Follow up to furniture designer logo (plus type help)

nvhladek's picture

A couple of months ago I started work on a mark for a furniture designer that specializes in custom cabinet designs. He suggested the concept of two whales in a circle, which fits a sort of yin-yang aesthetic. The client lives in Northern California, not too far from where there is whalewatching, and whales also suggest sustainability, which is an important part of the client's work.

I took a first stab at the design here. Upon visiting the Pacific Northwest, and going whale watching myself, I was inspired by the Native American woodworking designs of the orca whale. These designs are used in Native American woodcraft, including totem poles. I think that the orca works well, since it is one of the species that passes along the California coast up to Canada. I think that the Native American inspiration works well along the lines of sustainability. Also, I think the designs are wicked cool.

Here's my interpretation made into a logo for the client.

I want some feedback on how to refine, and I would also invite suggestions for a selection of type. I'm looking for a humanist serif that has the two middle strokes of the 'W' overlapping, like in Garamond, but not as stiff and mechanical.

KC's picture

I could not see the whales at all until I saw the previous thread. I can see them now but it is not easy. I also keep seeing a smiley face in the bottom tail. The mouth seems dogish and less whale and the transition from body to tail seems abrupt. my 2 cents...

vintagesignman's picture

I'm sure you've studied some Inuit art to get to this point. The tail is the only part I'm not sure of. I know that they put faces within the design and I don't know if that was your intention. Is the tail taken from something you've seen?

nvhladek's picture

Yes, I've based this on two works, both of which included orca faces within the forms of the tails. I can rework the tail, of course.

I took some liberty with of Innuit art, of course, since in the traditional style, the animal forms are made exclusively with ovoids and U-shaped forms. Obviously, I did not stick strictly to this style.

In any case, is there potential in this treatment, or should I go back to the drawing board?

If there is potential, do you have any suggestions for type? The name "WHELAN" will appear below the two whales (phonetic similarity is coincidental).

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Nick Hladek

aluminum's picture

I agree with KC. at first I was trying to read it as they felt like letterforms.

Once I realize they were whales, it works great, but it's a hard read at first. That may be OK.

The only way to make it maybe an easier read would be to just use one whale in this case.

I agree about the tail, too...that's more of a fish tail. Whales have more of a splayed tail.

vintagesignman's picture

I got the whales right off, but I've delt with Inuit art. I agree with aluminum that the tail needs to be splayed. Forgive my rip, but I believe that the font should reflect the design if possible. Using Inuit art, I'd at least look at http://www.fontco.com/info02/arjowigginsinuit.php or a modified version(very rough concept).

vintagesignman's picture

I think you could work with this tail.

jayyy's picture

I would just use one whale. Fix the tail and I would revise the shapes to make as many sharp angles as circular or bulbous - more like Vintage's pic above. Point the tip of the tail for instance.

In short - be inspired by this style of woodworked art but make it more defined and graphical.

Miss Tiffany's picture

I like the idea of two whales. (Echoes of circle of life, etc.) I see two birds too. I do think the lines need more articulation. The typeface you've used doesn't work. It seems too modern to my eyes.

nvhladek's picture

I presented it to the client today, before many of your comments. He liked it, and we agreed on two things: tone down the fin, and redo the tail. I did not suggest only one whale, even though the idea occurred to me before I heard back from some of you, because (1) the client specifically requested "two whales in a circle," and (2) the idea of two whales suggests a lot (sustainability, life-cycles, etc.) (Thank you Miss Tiffany for picking up on that and pointing it out). With the revision, I am pleased that the shape of the two whales suggests and ovoid and not a perfect circles.

Also, the modern face suggested by vintagesignman does not fit the direction I envisioned. Right now, I'm liking Sabon as a type selection, although I am open to other suggestions. Here is a revision, with a rough sample of Sabon (no kerning, ripped from a website).

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Nick Hladek

EileenB's picture

I think it's getting there, Nick. Sabon is nice. The whales look better now, and the style is definitely cool. Kerning capital LA is going to be a real bitch!

I still think you have a problem with it looking too abstract and not, well, immediately whalish. (That's my new word.) Have you considered a big whale with a little whale? Momma whale with a baby may be help make it more instantly recognizable as whales. But, then again, a color version would solve the abstraction, too.

picard102's picture

This is way better then the first round a while back. Good job. I immediately saw the whales, though I can see some not familiar with native art struggling.

I think I liked it better when it was a circle rather then an oval. I'd also be interested in seeing Eileen's suggestion with one of the whales being slightly smaller to suggest life cycle.

Is this going to be branded into the wood work, or stenciled on?

KC's picture

This last design is a nice improvement. The tail is great.

vintagesignman's picture

I like your latest whale circle(oval).

Inuktitut syllabary

Origin:

The Inuktitut syllabary was adapted from the Cree syllabary in the late 19th century by John Horden and E. A. Watkins, missionaries from England. Edmund Peck promoted the use of the syllabary across the Canadian Arctic, and also translated the bible into Inuktitut, and wrote an Eskimo Grammar and an Eskimo-English Dictionary.

In 1976 the Language Commission of the Inuit Cultural Institute approved approved two standardized writing systems for Inuktitut in Canada: one using the syllabary and the other using the Latin alphabet.

http://www.fontco.com/info02/arjowigginsinuit.php is based on The Inuktitut syllabary, cree. I used Bauhaus93 as a way of a rough idea.

I love to do a little research behind cultural artwork pertaining to typography. You can usually find something interesting.

nvhladek's picture

Here it is with a more circular form. I decided against making one whale smaller than the other, since it took away from the balance and the cohesion of the circle. I forgot to mention this before, but when I presented it to the client, I asked him if it took him a moment to recognize the whales. He said yes, but that he liked that aspect of the design. He also said that the shapes in the design are the shapes he would like to pursue in his work.

Additional edits in this version: I cleaned up the forms of the teeth, and made the outside tail fin come to a point. Finally, provided the client signs off on it, Sabon looks like the face I'm going with.

Also, this is how the design scales:

What do folks think about how it scales, and also the balance between the logo's stroke and the font weight?

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Nick Hladek

vintagesignman's picture

Logo, font weight and scale all work for me. It looks good.

nvhladek's picture

@vintagesignman: I don't think your idea about the Innuit syllabary-inspired font is necessarily a bad idea, althought I'm not going with it for two reasons:

(1) A design completely inspired by Native American forms would not fit the client; he appreciates Native American designs, yet he is of European decent, so a humanist serif fits better in that respect. Since his shop is as much about selling himself as selling his work, I think that there needs to be some representation of who he is.

(2) He showed me some letter forms that he has carved into wood, and while they are more mechanical, they have aspects that Sabon matches, such as the crossed middle strokes of the 'W'. Carving these letters into wood, in fact, is part of a traditional cabinetmaker's apprenticeship training. While no typophile himself (he keeps asking me why we can't use Times New Roman), he at least has experience with interacting with letterforms in wood.

Another reason I think a humanist serif is a good idea is that humanist faces speak of the earlier days of typeface crafting, just as cabinetmaking draws from deep and long-lasting traditions of crafting furniture. So both express a parallel sense of Western heritage in the practical arts.

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Nick Hladek

nvhladek's picture

Well, I'm going back to the client with it. Thanks for the feedback up until this point. I am deeply indebted to the insights and education that this community continues to provide me.

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Nick Hladek

nvhladek's picture

vintagesignman: Don't ask me how my reply appeared before your post. I swear I am not psychic!

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Nick Hladek

vintagesignman's picture

Don't get me wrong. I like your final product. I like to at least look, do a litle research on both design and typography. Sometimes they work great together, other times they don't, it's the education that I'm always after. The one reason I'm a member of this site.

nvhladek's picture

@vintagesignman: Your point is well taken. The information you provided about the development of the Inuktitut writing system and type was interesting, in that I also have an avid interest in language and philology. Thank you for that. Although I'm near the end of this project, I'll make sure to integrate this type of research into future projects.

@picard102: I think I may suggest to the client to make a block print out of it, and stamp it onto his pieces.

Edited for syntax.

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Nick Hladek

rax's picture

Seems too busy to me, I like the concept... don't get me wrong but it certainly doesn't work that well when you reduce the scale.

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There must be some way out of here...

kiko's picture

I agree with rax. I also like the overall concept and the whale forms, but i think you'll have some readability problems at small sizes on the logo. Reducing the scale will make it look to crowded.

Good job anyway

Best

1985's picture

I really like the logo, it has such an amazing context. I don't mind the fact the whales become abstracted. It would be nice if you could give the type similar depth. There seems to be a great deal of reference in the logo, but not in the type. Design the type too!

Can we see some of the furniture? (I'm guessing a lot of people here are keen on that too)

KC's picture

Great idea, I would like to see the furniture and how they present the logo with it.

nvhladek's picture

I'm designing a website as we speak, so I'll give you a sneak preview of the client's work if he is OK with you seeing a prototype of the website.

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Nick Hladek

loki's picture

I mean no offense, but is the designer haida or kwakiutl? If not I find the appropriation a bit problematic.

litera's picture

Don't use the oval version. Use the circular one. It's more balanced and stable.
Regarding a different suggestion about the sizes. I would also like to see this same design with two whales but one bigger than the other. Don't make the size difference too big or to small to not see it. so just the right size difference.

The larger whale would occupy more than 180° of course. anyway. I also had problems at the beginning but it became more clear with the new tail.

___________
Robert Koritnik

cfig's picture

Possibly a bit late, but I ran across a typeface actually designed for use in the Canadian region of Nunavut so that their inhabitants could use the region's multiple languages, including Inuktitut, uniformly:
http://www.gov.nu.ca/english/font/

Not necessarily appropriate as far as the style you're going for, but I thought it was at least culturally relevant.

KenBessie's picture

1) Nitpick: The native artforms of the Pacific Northwest are completely different and separate from Cree and Inuit artforms. Separated culturally and by thousands of miles of geography. The Pacific Northwest is nowhere near Nunavut, and Inuktituk was never spoken there.

2) Since your client has no connection to the Haida, Kwakiutl or Coast Salish cultures, other than the stated vague geographic one, I wonder if the concept is appropriate. Orcas have nothing to do with furniture-making or the recently immigrated.

3) I think the logo itself (the original one) is beautifully executed. Good job. I think your subsequent modifications were unnecessary. You've made Arial out of a perfectly good Helvetica.

4) I like your choice of Sabon. I wonder if a titling face may introduce some further subtlety. Also, I recognize the L-A is going to give you kerning headaches.

nvhladek's picture

@litera: In the interim, I've come around to the circular one. Good point about its balance and stability. Also, I may experiment with the sizes of the two animals a little more, although the client is wanting the project done, and is satisfied up until this point.

@KenBessie: I'm glad you liked the original best, although I did need to come to a compromise between authenticity and recognition of form. As I did more research into the different ways orcas have been rendered in Native American art, I found myself less satisfied with the execution of the original piece. Also, the kerning issue is still before me. Any suggestions or pointers to help out with this L-A dilemma? (Too bad his name isn't spelled, "WHELEN"!) Also, any suggestions on your part for a titling font? I'm pretty set on Sabon, but could be coaxed...

Also, regarding those people who think that Native American art may be a bad starting point of inspiration, I pose this question: are the art forms of particular people groups privileged with regard to their usage? What would be wrong with a Native American person drawing on Western European art for a logo? What would limit Western Europeans from getting inspiration from Native American art?

The concepts that the client wanted expressed were: natural, sustainable, traditional craft, handmade, custom designed, etc. Plus, the client personally appreciates both whales and Native American art. Therefore, I stand by my design as a reasonable expression of these concepts. I am most willing to engage in more dialogue to understand if I may be missing something, of course.

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Nick Hladek

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