If you need some inspiration for your logo, fear not—you’re likely not alone. Some of the greatest minds in graphic design faced the same difficulties when coming up with fresh ideas for their iconic logos.
However, many of these legends have found tried-and-true ways to continue creating, and their strategies might work for you. Here are five secrets from some of the most legendary designers to help you uncover the inspiration you need!
“Brands are more than simple images-
they are your unique message
that differentiates you from everybody else.”
For Ivan Chermayeff, the recently deceased logo legend, the key to finding the right inspiration is to constantly create. According to him “I do a tremendous volume of work. The way I work is very fast… I throw a tremendous amount away, and say okay, it’s just not going to work… I throw things right into the garbage can, as opposed to juggling and finicking and doing those things that painters do.”
You can always find inspiration by simply playing around with different patterns and colors. Chermayeff was famously known for his penchant for making collages, which he crafted from everyday items.
Simply getting in the mindset can help steer you in the right direction. Equally important, however, is to not get hung up on ideas that don’t work and can lead you to hesitate or waste time you could be using to find actual inspiration.
Living graphic design legend Bob Gill sees inspiration as something that produces unique results. Moreover, inspiration can be hampered or destroyed by worrying about what the world thinks is good or bad.
In his mind, good is a matter of function, “there is no good. The good comes from what does the job.” In our endeavor to find inspiration, many times we can be tied down to our preconceptions of what is a good design and what doesn’t work.
Instead, Gill suggests that to be truly creative, we must rid ourselves of these harmful notions and think about what works in a particular situation. Your logo may not be what every other company in the industry does, but if it works for you, then it’s the best design. Find creativity in what works personally and discover ways to communicate it in your designs.
Seymour Chwast is widely recognized as a driving force in graphic design, with a bold voice and a broad range of styles. To him, thinking vertically—when you stick to an idea that isn’t working—digs you into a creative hole. When you’re designing a logo, you can sometimes force an idea that you originally thought was good, even if the execution doesn’t work.
Don’t be afraid to abandon your ideas and look for better ones if they don’t fit your vision. Chwast says “if you dig a hole and it’s in the wrong place, digging it deeper isn’t going to help. The lateral idea is when you skip over and dig someplace else.”
Fear of getting started can be a strong paralytic. Taking a leap with an idea can be scary, but Bruce Mau, a legendary designer behind several major campaigns, says that not knowing where to start shouldn’t always be a bad thing.
To him, it’s okay to drift sometimes without a direction. When you let your mind wander, it can find interesting new pathways that you can’t see if you’re focused on a single one.
“Allow yourself to wander aimlessly. Explore adjacencies. Lack judgment. Postpone criticism.” Trust your mind to find its way and give yourself a broad empty canvas to draw on. When you stop worrying about the right path, you’ll start unearthing more creative avenues.
Paula Scher has been one of the most innovative minds in design for years now, and her approach to creating new visuals is the definition of fun. Scher believes in approaching her work the way she approaches playing a game and has fun with the process. Trying too hard or obsessing too much can lead to frustration and bad ideas.
In her mind, “I play when I design. I even looked it up in the dictionary, to make sure that I actually do that, and the definition of ‘play,’ number one, was ‘engaging in a childlike activity or endeavor,’ and number two was ‘gambling.’ And I realize I do both when I’m designing.” Don’t be afraid to cut loose and take chances. Creative work should never feel like a chore.