Designer, illustrator and prolific logo creator Rian Hughes offers some priceless advice to wannabe band-logo designers.
1. Don’t let the entire band stand behind you while you design. They’ll inevitably offer up divergent opinions, and you may find yourself smoothing over an incipient ‘creative differences’ split.
2. Don’t throw in one extra design at the last minute to make up the numbers. They will choose it.
3. Don’t let the visiting trance electronica band see your Neil Diamond albums, and vice versa.
4. Don’t tell your favourite band that this new album isn’t as good as the last one.
5. Don’t comment on the band’s dress sense or personal hygiene. Remember, soap is not very rock ’n’ roll.
6. Don’t use a trendy font. It’ll look dreadful in a few years. Even for a trendy band who will sound dreadful in a few years.
7. Don’t use cover imagery produced by the lead singer’s girlfriend/a friend of the band/the bassist’s grandmother. Unless it rocks.
8. Don’t sue the band if they illegally email you a font they’d like to use and it turns out to be one of your own.
9. Don’t allow the label to add a “The new album from the band who brought you ...” starburst in the corner in a free font they found online. If you have a choice in the matter, which more often than not you don’t.
10. Don't expect the label to send you copies once they’re produced — it's often less hassle to go and buy them.
1. Do deal with one representative who can channel the band’s diverse opinions through a filter of rationality and beat down the discontents so you don’t have to.
2. Do get the band to sign off on the copy they have supplied and you have laid out, unlike a certain dance DJ whose expensively produced padded double CD had to be reprinted.
3. Do listen to the music. More than once. You may even like it.
4. Do steer a band away from a spoof logo. “We want the Super Fly logo,” is a request I’ve heard several times.
5. Do keep account of all the times the band changed their mind so they don’t baulk when you finally list the hours you’ve invested.
6. Do remember that a sleeve design is not just a logo. And sometimes, it’s not even a logo at all.
7. Do keep your ego in check. This is commercial art, in the service of your client.
8. Do allow your ego a bit of free reign. Even a manufactured band can be dressed in an immaculate bespoke suit.
9. Do have an idea. Every logo, however simple it may be, is an articulated concept. Before you start, make sure you can articulate that concept verbally, even to the drummer.
10. Do remember to invoice — small labels often aren’t around for long.
Rian Hughes is a prolific graphic designer, illustrator, comic artist, author, and typographer.
All images ©Rian Hughes.