Join Bill Gardner for an in-depth discussion in this video Brush: Artistic brevity, part of Logo Design: Handmade Aesthetic.
- In the early days of computing, I can recall an expert trying to assuage the fears of a public unfamiliar with the technology by suggesting the computer was no more than a fancy shovel. I think he was aiming a bit low, but I get his point, that it's just another tool. And though we operate that tool with our hands, it somehow depersonalizes the product it generates, if we let it. Inversely, there are those tools we use as artists that send a message of complete immersion of both hand and soul in the design process.
Sure, there are plug-ins, apps, and programs that allow us to emulate a brush with a computer. Which is perfectly fine, however, the fact that we have made a conscious decision to design using a brush stroke for example, shows our desire to express our personal connection to the process. By signaling a desire to humanize the visible brand of an organization or product, we're telling the consumer that we are willing to take that burdensome, corporate decision making process out of the middle of our communication.
We're investing in this relationship by signaling a personal investment of our time. I can't attest to the method of creation for any of these logos, but I can assure you the intent was to give the appearance of an authentic brush mark. Not only does the use of a brush show an immediacy to the process, it's also very gestural. The consumer quickly sees motion and understands the artist's intention.
But it is hard to be overly critical of the draftsmanship. It is exactly the speed with which these appear to have been produced, that makes them work. The horse in motion had to be committed to the page quickly to capture the movement. We know a bird won't stay aloft for very long without flapping its wings, and the spirited brush strokes assure us he won't soon be dropping from the sky. All of these require multiple brush strokes. They are complex, despite their naivety, and they are honestly within your reach.
If as logo designers, we are asked to knock concepts down to their bare essence, all of these have done just that. Well, maybe with the exception of these brush stroke marks that have really carved the essence of a mark down to the core. As with the previous group, you can see that the strokes, though minimal, are highly gestural. It's the remnant of the brush stroke and the way it exits the connection with the paper that lets you feel the artist laying down the mark.
It hasn't been finessed or massaged within an inch of its life. It's gutsy and has no room to be anything but honest. Having created logos that were painted with a brush, it will be no secret to learn the designer of the Kaila Harkins flower mark probably painted that same flower a hundred times to find just one whose imperfections were truly perfect. This mark for Pacific North Capital is unquestionably a sailboat and the rough edges of the stroke give me a sense that I may be seeing it in motion at a distance and possibly through the fog.
If I took this very same mark and tried to perfect it by making it a crisp vector image, it would no doubt be a pretty questionable boat. The haziness of the image allows the consumer to fill in the blanks.