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Design Exercises: Creating a Personal Monogram

Chris Dickman Thu, 02/13/2014 - 08:59

Excerpted from D30: Exercises for Designers - Thirty days of creative design exercises & career-enhancing ideas by Brian Singer. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, F+W Media, imprint HOW. Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved.


Monograms play a dual visual role. For one thing, they act as typographic placeholders for the name of a person, organization or business. They also serve as carriers of thematic conveyances.

What about creating a monogram for yourself, and how about designing it in a way that conveys aspects of who you are or things you
like to do? This activity may take a few hours to complete. Begin now with a brainstorming session and some sketches, and finish later on using software, hands-on media or a combination of both.

Use a sketch pad and a pen to begin the brainstorming and thumbnail portions of this project. Later, you’ll most likely be finishing your monogram using a program like Illustrator or Photoshop, but traditional tools such as brushes, paper, watercolors or ink should also be considered.

The monogram you create for this exercise can feature one or more of your initials. Keep this in mind as you begin brainstorming ideas.

Author’s note: The samples here and the ones that follow have been borrowed from my previous book, The Logo Brainstorm Book. These samples have been included to help launch ideas in your head as you ponder options for your own design.

Begin brainstorming ways of designing your personal monogram by making lists of things that build a picture of who you are: favorite activities, interests, beliefs, art, music, books, places, food, styles, and more. Next, look over your lists and see what appeals most. Maybe it’s one thing in particular, maybe it’s more than one thing and maybe it’s a visual or conceptual melding of ideas. Record anything that comes to mind in the form of quick thumbnail sketches. The sketches do not need to be neat or detailed—these are just shorthand idea-savers for later on. Remember: There are all kinds of ways of presenting monograms—cover many options with your sketches.

After you have a few promising thumbnails to consider, begin narrowing things down until you get to the one idea that feels most worthy of finalization. Once on the computer, be sure to explore font options for your monogram. Create whatever typographic, symbol-based or decorative elements are required to complete your design using exactly the skills you possess and whatever tools you need (digital, photographic or otherwise).

Use the samples below to help generate your own monogram ideas.