We've all seen logos that show obvious signs of being strangled and beaten into creative submission. On the other hand, there are those that grab us firmly by the eyeballs and refuse to let go.
Ohio native, Tim Frame is one of those designers that inspires us all with hard hitting logo designs infused with a distinctively masculine typographic punch.
We're drawn to these marks... We smile and can't look away. They have a perfect balance of positive and negative space and a culture defining boldness and style. They are are, in a word, irresistible.
This Q&A session is a peek into Tim's creative process and history... with some other fun stuff thrown in for good measure.
Tim, how did you find your way into graphic design - What's your back story?
I loved to draw when I was a kid. I remember being fascinated by album cover art in the 70s.
In my high school art class our teacher gave us the assignment of designing an ad. I didn't realize design could be a career path until that moment.
My main reason for going to college was to play football, so I ended up going to Morehead State (KY). I had my first logo design project in one of my classes and I knew right then what I wanted to do.
My first job out of school was less than glamorous. It was working for a large corporation doing a lot of production work in an office that consisted of a drafting table in a storage room. There wasn't any logo work, but when I got a project like a brochure design, I would take the title and make a logo out of it. After a stint working for a publishing company doing editorial design, I began pursing design firms/positions that would provide more opportunities for logo design. That pursuit landed me with a retail design firm, and two more from there.
The first logo I received a lot of recognition for was for ACA JOE, a men's clothing retailer based in Mexico.
In 2000, I left the retail design world and began working independently.
What do you feel is the most advantageous skill to master as a logo designer?
As far as skill goes, I think logo design requires a unique skill set of combined skills.
It takes good conceptual skills, critical thinking, some drawing skill and a good sense of typography. Many of the best designers I know (logo and otherwise) all
seem to have strong drawing skills.
What logo project you are most proud of & why?
I can't really point to one or two favorites. I get the most gratification out of logos where I can look at it in the end and realize that I couldn't have done anything better.
I came up with a logo concept recently that I was really pleased with. The logo was for a restaurant named Rails Steakhouse. The client went with another direction by another designer. I don't think I'm alone when I say that a pretty significant portion of my best work has never seen the light of day.
What was your strangest or funniest logo design experience – or weirdest client?
This wasn't funny at the time, but I did a series of logo concepts for Stearns & Foster, a high end mattress company that had been around for nearly a century. Unfortunately so had their logo. So we set up for a meeting with the marketing team and the company's CEO. The purpose of the meeting is to get “buy-in” on the new logo from the CEO. The CEO comes in, the head marketing guy informs him that he will be reviewing concepts for the new logo we had been working on, to which the CEO replies, "I was unaware that we needed a new logo".
The meeting ended shortly thereafter.
Are there any local hangouts, shops, books or sources that inspire you when gleaning design inspiration?
Like most I follow design and designers on the web and social media. Off-line I like to go to flea markets and antique malls in search of various forms of vintage design, type, illustration and taxidermy. I've been starting to post a lot of those finds on my Instagram feed and Pinterest.
What are a couple of your favorite logo designs of all time?
There are quite a few. There are a few old German trademarks that I'm really fond of.
As far as more contemporary examples go, a few that come to mind are: Blue Hat Media and The Lone Ranger Collection by Gardner Design, Big Dog Motorcycles by Chris Parks, the Chums and Turner Classic Movies by CSA Design, the Tribeca Film Festival and Alphabet Soup logos by Michael Doret.
Are there a couple horrific logos you’d love to redesign if given the job?
I'd actually like to take a crack at a bad minor league baseball team logo.
Do you have any advice for students wishing to focus on logo & identity design?
I think it would be a challenge to specialize in logo and identity design early in one's career.
I would focus on being able to design the whole package. An identity starts with the logo, but there are other elements and considerations that go into creating the visual language that helps define a brand.
If you want to specialize in anything you have to be good at it and have a proven track record. If you want to get experience and build a portfolio of logo work, you may have to generate some of those projects yourself. Working with non-profits or small businesses may provide opportunities for identity projects that can be mutually beneficial.
…and Finally, which is your favorite product on the Go Faster Labs site?
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You can connect with Tim online at the links below: