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10Ways

to Make a Living from Your Art

Quick Start Guide

01

What is a Logo Designer?

A logo (or logotype) is a graphic, emblem, signature, or symbol used by businesses, organizations, and individuals to gain instant recognition.  A subset of graphic design, logos are central elements that people identify with – think Coke or Pepsi, or the lowercase ‘f’ in a blue box, which instantly identifies Facebook.  How about the bluebird for Twitter, or the green robot for Android? These are all great examples of logos, which are instantly recognizable and thus, effective. 

A logo designer, therefore, creates an identifying mark, symbol, signature, or other graphic that identifies a business, company, organization, or another enterprise in a way that is instantly discernible, and unforgettable.  To illustrate, people are called by their names, not by the way they look or dress.  In the same way, a logo is simple, memorable, and to the point.  Designing a good logo often requires a team effort, including client, a marketing team, managers, art directors, etc.  Before the design process begins, there must be a clear understanding of the concept or motive for the logo, along with the company or organization’s brand and values, as well as their target group.  Steps to the design process include research, conceptualization, sketching of ideas, refinement of design, testing, and finally production of the chosen logo. 

Logo designers are creative, artistic, and imaginative. They have strong design skills, but also the willingness to learn new techniques and competencies. They work well alone or in a team environment. Logo designers can draw more than a simple stick figure. They have a complete working knowledge of Adobe Illustrator and other design software.  They have a collection of thousands of typefaces on their computer, and some hand-made fonts too.  They know what kerning is and why auto-spacing is wonky. They avoid trends, and clipart, and have a very thick skin. They can work quickly, but sometimes for a very long time, and can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want a career creating artwork, or the best logo ever. 

Logo designers must also have a thorough knowledge of online media, the ability to multi-task, and sometimes work on more than one project (logo) at a time. They must have strong interpersonal and organizational skills and manage their time well.  They have the ability to prioritize and meet deadlines and can communicate ideas and concepts so that anyone can easily understand.  The design process can mean endless meetings, frequent conference calls, numerous emails, and many versions to complete, so patience and stick-to-it-iveness are key traits to have.

02

LOGO DESIGNER EDUCATION & TRAINING REQUIREMENTS

Although in the past, graphic designers (logo designers) were hired based on a great portfolio. However, times have changed and experts in the graphic design industry suggest prospective logo designers earn a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, logo design, or a closely-related field.  Most employers also prefer designers hold a bachelor’s degree, although some assistant jobs are available to those who hold an associate degree, or hold a degree in another area but take graphic design classes to meet hiring qualifications. 

Student’s should decide on their career goals, how much time and money they are willing to invest in their education, and what programs – graphic design and/or more specifically, logo design – school’s offer.  The National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) currently accredits about 320 postsecondary schools offering programs in art and design, but very few offer a degree in graphic design with a concentration in logo design.  Some programs require students to complete at least one year of art and design courses prior to being admitted into a formal degree program, or submit samples of their work instead.  Most schools offer classes in computer design software, commercial graphics production, principles of design, studio art, printing techniques, typography, color theory and website design.  Typical design software for creating logos includes, Illustrator, Logomaker, Laughingbird, Summitsoft Logo Design Studio Pro, and LogoYes. It would also be advisable to complete coursework in marketing and business and in writing.  In addition, many programs offer students the chance to build a professional portfolio of their work, which demonstrates their creative abilities to future employers and is often essential to getting a job. 

It’s also vitally important that designers keep current with new and updated computer software programs used in design.  There are a number of associations, such as the AIGA, that specialize in graphic design and offer classes to keep designers skills up-to-date, master advanced techniques, and refine their craft. 

Often, colleges and universities, as well as private institutions will offer students the opportunity to intern at local advertising or design firms, newspapers, or on the staff of a magazine or other publication.  The experience of working side-by-side with professional designers is invaluable, and individuals are able to see the design process from beginning to end and better understand what it takes to create a memorable logo.

03

LOGO DESIGNER WORK ENVIRONMENT & JOB DESCRIPTION

Logo designers typically work in offices or studios where they have access to computers and drawing tables.  Sometimes, designers will travel to meet with clients, or attend meetings with team members and managers throughout the design process.  Some logo designers work independently out of their home office. In fact, about one in five designers are self-employed, but most work for design firms, advertising agencies, in public relations, for a local newspaper, publishing firms, or for a printer. 

Most designers employed at a company work full-time, but schedules will vary depending on workloads and when meeting a client’s deadline.  Freelance designers may need to adjust their schedules to meet with clients or look for work.

04

LOGO DESIGNER SALARY & JOB OUTLOOK

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, graphic designers (logo designers) made an annual median wage of about $50,000 in May 2015.  The lowest 10 percent of all designers or those just starting out made just about $28,000, and the highest 10 percent, or those with a degree and a couple of years’ experience, as well as a stellar portfolio, were paid nearly $82,000.  Of course, pay varies depending on level of education, geographic location, industry (with specialized design services paying the most), and years of prior experience. 

Employment of graphic designers is projected to show little or no change from 2014 to 2024, with a growth rate of just one percent.  These projections vary by industry, with designers employed by newspapers, or book and directory publishers seeing a decline of 35 percent in the same time period.  That said, designers employed in computer systems design or a related field will see growth of nearly 21 percent over the same period.  Plus, with the continued use of the Internet, designers, including those specializing in logo design, will be needed to create logos for start-up companies’ websites. 

It’s good to know too, that an agency or design firm’s culture varies greatly. Some agencies have flexible work hours and a relaxed atmosphere, with open workspaces and beer on Friday afternoons.  Some people feel this culture leads to greater creativity, but other’s feel it’s too chaotic making getting anything done much more difficult.  Other firms focus on keeping employees engaged with families and in the community.  Some companies have a work-hard /  play-hard culture.  If you have the choice, finding a company that fits your work style will make you a better employee and help keep your stress levels under control. 

But, competition is fierce. There are even a number of ‘free’ (unless you want a high-res copy) logo creation companies online, which can inhibit job growth and opportunities for employment in design firms.  So, a good education, staying up-to-date with the latest computer design software, gaining an internship, and networking with industry professionals is imperative to beating out the competition.

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