Personal logo sketches (2007)

Here are a few sketches from when I tried to design my personal logo. It’s about half the total (others were on scraps of paper, lost or binned).

Airey sketches

The Paper Bull (website offline) recently made some good points about the necessity of the sketchpad. In addition, no matter how far-fetched, it’s good practice to make a visual note of whatever ideas come to mind.

Airey sketches 1

Airey sketches 2

A tried failed attempt at a humorous organic dairy approach as a twist on my surname.

Airey sketches 3

The footprint idea came from my travels. At one point I tried to create a footstep monogram.

Didn’t work.

Airey sketches 4

Self-promotional design never really ends, and as we learn more about the profession, we grow tired of our past work.

That doesn’t mean that dealing with clients is necessarily easier. Here are some design sketches that didn’t work, and the sketches in this post were rejected by the client.

Airey sketches 5

Did I pass over a better idea from the sketch pad?

76 responses

  1. Wow – some pretty diverse variations.

    I’ve always liked the monogram you’ve chosen in the header. And I stumbled onto someone else’s site who had something eerily similar. Make that Airey-ly similar. Almost a direct copy in fact. I’ll see if I can find it again.

    So it must’ve been the right choice.

  2. WOW, there’s a lot there – I’m very impressed!

    When I’ve done logos in the past I’ve sketched four or five concepts… I think I need to do about 20 or 30 times more!

    I’m creating a personal logo actually, a typographic logo of my name. I’ll post a few sketches on my site when I have some I’m happy with.

    BTW – I think paperbull is referring to the Dosh Dosh site? Also this article shows a few similar-ish concepts.

  3. Bull, thanks for your compliment. Was Aaron right about the Dosh Dosh site logo?

    Aaron, that’d be great if you do post some of your sketches. Thanks for the link. I’d come across a few of those before, and one sentence rings true:

    “I remember one of my design teachers in school telling us that there’s really nothing new under the sun, and that if you looked hard enough, you’d find a similar idea elsewhere.”

  4. DoshDosh BINGO!
    Startled me the first time I saw it – even with the variance in blue it looked too close.

    But; and I’m assuming visual arts are the same as music; having a completely original thought is impossible. Our thinking and creativity is heavily skewed by what we’ve seen / heard.

    Can’t tell you how many times we’ve had to tweak a lyric or music because it sounded too close to “X”.

  5. Hi,
    I second Paul; great to see that people begin to post their sketches and lead-up work.

    Just out of curiosity, how big are these on paper?

    – Asgeir

  6. Nice to see all these sketches springing up on everyone’s blogs! I guess I’ll have to dig out some of mine too now…

    Sorry for ear-wigging, but I just dug for DoshDosh – already suspecting what I was going to find – and lemme tell you: there’s a difference between not being taking inspiration and blatent plagurism… And that falls into the latter of the two!

  7. Inspiring stuff. That’s so cool that you put it all online. Your current logo is good.

    I also like 101,102 and 104. Don’t know if I would vote for a change. Decisions are hard for me so I leave that up to you.


  8. WOW! David, you have a serious amount of creativity. Seriously, kudos to you. Some of those are plucking possibilities out of places most of us would never think possible.

    I really appreciate your abilities, and if I was looking for a logo, I know who I’d be contacting!

  9. #76 with the cow is the best haha :P Naw that’s good that you exhausted your design concepts for your logo. Like you said, “there should be no negativity during the sketch process” and I think a lot of designers will agree with that. I also have a hard time designing for myself. I’ve already redesigned my stationary three times and the printed version of my portfolio about five times. It’s like you’re always trying to one-up yourself, which is good because it shows that you’re open to improvement and always striving to get better.

  10. “The Paper Bull recently made some great points about the necessity of the sketchpad. In addition, it’s vital to keep an open mind and not limit yourself during the sketch process. Even if your ideas seem too far-fetched or ridiculous it’s best to make a visual note of all thoughts crossing your mind.”

    I agree. I sketch out everything that pops into my mind. Even the dumbest ideas that make absolutely no sense. Sometimes those dumb ideas lead to great ideas.

  11. Very impressive. I saw you have toyed with many concepts from pure typography, shoe print, dairy, air to double-A, wow. It seems that the current logo is an offspring from #17-19, yes?

    Just out of curosity, how long does it take you to get from the first idea to the final logo design?

    I recalled my art director took almost 6 weeks to conceptualize and work on my mirror image logo.

  12. Bull, I’ll put this instance of logo similarity with Dosh Dosh down to the point you set out — that having a completely original thought is impossible.

    Paul, I’m happy to give Maki the benefit of the doubt. I’m not sure how long he’s shown that logo for, but it could’ve been developed before mine.

    Sully, I didn’t mind number 101 too much, as I was looking for a wordmark above all else.

    Asgeir, if you’re viewing using a resolution of 1280 x 1024 (or similar) then the thumbnails are roughly the same size as they are on paper.

    PG, I’m the same, always trying to improve. It’s probably why my portfolio is never truly up-to-date, because I keep seeing better ways of showcasing things.

    “Sometimes those dumb ideas lead to great ideas.”

    Very true, Frank.

    Vivienne, I think those numbers are the ones most like my current logo. Some of the sketches I’ve lost are most likely closer to the finished article than any of the ideas I’ve shown.

    How long was the design process from start to finish? Months. I was using a different design before this, so there was no hurry.

    Tara, you know, I think I’ll change to number 76. There’s a great contrast from the blacks and whites of the mark.

  13. Its always great to see how other designers think. I can’t believe how many options you cam up with. I find designing for yourself is the worst thing and it takes longer for me to think of ideas. I agree with PG you should have gone with (76) the cow ;)

  14. Hi,
    Wow.. very creative. I guess this must have taken a lot of your time.

    You have inspired me also to look into a probable logo for my blog.


  15. What your brainstorming session inspires me to do is to really open the brain to new ideas, no matter where they lead and no matter how many half-baked ones come up…there are so many “keepers” above, that you have given brainstorming a very good name.

  16. Wow, that’s a lot of sketches! Most, if not all, I think could’ve been used. Of course now you can take those ideas and use them for other logo projects. It’s good to keep your old sketches and designs around for inspiration.

  17. David,

    Just to clarify some stuff. The logo/header that I have now was developed by a designer I hired a while back. I’m not sure how he came up with the design but he assured me that it was 100% original and a unique design on his part.

    I actually didn’t come across your blog until a month or so ago and even then, I didn’t notice the logo similarities until very recently until a friend of mine pointed it out.

    Paul Enderson,

    I can personally assure you that there’s no ‘blatant plagiarism’ on my part. I am not so silly to think that I can actually get away from ripping off David’s blog, especially when both our blogs have large audiences. The blogosphere is too small to do stuff like that.

  18. There are many very interesting ideas here.
    I must admit that your current logo seems some miles away from these, allthough 76 really rocks..

  19. Maki,

    I apologise if my comment sounded offensive – it wasn’t meant that way!

    I arrived at my conclusion based purely on visual representation – and being a designer the similarities seemed obvious to me.

    Please accept my apologies if what I wrote sounded judgemental.

  20. I like 78, but the one you chose is pretty clean. It’s always interesting to see the process of other designers. If I did the above, I’d need to scan lots of napkins and scraps of newspaper.
    Would like to see more of this kind of post in future:)

  21. Romeo, there’s an increasing movement towards number 76, so I’m thinking of a redesign.

    Johno, if I still had the scraps etc., there’d be a few ideas closer to the final outcome. I’ll see what I can do for similar posts.

  22. David,

    I think you have it nailed.

    It’s also a great demonstration to show people what really goes into design behind the scenes. Very well done; great post to boot.

  23. #50 is very much like the Dark Side of the Moon cover prism.
    WoW, very impressive. I’ve never quite reached the 100 ideas mark for my logos.

    I do like your final choice the best.

  24. 17-cool
    18-better communicates than 17 (as somtimes the “A” in 17 could be misconstrued as an “N”.
    49-is just a SWEET symbol!!
    102-cause it’s your full name, thus communicating who you are. which is (i think) what you want :-)

  25. #79 is a great idea of combining your name to form d.airy! To bad you cant to anything with Paul Harris (P.arris) is the onlything I can think of, but doesn’t work leaving the H off! Keep up the good work!


  26. Holy Cow! That’s quite a nice lineup of different logos you’ve got there. I came here because I am looking for a new design for my blog, which I started a couple weeks ago. I also am trying to dredge up a new logo. Now, I am not the artist you are, but I can do some things with pictures, and I have some good ideas for a logo.

    I was wondering if you might like to read exactly what I’m looking for and let me know if you have any good ideas. One thing in particular: the branding of my site depends on a great emphasis on the letter U (the domain name starts with this, and the rest is easy to remember). As you will see, it’s still in its infant stages. I’m great with colors, but I definitely need a little outside input. What do you think?

    By the way, I got the DoFollow hooked up. I totally agree: the promise of the Web lies in its ability to help us connect—not just to become informed. Like you, I am a big fan of things like DoFollow and LinkedIn. I’ll definitely be back here.

  27. Hi!
    David, Would like few ideas from your end “how design numerics and words” e.g Five Fifty Five and 555 what about mix & matching them as u have shown in samples above.

    Waiting to see such innovative experiments at your end.


  28. What strikes me with all these articles about sketching and design is the fact that some people actually think sketching is unnecessary, or old-fashioned!

    Sketching should be mandatory – doodling has been proven to trigger the brain into linking concepts and ‘brainstorming’. Actually I’m sitting at my desk sketching logo designs right now – it will be a couple of days until they see the Mac, at least!

  29. I have been up, down, in and out pretty much all of your posts on this site. I am just about to start my own little craft business online and your information about blogging, business, logos and design has been invaluable. I read this post about your logo and the cow/dairy sketches were how I later remembered your name and site. Even though you didn’t end up using them they are very effective.

  30. I really enjoy your final design. I like the shapes of the letters, but I get a little concerned when logos are hard to read. I wonder if the general public is willing to work that hard or if it is something that you have to be a designer to appreciate?

    Do you always reverse out your logo?

  31. I hesitate to say your logo suffers. It has a very appealing look and feel but I realize I already know what it says, so the shapes work for me. However, I printed your logo, showed it to one of my coworkers and asked her to read it for me. She said, “Hmmm, I don’t know if I can, but I’ll try.” She looked at it for another minute and said, “I got nothing. It’s nice to look at, but I don’t know what it says.”

    If your logo always appears near your name, I think you won’t have a problem. For example, your business card has your name in your web address.

    I wonder if loosening the kerning a little could help people decipher the letter forms and give your name a little more air. I’m not sure if that would actually help the legibility though.

    I hope this helps more than frustrates you.

  32. Thanks for conducting a little research for me. It’s funny, I’ve become so familiar with it that I can’t imagine not being able to read it, but then I’m not my target market.

    You’re right that my logo always appears near my name, and when I’m handing a business card to someone, they know my name before receiving it, so perhaps that’s why you’re the first to mention the legibility issue.

    This reminds of the eight logo I featured. That name might not be apparent at first glance either.

  33. I like your thought process. I’m merely only an eigth grader, but I enjoy looking at your sketches. Although 76 gave me a laugh, your choice on what you have now is very good. 81, and 108 were my personal favorites (after, of course, the one that you currently have) and I hope you continue on with your great imagination! My email was provided, so if you can, email me back. I hope to learn more from you. Thanks for your time

  34. nikky, Kristina, Chris,

    You’re all very welcome, and Chris, if there’s anything you think I can help with in particular, by all means get in touch.

  35. haha, oh man, what a time to find your site and subsequently this particular blog!

    over the past couple weeks, i have begun to think about updating the typography in my personal business system to something more custom instead of just having my name set in an existing typeface (like it currently is). i dont want to get too much into a “graphic” but just something more than generic type.

    point being, my initials are ad (close to yours eh?) and many of my sketches this past week (especially the the more rounded type versions) are really similar to yours . . . CRAP! well, at least i can take some solace in the fact that some of my ideas sorta resembled ideas from a damned good designer; )

    here is a cell phone pic of a few of my sketches from the past week or so. looks like i need to revise it a bit more to differ it more. (haha, nevermind the ruled paper)

  36. Hi Adam,

    I appreciate your compliment, thanks, and know what you mean about similar-looking monograms. I think it’s one of the first methods a designer might try when creating a logo, and in hindsight, sometimes I wish I’d have opted for a different look. But with that in mind, what’s most important is each aspect the identity stands for (what you do and how people see you).

    Good luck with your personal project. Mine took an age, so I hope you finish up quicker.

  37. I think you had alot of variety in your design brainstorming process with coming up with your personal logo. I recently redesigned my identity piece as well. Your website is a excellent tool to help designers with the brainstorming process and the resources you have on the site such as blogs, and areas to submit your comments with different opinions help young designers such as myself.

  38. came across this while looking into doing my own personal logo. great stuff and very inspiring! best of luck.

  39. Wondering what your current business card looks like since you’ve changed your logo.

    Great stuff btw David. I have been reading back though your posts and just got to this one. I discovered your blog a couple of months ago and refer back to it all the time. There is such a wealth of knowledge here.

    Thanks for sharing!

  40. Thank you so much for this David Airey (don’t think I’ll be forgetting that name soon).
    I’m studying Graphic Design at University of Canberra and we have to create a logo using our initials. This blog really inspired me to jot everything down cause something will come out of it – if only better marks!
    You are really a great designer – the finished product is amazing.
    Again, thank you.

  41. Hey David,
    Have you got any advice on designing monograms with the same letters? It is just that I would like to create one but my initials are SS and I find it difficult to design something with them.

  42. Hi David!
    Long time fan, commented a couple of times. Design Student.
    I think you should look at no 21 again. I know the first one on there is pretty much lambda (a lowercase greek “L” representing frequency in physics – used to be a science student).
    However, the next one, that is amazing! I think you should look at that again.
    Also, no 28. The word mark is really good. I can imagine the tail of the “y” running down a business card, and the implied “av” as a favicon for web pages. It’s a classic.
    I think your name makes for good logo permutationss. Sometimes, the name of the brand makes it difficult to brand, don’t you think?

  43. Hi,

    I just want to say I love your website! It’s inspirational… and seeing this post in particular makes me feel a little better about all my iterations. It’s reassuring to know that I’m going down the right path, and whether big or small, we all follow a similar process.


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