design a god damned thing. Still not sure I do know. But I have a sense of what I like and what I think works. Sometimes it even works for other people.
So for this book series that I'm working on (honestly I am), I had to come up with a design for a logo that will work on all of them, as well as give some sense of the atmosphere of the books, maybe even the setting and maybe even the content. Yeah, that's a tall order, I know. Of course, I first had to come up with a title. For a long time it was going to be SMOKETOWN. It's not now. Spent about a week going through pages of lists of words and combinations to get where I was trying to get to.
I finally got to HAZELAND. Or is it HAZE LAND? Who knows. Jury's out. Anyway's here's the first look at it from last summer, just done up in Photoshop real fast:
Now all I have to do is come up with a logo. I tried a bunch of different approaches.
Note that some of these examples do indeed work off of older series names, but I wanted to explore the concepts for use as a logo/design. So bear with me.
I still like all of these. Just that they're probably not right for use on covers as is. Mostly too much focus drawn back to the design elements rather than the design themselves, if that makes any sense. Maybe it doesn't.
So I came up with a concept that I thought was gonna be great. Model the text with some dimensionality, get 'em to suggest buildings and architecture. And since the series is more or less about LA and mystery and fantasy, I figured on making the titular haze do some of the heavy lifting. Then I could push that even further and have the grounding element be an LA map, etc etc. It's actually a pretty good look. For a title card on a TV movie of the week. It's not something that works as a title on a book series.
Back to the drawing board. Which means going through reference and photos and type specimens until something sticks in my eye. And boy did one ever. Fell hard for it. Which of course means I lost my damn mind.
Had to mess around with this a few times, ultimately inverting the solid/dashed lines of the original type (by Cassandre, aka Adolphe Jean-Marie Mouron). Then I converted it to a neon treatment (which I'm big on, because I like neon and 3D modeling is pretty relaxing once you get into the zen of things) and laid it out.
It looks great. Love it. Gets the art deco mixed with the neon, both of which are critical parts of LA's visual vocabulary. But the moment I finish it, I know it's another treatment that isn't going to work unless it's basically sitting by itself on the cover. Now, that's a thing that you can do. Serious novels do it all the time. I'm not going that route, so, welp.
Finished this off on Saturday morning, spent the rest of the day with it simmering in the back of my mind, and then came up with an idea and a sort of a red herring of an idea and start to work.
The first one was an accident, but might be something to come back to later on. The second one was the idea that popped into my head and I started on late Saturday night to see if the idea would even execute out well. It works even here. Abstracts the type a bit, suggests urban forms as well as the neon and all that evokes. It's a good path to go down. Just not the right typeface. So I go through my selection of the usual suspects (ie, big sans-serif because serif display type just rubs me the wrong way. It's a personal failing.)
So I get it down to a couple candidates and a couple different variations (mostly the idea of having it all ride on a baseline or not) and go ahead and execute them because I'm just not able to see the variations in my head without actually doing them.
Eventually I arrive at this. Which I hope will be the final. Publisher hasn't seen it yet and I'm not sure he's even convinced that the title/line needs any branding. Heck, he may be right, but I went ahead and ran with it anyways.
I like it a lot, but I'm easy. That said, it shouldn't end up dominating the cover, and makes a nice little statement all on its own. Tough to do.
Right, then. Time to get dinner going and to do the ongoing business of life.
In other news, I'm working on a collection of stories which are all HAZELAND-based. The working title is ASPHALT TONGUES. It might even become the real title. Other stuff too, but that's going to be the big thing this summer.
Well that and picking blackberries off the bush in the backyard.