Nancy Carter, who presents her work on StockLogos as NancyCarterDesign, was kind enough to respond to our questions for the third profile in the series devoted to top-selling StockLogos designers. Notable in the examples here is the employment of natural imagery and a strong use of color, both elements that help the logos achieve one of Nancy's key design goals of evoking emotion in the viewer.
Could you please tell us about your background and how you got into logo design? What design and illustration qualifications and skills do you have?
I am not formally trained. The dotcom era left me telecommuting as an employed (but unpaid) web/user interface designer. I found myself at home with all of the tools, software and hardware needed to pursue my real dream – graphic design. I bought stacks of books and design textbooks from used book stores. I read everything I could online and took tutorials. I quickly zeroed in on logo design. Reflecting now, I think my first stab was at a logo contest and I won! That was back when online freelancing sites were just starting out. I was able to get in early and keep my name at the top of the charts and build a very healthy client base.
How long have you been active in freelance logo design work?
I’ve run a successful freelance business, specializing in logo design, for 13 years.
Do you supplement your design income from StockLogos with other design work? If so, please tell us a bit about it.
For the last three years I have relied on StockLogos and other online venues for my primary income. I have focused this last year on building a large library here in hopes of a relatively passive income. So far the "passive income" is a bit elusive but these last three years have given me an opportunity to explore more styles and approaches to logo design than the previous 10.
How do you manage the business side of your design career, such as keeping your books, figuring out taxes and deductions, and so on?
I’ve always begun by setting my goals. My business goals are highly personal. I do not intend to grow a big business but rather maintain a workload so as to earn a second income that allows me to be at home and take care of my family. I check all of my business decisions against this goal.
My online venues have reliable tracking of earnings and winnings. I manage the rest in Excel and keep a bulky email archive. My business is simple and so is my business keeping. Outside of this, I have a tax consultant to do my taxes.
What tools do you use for your logo creations?
Adobe Illustrator CS3. I’ve just started drawing with pen and paper. I have a few hand-drawn designs in my portfolio — this has been a fun new approach.
Does your logo work have a unique look to it? How would you describe your design style?
My portfolio three years earlier showed far less of a distinctive style. I think this was because in taking on clients you have to design for their needs — your own style is beside the point. In the last three years, however, I have been able to indulge in what I like! So my portfolio is filled with bright colors, organic shapes, swirls and twirls, animals and designs that generate emotion. I like cleverness and a surprising combination of elements. I definitely have a style but I’m always tickled when I put something in my portfolio that looks out of place and not like my design style.
Do you have particular sources for inspiration, such as the work of other designers, or general sources?
Oh, I have favorite designers! I bump into them on StockLogos (see my favorites on my profile page) and other places online and I’m always so thrilled to see their work. I appreciate the work of well-known graphic design artists but I have an affinity for the working-class designer. Someone like me, making their own way and mark! I am inspired by that. I love art and looking at crafts. Hello Pinterest! Sometimes I am inspired by the blank canvas, sometimes I have handfuls of images all around my workspace.
Of your own logos, which is your favorite? Why?
Probably Playin’ Hooky — I like the feeling I get when I look at the boy and his anticipatory stride towards his favorite fishing hole!
Do you have a favorite part of the logo design process?
Yes. I love it when a design first comes together and I know I have something special. That feeling stays with me until I get feedback. Then it retreats just a little while I make adjustments and then whoosh! — there it is again when I realize that the design is so much better with revision.
Three logos with a natural touch and an interesting use of color: Celebrate Life Love Nature - Sold, Lady's Mantle and Sweet Lodge
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?
StockLogos does provide us with a unique platform for which to design. I’m always trying to understand what’s selling. If four bird logos sold recently, I am going to design a new bird logo. But I do not leave it at that. What other trends do I see? Circle and circular designs are selling. Technology logos, too. I also research what is selling inside my general price range. Other online venues and inspiration sites provide me with a little more insight as well.
Are your sales on StockLogos all from the public marketplace?
I’ve sold a few logos via briefs but mostly the marketplace.
If you are also participating in design briefs posted on the site, how does your process of logo creation for this differ from logos created for the marketplace?
I select briefs on how well they line up with my style, if they inspire me or pose a unique challenge. I don’t always participate in a brief because I think I will win it. I participate if it inspires me to venture out and leave me with something new and valuable in my body of work. This one, for example. My approach to designing for briefs is more like a project with a client. I also often go outside of the bounds of what the client says they want — this works for me.
How important is the choice of font for the text element of the logo?
Crucial but under-appreciated by many.
How do you determine what price to charge for a logo?
Labor, first. How much time did it take from idea to finalized artwork? Sometimes if a logo was particularly inspired, the question might be: How much time does it look like it took? Then there is market research: What are similar designs going for? What can the industry bear? A dental office is likely able to invest a bit more into a brand than a day care center. Next, what’s it worth to me? If I like a design a lot I place a higher value on it. Finally, there is trial and error. My prices fluctuate but the bulk of them stay inside a certain range of prices.
Is it common for those buying your logos on StockLogos to request changes? And what do these changes typically consist of?
I’d say less than 25% have requested changes, usually just text.
What advice would you give to someone who was thinking of creating logos for sale on StockLogos? Should they begin by participating in the design briefs or submit their work to the public marketplace first?
I have invited other designers to check out StockLogos. Most designers have unused designs and StockLogos provides an excellent means to profit from previous work.
How do you manage the different demands of work, life and play?
StockLogos has provided me with a way to be even more accessible to my family, as I am able to work more freely and with the interruptions life brings! I do not have to maintain regular business hours or be available by phone. It’s a very different experience than when I freelanced the traditional way.
Should we look for anything new in the future affecting your work, such as new design tools or the use of different design logo styles?
Yep! I am definitely going to continue to explore illustration-style logos and hope to develop a fresh new style using pen and paper!
More of Nancy's work can be seen in her StockLogos portfolio area.