Matt McDonald is a recent arrival to the art of logo design, although his decades-long immersion in the world of print production has exposed him to a wide variety of identity work. That could be a factor in his claim to not have developed a particular style but instead kept his look diverse. His clients certainly benefit from his print production expertise, since each purchaser receives a proof presentation of the logo, which explains such things as the color specs for web and print usage, the font, sizes and provided files, which are included on a CD.
Could you please tell us about your background and how you got into logo design?
My background in graphic design started within the print trade; I studied print production procedures from start to finish through various courses at college level in the United Kingdom after leaving secondary school.
I got into logo design by accident. I have always had a fascination with logos, born from replicating football
(soccer) team badges as a child. I constantly drew these as well as many well-known brands from that time. I've always enjoyed drawing, and creative subjects were the ones in which I was always good at school. Until around two years ago I had worked in the production side of the print trade, not the design side. However, I wanted to take a different direction and came across the DesignCrowd design contest site, which seemed like something I was capable of. However, I soon realized that it wasn't as easy as putting something together in a creative package on a PC — I had no idea what an EPS file was! I became slightly obsessed with learning everything there is to learn about logo design and design in general. I still am.
I began using Adobe Illustrator CS2 and then things really took off — I opened an account with Lynda.com and learned the fundamentals of Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign. I'm self taught from tutorials and inspiration from what I call the true professionals. I'm lucky to have a print background of 18 years, since it allows me to see different work every day. I found StockLogos around 18 months ago and the community here is by far the best I've come across. The forum helps everybody, it's great!
What design and illustration qualifications and skills do you have?
My design-specific qualifications are based on print production at National Diploma, City and Guild levels and cover such aspects of design as typography and its use.
How long have you been active in freelance logo design work?
About two years. Not long, really, but for most of my 36 years I've loved graphic design; it's only now that I've decided to try it out for myself. I don't think of it as a job or a source of income, it's a love of type, symbols, shapes, patterns, photography, color and putting all these together.
Do you supplement your design income from StockLogos with other design work? If so, please tell us a bit about it.
I work full-time in print production, so it's hard to find the time to do more work. While I do other work, I look at this as a past time rather than committed work. Maybe that will change in the future but currently I'm very selective and try not to overwork myself. It's nice that I can pick and choose without worrying about securing an income from it.
Does your logo work have a unique look to it? How would you describe your design style?
I don't think I've developed a unique style yet but in particular I do like working with type and manipulating it.
What tools do you use for your logo creations?
I use Adobe Illustrator CS5 for logo work but also use Photoshop and InDesign. I'm currently learning After Effects.
Do you have particular sources for inspiration, such as the work of other designers, or general sources?
I think StockLogos is a great source for inspiration. I'm also always looking through Behance; there are some great designers on there, as well as on Logopond.
Of your own logos, which is your favorite? Why?
This is a hard question, since I like most of them. I would say the one that stands out for me is Bennu.tv. This was sold on StockLogos in the marketplace as colourcloud. It's very simple, works in any color, and is iconic and very usable. After liaison with the client and modifications it became Bennu.tv. This company is an Argentina-based applications and content developer for the mobile entertainment industry.
I'm also very fond of the skipping beats heart logo, which is currently for sale. A few years ago I suffered with a heart arrhythmia, basically an irregular heartbeat. The specific condition was atrial fibrillation; the idea behind this logo came from this. Although not a life-threatening condition, it's very scary as your heart feels like it's constantly skipping a beat. I would love to see this logo sold to an organization that suits that idea.
Do you have a favorite part of the logo design process?
My favorite part is finding ideas and sketching them down. I have actually woken up during the night and written down or sketched ideas down.
Are your sales on StockLogos all from the public marketplace?
Some contests but mostly the public marketplace.
When you participate in design contests posted on the site, how does your process of logo creation for this differ from logos created for the marketplace?
I have only participated in a handful of contests on Stocklogos, mainly due to the lack of response or sale. Hopefully with the recent changes in place this will vastly improve, since I like blind contests and also the guaranteed payments. I will definitely be participating in future contests. Of those that I have competed in I have been successful in winning, such as Echo or Bartling.it, or been very close with others. I take in everything from the brief, brainstorm keywords and my ideas manifest themselves in sketches. I then transfer these into Illustrator.
Without a client brief to work from, what are the secrets to creating a logo that sells in the public marketplace? How do you anticipate the needs of customers in this case?
Logos for general sale need to meet a broad spectrum of clients. I think staying away from a very specific theme helps sell more logos. I try to be diverse, which is probably why I haven't developed a unique style. You should be designing for a wide range of clients for the public marketplace, from a construction company to a child play group to a new night club.
How important is the choice of font for the text element of the logo?
It needs to meet the requirements of the logo and complement its style. Although on the sales I've had here at Stocklogos, the client typically requests a font change.
How do you determine what price to charge for a logo?
For logos created for a contest you have to find the idea, so I would say these are higher priced but it depends on the amount of time I've put in.
Is it common for those buying your logos on StockLogos to request changes? And what do these changes typically consist of beyond font changes?
I've had clients contact me requesting everything up to complete logo changes, as was the case for the Altid Fokus logo. Sometimes I have no contact at all with the purchaser; this is a shame as I'd love to know where the new home for the logo is. I would add that I'm always committed to all clients until 100% satisfied, regardless of the amount the logo sold for.
As part of that client commitment I supply a proof presentation of all sold logos (shown below). This helps with having the logo reproduced for any media method. It explains the color specs for web and print, the font, sizes and provided files. These are in a printed A5 folder with my own branding, along with a flap containing a CD of all the final files. I ship this to the client and it's included in the price of the logo.
Logo Specification and Presentation
What advice would you give to someone who was thinking of creating logos for sale on StockLogos?
Designing for the contests first will help with knowing what a client wants. Once you're comfortable with that you can then explore your own ideas and see if people like them enough to buy.
How do you manage the different demands of work, life and play?
I find it very hard to submit more logos on StockLogos. Along with my print production and design work I have a hectic social life so it's hard to find design time. I have a very small collection of logos for sale compared to the other successful designers here and wish I had more time to bring it up to their level. My partner and I are expecting our first child in August, so it's going to get even busier!
Any closing comments that you would like to share?
I would personally like to thank all the staff at StockLogos for helping establish me in logo design; if it wasn't for the site then I probably wouldn't be doing what I am now.
More of Matt's work can be seen in his StockLogos member area.