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Instant Design

While we’re on the subject of creativity and logos, consider that some people out there own small businesses or are looking to start one up. Because they won’t always have the money for a talented and experienced designer, maybe they’ll buy into emails like this one that beckoned me from my inbox…

Affordable logo templates

Do you need a quality yet affordable logo? Ready Made Logos offer high quality logo templates for only $49.95. You can choose from a lot of outstanding designs, and have your loqo ready for use the same moment. The logo template will be instantly provided for download in editable source files that are suitable for your advertisements, corporate literature, and website. All you need to do is add your business name… If you are not fluent in Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw or need to slightly modify the design, we will be glad to customize the logo for you.

Our logo store is the best choice for small and startup businesses, new websites, business plans, and events. It is also a great solution to generate more revenue for domain registrars, web designers, marketing & business formation consultants, commercial printers, and other specialists and companies, which may need exceptional yet cheap logos for their website visitors.

Get your new logo today!

The prices look reasonable. After shopping around, I wondered how such manufacturing could be graphic design?

Unlike our lineup of Blue Squares, Ready-made-logos has a wide variety of solutions. And rightly so. They want to demonstrate various capabilities and options. But how do sites and services like this compare to graphic design? Why would you want a client who considered resources like Ready-made-logos?

I shouldn’t pick on Ready-made-logos. There are plenty of other template driven industries and software companies that service the public. Will there come a day when the need for designers plummets because of templates, mail-to-order logos, or design-generating websites? Are we already there, and if so, how do we assert ourselves?

Tell me if this sounds like design snobbery.

Maintained through our ADV @ UnderConsideration Program
PUBLISHED ON Jan.23.2004 BY Jason A. Tselentis
Tom Gleason’s comment is:

Many businesses of course want a cheap logo, because they need a logo and it really doesn't matter what it looks like as long as it is decent.

So what? Some businesses will want to go custom to sharpen their image. Leave that to the people who can do good logo work. Most logos are crappy anyways.

Designers have other areas to explore, which will someday become automated as well, probably. Whatever this logo company is making probably follows our precedent, so it's not like we haven't shaped the way things are going. Accept the crap we've created (and the crappy idea that a business can be identified by a logo) and move on with a greater sense of responsibility.

It makes you think about how important it is that we do things right the first time around, because the second time around it's out of our hands.

On Jan.23.2004 at 06:44 PM
hildebrant’s comment is:

I find these email so disheartning.

It usurps everything I preach, and attempt to communicate.

I'm debating saying any more. The one last thing I will say about this, is that these people, the people that would utilize such a services -- or should I say disservice -- or not business savvy people, they are bound to fail. I possibly never prove a positive client relationship.


On Jan.23.2004 at 06:46 PM
mahalie’s comment is:

I think there's a perfectly valid place for this type of service. Let's face it...some people cannot pay a graphic designer and/or just won't. I'd rather see them use a service like this that at least offers decent, if generic, designs than some god awful clip art or yet another name plate in COPPERPLATE GOTHIC.

I think that any extreme reaction to sites likes these infers insecurity. If you are a good designer, you know you offer good service, there will always be clients for you. It's like web design (which is what I do) - one could argue that all the do-it-yourself online page designers, template packages, WYSIWYGs, and even Dreamweaver are horrible, sub-par tools that steal potential clients. In reality, however, some people truly value and need websites coded to perfection, some don't.

There are varying levels of design and service and corresponding markets. I think it's clever of the company to streamline the process as they have and I'm glad to see a better alternative to MS Word clipart files for people who just want to pick something that's already done.

On Jan.23.2004 at 07:31 PM
Jason’s comment is:

Insecurity she says . . .

very interesting.

On Jan.23.2004 at 07:32 PM
Al-Insan Lashley’s comment is:

mahalie, I'm not sure this type of crass commercialism and poor "design" should be endorsed. I would rather tell a prospective client to go without a logo than suggest, or even think to myself, that they should use these services.

On Jan.23.2004 at 07:45 PM
Rob’s comment is:

As an corporate in-house designer who's faced three rebrandings in three years, this issue about templates, etc. comes up all the time. I think what it comes down to is what meets the needs for the client.

The key to business these days is that it's the customer that's driving everything. So, it's obvious that there are going to be people out there who only want to spend 49.95 for a logo as well as the people that will spend 49.950 or more. As a professional designer I would have to say that the people who only want to spend 49.95 are looking for a quick fix and aren't sophisticated enough to understand the value a designer brings to their business. And most likely, the people who are buying these cut-rate logos aren't the kind of people most of us would want as clients.

On Jan.23.2004 at 07:46 PM
mahalie’s comment is:

I'm not suggesting everyone (or anyone) endorse any form of template design. As Rob said, it's a reaction to market reality. You don't want people who will use this service as clients and personally, I'd rather see small businesses (like Joe's Plumbing, or Mom n' Pops Drycleaning and what not) use logos like these than crappy clipart.

Of course, business owners, those humans with their own "sense of aethetics" and varying levels of tech savvy will do really funny and often horrible things with their pre-made logos. But they're going to do that anyway.

If someone were to ask me what they should do about identity materials, I would direct them a graphic designer, not that or any pre-made design site. All I am saying is, there is definately a market for this stuff...and someone(+), probably a trained professional, maybe a former classmate or even instructor of yours, is going to make a killing off that site!

On Jan.23.2004 at 07:56 PM
Steven’s comment is:


And most likely, the people who are buying these cut-rate logos aren't the kind of people most of us would want as clients.

Well, this is exactly the case, isn't it? You can always find a cheaper alternative to almost everything in life. If someone only wants to pay a lousy $50 for a logo, then what kind of a client are they going to be? Most super-cheap clients are way more of a pain-in-the-ass than they're worth.


If you are a good designer, you know you offer good service, there will always be clients for you.

And so there you have it!

So now that I've agreed with y'all...

Back to my Pitchshifter CD.

On Jan.23.2004 at 08:15 PM
Nick’s comment is:

In principle, there is nothing wrong with this business approach.

However, they don't say who they are, or where, which is suspicious.

Off-shoring is an issue for designers.

As part of the logo package, purchasers get a pirated font.

On Jan.23.2004 at 08:31 PM
surts’s comment is:

Nick, are you advocating a royalty system for typographers? Are you for a system like industrial designers have with manufactures, where they get royalties from the sales—how would you want a designer compensate you for your work?

On Jan.23.2004 at 09:20 PM
Nick’s comment is:

Surt, fonts are software programs that are used to set type.

Like all software, people don't actually buy it, but pay a licence fee to use it.

It's illegal for this logo company to distribute font software, because their licence to use the fonts prohibits it.

On Jan.23.2004 at 10:19 PM
surts’s comment is:

I can't argue with what your saying, I took your previous comment out of context I guess.

On Jan.23.2004 at 10:31 PM
Kevin Hopp’s comment is:

Graphic Design needs to be addressed in Business curriculums, just as much as in a Liberal Arts programs.

Think about it - The Power of The Logo 101.

I think the business kids really need to learn more than a few weeks of branding in an advertising class.

What do you think?

On Jan.23.2004 at 10:36 PM
surts’s comment is:

Kevin, design is business. (aside from social marketing that advertising pimps from the ideals of design). I've never understood why people feel so emotional about a business transaction. It's ironic how wannabes complain about how the evil corporations don't understand them, yet what do they know about business.

On Jan.23.2004 at 10:48 PM
Kevin Hopp’s comment is:


I've seen this email (49.95 logos) and my first reaction was kinda like that VW commercial - idiota. I didn't feel threatened personally, or in any feeling insecurity, however on behalf of graphic design I was disappointed and sites/services as such cause insecurity in how people perceive graphic design.

Later on you commented....

probably a trained professional, maybe a former classmate or even instructor of yours, is going to make a killing off that site!

Maybe I'm taking this the wrong way but it looks like you're kind of validating the site because people are making a lot of money off of it. Hmmf. That disturbs me, but don't miscue that as a statement from insecurity.

There are plenty of money making machines that are inhibitors of progress. Look out here comes the drive thru logo store!

On Jan.23.2004 at 11:02 PM
Kevin Hopp’s comment is:

Not sure what you're getting at totally, but yah there isn't a happy medium between account and creative.

I would have to say that designers know more about business than business people do about design, so in that, I will stress that business majors or minors should be aware that people are just as superficial about logos and identity packages as they are about cars, watches, shoes, and suits.

I will also at the same time, from my experience, agree with you that there are a lot of designers who have a design-only mentality. Everything that is not design or art, is not worth much to them, so you run into this really retarded type of individual who can hardly spell, has a low social IQ, and *bingo complains and judges the business world w/o having really a pixel of understanding.

Nobody better use that last line in their books!!!!!

On Jan.23.2004 at 11:17 PM
hildebrant’s comment is:

A question posed:

Can one truely be a good (effective) designer, without a basic grasp of business?

On Jan.24.2004 at 01:15 AM
krf’s comment is:

The reality is that more people shop at Walmart than do Pottery Barn. We started a small shop selling paper, custom cards, journal, notebooks and cool pens and it's amazing what people buy - and don't buy. The *cool* stuff hasn't sold nearly as well as the "nice, but cheesy* things.

There are a of cheap-ass people out there that are accustomed to getting all that and more for $19.95 plus tax. It begs another discussion about Target and the "designed" products that they are starting to sell (let alone the "Martha" brands at K-mart).

There's just a lot of people out there that just don't care or notice to care and wouldn't notice the difference between well designed whatever if it em' straight between the eyes.

On Jan.24.2004 at 01:21 AM
Tom Gleason’s comment is:

It's a good thing that artist, critic and teacher Ellen Lupton has the awards, the high cultural standing and the respect of her peers to serve as the director of the Maryland Institute College of Art's graduate program in graphic design.Because the highly regarded woman also has a dark secret: She loves Martha Stewart, pastel-hued dish towels, scallop-edged trash cans, Christmas-tree shaped skillets and all.Her graduate students, she said, could learn something from the queen.

from an article on sunspot.net

hmmm... What is the difference between products mass produced and products custom-made?

On Jan.24.2004 at 02:06 AM
mrTIM’s comment is:

Can one truly be a good (effective) designer, without a basic grasp of business?

I'm sure I don't really need to say this but...

The stronger the grasp of the business world the stronger the designer.

I think that's one thing that seems to escape some clients (mainly cheap ones). I understand where they're coming from, but at the same time, I can think creatively, or just like them, or just like their clients.

The type of customer that really wants to have the guy in accounting use illustrator to plug their info into "company NAME" on a Ready-Made-Logo is not the customer for me. Or I'd dare say anyone who frequents this site...

My other thoughts on this post: It's hard to see so many swooshes in one place... Although I do like #00064 & #00065. I think it's a train, and I like trains.

I think one thing we can all learn is that there will always be a market for the Chia Pet.

On Jan.24.2004 at 02:35 AM
mrTIM’s comment is:

What is the difference between products mass produced and products custom-made?

Basic history... Industrial Revolution : Quantity lowers Quality...

That and a few more digits in the price. It's the economic Catch-22.

But the real issue is this: Is design as we've known it for the past 100+ years heading for it's own Industrial Revolution? Or will we arrive somewhere else where the general public acknowledges the importance of our profession instead of letting our efforts be passed over for 19.95 + shipping and handling?

We started out as typesetters for the KJV, where will graphic design end? And will creating templates for something as important as a logo lead to that end?

Personally, I don't think we'll ever end, but it is depressing to see stuff like that being sold. It undermines our profession... (I think I've seen this sort of rant posted before, so I won't go into it.)

On Jan.24.2004 at 02:56 AM
Jeff G’s comment is:

I would argue that the small business that buys a logo template for $49.95 is more likely to become your client (well maybe not your client because you are busy doing big corporate stuff) than a shoestring start-up that doesn't. Here's why:


They understand enough to know they need a 'professional looking' logo, and they are willing to pay for it. Maybe they don't have enough money to pay for the real thing. Maybe they like a bargain, but don't know enough about graphic design even know what they are shopping for.


If they survive--most businesses don't--they will become very busy; they will have more money; & they may, depending on the nature of their business, begin to attract a higher caliber of customer/client.

We already know that they value professionalism. And the fact that they are succeeding means that they are learning important business lessons & their saavy is increasing.


So when it's time to have something designed will they go back to $49 Logo Boys? No, by now they know they need something better & more unique. Will they do it themselves? No, they don't have time, & even if they did, they know someone could do it better for them. What they will do is ask their business friends if they know anyone. Their business friends will recommend me.


I'm only saying this because I know it from personal experience. None of my clients has bought a logo off the internet, but some have done similar things.

I sort of agree with Rob that 'the people who are buying these cut-rate logos aren't the kind of people most of us would want as clients.' However, give them a few years to grow up and they can make great clients.

I've been the first graphic designer for a number of smallish businesses. Most of them are delightful to work with. They don't know what to expect, so I can train them to expect the right things. They are usually amazed at the quality of & truly grateful for the work. They are often more willing to buy 'dangerous' design. They pay promptly.

I guess it's the bottom of the ladder to be the step up from 49-95logo.com, but it seems like a lot nicer bottom rung than Junior Designer.

To finally answer one of Jason's questions, 'Why would you want a client who considered resources like Ready-made-logos?' Because Ready-made-Logos is only ever a starting place, and if you have the balls to start a business with nothing and the sense to know you need a good logo (even if you don't know what one is), there is a good chance that you will grow up to be a good client.

On Jan.24.2004 at 07:06 AM
Jason’s comment is:

In response to some issues above, why does something like Ready-made-logos undermine our profession?

On Jan.25.2004 at 09:19 PM
Tom Gleason’s comment is:

I agree with Jason. If our profession is that easy to undermine, then it's a pretty lame profession.

On Jan.25.2004 at 11:06 PM
Jason’s comment is:

Do these other design enterprises undermine our profession? Do they keep other clients out of our hair? What do you make of this high / low divide, Tom?

On Jan.25.2004 at 11:19 PM
Jeff Croft’s comment is:

I'm still curious about the pirated typeface issue here. How are they getting away with bunlding commercial fonts with their $50 logo?

That is, of course, if they really ARE doing this -- but it sure seems that way.

On Jan.26.2004 at 09:04 AM
Greg’s comment is:

OK, Imagine with me a scenario...

Let's say an identity designer wants to buy a rake. Now instead of going to Wally World or Target or any of the myriads of places that sell mass produced rakes, he decides to build one himself, with no prior knowledge of rakes. Or even stranger, he goes to a "rake-builder." Doesn't make much sense, does it?

That's the way a lot of, and I would guess MOST, people view design. I think it indicates a growing societal trend, of mass produced design...now the "ready-made logo" concept is probably taking it too far, and I can't imagine a business owner who is smart enough to stay in business for any length of time actually buying a logo from this company, but at the same time the fact that someone's out there doing this is proof enough that someone bought it.

I guess the short version of what I'm trying to say is that if someone doesn't understand a concept, more and more they're not coming to people who actually do; they're going to someone who is giving the best price.

On Jan.26.2004 at 10:05 AM
Jeff G’s comment is:

I can't imagine a business owner who is smart enough to stay in business for any length of time actually buying a logo from this company

Greg, take a look around your town at all the really, really terrible logos that have been around for a really long time, then rethink that statement.

One's ability to acquire a good logo is a poor measure of one's business intelligence.

masslogodesign.com is just the latest outlet in the big crap logo industry.

But the rest of your point is very good. There is so much competition out in the world of comsumption that people expect to get good stuff cheap. (I know I do. When it comes to stuff I always buy quality, but I rarely pay full price, and I find it offensive when I have to.) However, this mentality does not translate well to the world of arts & craft & ideas. And when you try the end result is something like the mass-produced logo.

On Jan.26.2004 at 10:29 AM
Greg’s comment is:


Point taken. But to be fair, I come from a town with a somewhat high designer/commonfolk ratio (Wichita, KS). Not to say there's not bad design EVERYWHERE, but most businesses with staying power here have already met Bill Gardner or his ilk.

On Jan.26.2004 at 11:22 AM
Armin’s comment is:

Besides what has been said here, to me it's just heart-wrenching to see what we so carefully do get minimized to a set of templates. It just plain sucks. I'm not certain if it affects me directly and tangibly, but I hate to see it happen, I'm sure both parties in those deals end up happy with the results… and that's what matters isn't it? That the client is happy.

Not long ago a similar web site was submitted as a possible discussion by Von Glitschka. This one, called LogoYes, worried me a bit more, mainly because it is very well presented. This web site has more chances of taking away business from one-man design firms because it looks so impressive and flashy. I mean, to a small business owner this looks like the ultimate in logo design.

On Jan.26.2004 at 12:15 PM
Jason’s comment is:


I think that any extreme reaction to sites likes these infers insecurity.


I really admire mahalie's statement. She's cutting right through the noise with a reaction like this, and what's more, she's on to something. In security is about questioning, even being skeptical. I have a right to be insecure when people like "Ready-made-logo" tell people that design is instamatic. This devalues our abilities and capabilities.

LogoYes is a buttered up version, that tries to appeal with stock photo. I'd label them as a second generation of Ready-made-logos. What will the third generation look like? Are there other studios or services out there doing this junk?

On Jan.26.2004 at 01:18 PM
James Craig’s comment is:

Speaking as one who does not endorse this, I think you should update the SpeakUp entry to not include so many links to the Ready-Made-Logos site. You've heard the phrase: Any press is good press. Well it turns out that, with Google, that's true. Google's search rankings rely on these type of links. As far as the Google-bot knows, this post on a respected design topics site (SpeakUp) endorses Ready-Made-Logos as valid source for "new logos," "logo store," "high quality logo templates," and "quality yet affordable logo."

I realize you were just mimicking the email, but why not change it to make the "Ready-Made-Logos" text the only link to the site? I think it will help our purpose by not promoting the company more than it needs for the purpose of the discussion.

On Jan.26.2004 at 01:22 PM
Jason’s comment is:

James, you make a good point. A very good point. We've dropped some of the links.

On Jan.26.2004 at 02:59 PM
steve’s comment is:

I don't think it's safe to assume that the people using this site would otherwise be paying REAL designers REAL fees to design their logo. It's more likely the case they'd be "designing" the logo themselves in Word or doing nothing at all.

At worst, there are some crappy logos out there. Nothing new.

At best, maybe next time they use a "real" designer.

Let's call it entry-level logos.

Just a thought.

On Jan.26.2004 at 03:13 PM
Armin’s comment is:

I'm not sure it is insecurity. Like I said before, it's more a matter of principle. I, for one, don't think that what we do can be condensed into preset values that are then spewed out with some company's name on it.

On Jan.26.2004 at 04:02 PM
Tom Gleason’s comment is:

When Armin mentions that ready-made logos reduce our profession to the use of templates, he raises a critical issue. The fact that book typography followed a traditional template for hundreds of years before the late 19th century is one reason that many thinkers on graphic design don't believe "graphic design" existed before ideologies started opening up spaces for formal exploration in this area.

Nevertheless, we have created this monster. To the extent that our businesses have been doing this kind of work, which was able to be automated, we haven't been engaging with the critical questions so crucial to an authentic practice of graphic design. By not questioning the appropriateness of logos, the typical traditions of logo design, and all of the other modernist assumptions inherent in the use of and making of such logos, we have given over our power to systems of the economy.

It would be interesting to avoid an elitist, high/low division and invite these people into the discussion. They may have interesting reasons for destroying graphic design. I remember almost pursuing similar projects myself, because I was convinced that graphic design didn't have much to offer with its lack of critical thinking. Why not automate it?

In the very idea of an instant logo business is the idea that "graphic design" is dead, which we can't really dispute insofar as we haven't been exploring the idea of design as an integral part of the practice. It is all the more important, now that we see robots taking over even the "creative" sector of life, that we cease to neglect the discursive, "external", "ideological" side of true graphic design practice.

On Jan.26.2004 at 06:24 PM
Aaron’s comment is:

Domino's Pizza is crap, but it's cheap and they rake in the cash. I'd venture to say they didn't put too many independent pizzeria's out of business. (and if it did, they probably sucked anyway, right?)

Point being...

Unfortunately, while a site like this is laughable, sometimes there has to be a low-end to appreciate the high-end. Apps have had templates for years and here we are, still providing better services.

Is anyone using Illustrator CS yet? In case you haven't had the opportunity to take a crack at it yet, you should know that it is FULL of templates, including templates for websites, marketing materials, ads, brochures...just about everything. No designer in their right mind would use these of course, but someone will.

On Jan.26.2004 at 06:50 PM
Jason’s comment is:

Aaron, you're scaring me. I am now more insecure than ever!

On Jan.26.2004 at 09:28 PM
Steven’s comment is:

Tom G-

In the very idea of an instant logo business is the idea that "graphic design" is dead, which we can't really dispute insofar as we haven't been exploring the idea of design as an integral part of the practice.

Hey Tom, I'm all for exploring the idea of design, but that activity has no bearing whatsoever with these logo companies. This is more related to fundamental economics and the fluidity and ubiquity of media. The opportunity to make money is there, so it will be exploited. Having grand discourses on the idea and value of design, ostensibly closed to primarily designers, will have no effect on the general business community at large. Now, if MBA programs across the globe start to explore the value and meaning of the idea of logos within the modern economy, well then maybe there might be some small interest in dissuading these kinds of stock logo shops.

General Comment

While I too feel a little annoyed by these kinds of sites as somewhat sabotaging the tiny or one-person design firms, I also realize that the kinds of people that are only looking for a quick fix for their identity are not going to be very open to the kinds of complications and larger fees that are associated with hiring a design firm.

Look, there's always going to be a cheaper alternative for things; and for some, that's all that matters. I mean, Lands End sells men's suits through their catalog. I think that it's completely ridiculous to think that these suits are going to fit properly, but apparently many people have no problem with it. So they continue to sell suits.

Also, downloading a logo off the Web and sticking it on the top of your letterhead is not really creating a brand or identity. I think it's safe to say that most of the participants of this site would feel that brand and identities are much more complex and specific. So in saying all of this, the values of our profession are not being completely undermined. I'm guessing that smart business people realize, at some point, that just downloading a logo doesn't solve all of their marketing and branding needs. And that's when they call in a trained, talented professional to help them.

Lastly, isn't downloading a logo off the Web, in a way, just like downloading a photo? Aren't we being a bit hypocritical?

On Jan.26.2004 at 09:36 PM
Tom Gleason’s comment is:

Steven, we agree I think. My point was that this is only threatening to us if we have been doing things that can be automated and passing it off as real creative work. When you say that creating a logo like this is not really "branding" or identity, you are engaging in the practice of "graphic design".

To include Instant Design in the discourse on design (rather than to take an elitist position), I am inclined to say that these companies are making a legitimate challenge to the graphic design profession, tacitly if not explicitly. They probably would not believe that their business REPLACES design, but they are stepping in that direction. We need to take these challenges seriously, as if these people mattered in the big argument. Otherwise, design criticism really is parasitic rather than synergistic.

On Jan.26.2004 at 10:41 PM
Steven’s comment is:


Yeah, I guess we are basically on the same page. Insta-D-Zine(tm) entities are making a legitimate challenge to the traditional role of designers, which I think can only be countered by enlightening small businesses of the long-term ROI value of having "site-specific" creativity. However, I think that people with any modest amount of business acumen would not take the risk of an automated professional service. Insta-D-Zine is only really useful for the low-end mom-and-pop operations that would never really use a designer anyway: ya know, like Shirley's Nail Boutique, or something.

Interestingly, though, having these kinds of logo operations out there forces the design profession to take stock of itself and stay a bit more humble. And it helps to make the dialog of design be a bit more practical, too.

On Jan.26.2004 at 11:28 PM
Jeff G’s comment is:

This web site has more chances of taking away business from one-man design firms because it looks so impressive and flashy. -Armin

While I too feel a little annoyed by these kinds of sites as somewhat sabotaging the tiny or one-person design firms... - Steven

As a tiny, one-person design firm, I'd like to 1) thank you for your concern & 2) put your minds at ease.

I am a self-taught designer, and with the exception of 2.5 clients I work for small companies that could conceivably think of using the sites mentioned. But they don't because (as far as I can tell) I am practicing graphic design. What I do adds too much value to them for them to think of purchasing something generic.

Down here at the bottom of the design ladder I bump up against things like these websites, printers' "design" services, and the owner's friend's kid who has a GCSE in art. Despite all that there more than enough small businesses to keep a good designer (or even someone who's working on being a good designer) busy.

btw, Tom G, I've enjoyed reading your posts a lot more now that we are not the philosophy conversation and you are speaking up in plain english.

On Jan.27.2004 at 04:33 AM
Greg’s comment is:

What I think you have to remember in order to not be daunted by the idea of a "logo factory" website, is that we're the artists, not them. I agree with what Aaron said, that there needs to be a low end to appreciate the high end. Yin and Yang. There is no good without evil.

On Jan.27.2004 at 08:54 AM
saxophonejones’s comment is:

It seems like a better version of this idea would be some sort of premade template that would be "retired" after you bought it. Am I missing something or,if you use this service, you could, in thoery, have the same logo as your neighbor? If that's the case, and multiple companies have the same logo with a different name on it, then it's crap, right? Maybe I'm not understanding the concept [I'm just a lurker, not a designer].

On Jan.29.2004 at 09:11 PM
Jacques’s comment is:

Saxophone Jones just beat me to what I thought was the one obvious problem with the concept of buying a readymade logo from a catalogue. No one else thought about this?

One of the primary reasons for giving a company an identity is surely to differentiate it from its competitors?

I'd rather see them use a service like this that at least offers decent, if generic, designs than some god awful clip art

And, Mahalie, I can't quite figure out the difference between the collection of shapes and words on Ready-Made Logos and the collections of shapes and words to be found in clip art packages.

I think I'd much rather people use clip art and system fonts to make up their own logos. At least they'd be more honest and unique interpretations of their businesses than a generic pseudo-corporate logo. Why do smaller family run businesses (for example) have to look like a multinational? (the latter of which often have much uglier identities than the still awful ones on Ready-Made, anyway).

On Feb.01.2004 at 04:24 PM
Richelle’s comment is:

While I have to admit that seeing these automated logo sites gave me a little scare, the jolt quickly wore off.

Back in the late 80's or early 90's, I got a cheap litte synthesizer for a gift (I was thirteen or fourteen at the time). I loved this little synthesizer. And I, like many young kids, dreamed of becoming a famous musician while I tried to teach myself how to play it with both hands instead of just my right hand. I never did succeed. Anyway, this little synthesizer and many other more expensive ones out at the time, came with an option where you could choose from different drum patterns, and you could speed it up or slow it down. Let's call this a template. I could go in, pick some sound like "trumpet", make some bad melody, then save that track to play over the drums. From there, I could keep choosing different sounds (aka instruments) and make bad melodies to lay over the drum template and my addition of trumpet. What I was doing COULD be called "making music". But in reality I knew I was only just making noise.

There were way better synths on the market you could buy, ones that came with more "templates" to choose from than just drum styles. But even then, it was extremely rare for anyone who used one of these "templates" from a synth, no matter how expensive it was or how many different tempos it came with, to make a good song. You could hardly call these people songwriters or musicians since they didn't create the whole thing themselves. They built it using settings. And the result was rarely ever any good.

My point is that people making music using these settings knew they weren't real musicians, and the people hearing the outcome knew this wasn't real music. But it is what you got when you bought a cheap synthesizer instead of paying for a real musician. Just like when people buy a cheap logo from a website. Maybe they will have fun while they build their own logo. But most likely in the end, they'll know it's not a real "designed" logo, and they'll know it's not really any good. They will learn and grow. And next time they'll pay for real music instead of self-taught creative noise.

On Feb.01.2004 at 04:31 PM
Luis B.’s comment is:

Long time reader, first time poster. I love this forum.

As a second year design student, I was very excited by a senior student's thesis. He is using some very basic AI and genetic algorithms to create typographical compositions. The software is very limited at the time, being a one-person half-time project, but is has managed to pass a sort of Turing test: none of the teachers were able to consistently tell computer generated designs from those created by students.

This is a step beyond templates, as designs never repeat themselves, and evolve constantly, based on the users one-click decisions. Computer generated designs that are in a way ORIGINAL, and can DIFFERENTIATE whoever uses them.

Most of my teachers felt threatened by this little piece of software, and used arguments strikingly similar to those posted here. I was for my part excited: I will not be hired to make yet another boring small flyer.

In the same way the mouse freed my hand from the need to learn to cut and paste text with scissors and glue, computers will free my mind from boring, repetitive and banal tasks. I will rather concentrate my efforts in developing skills that are not likely to be automated during my lifetime.

And I hope I will be hired because of this skills, by people who have more interesting problems to be solved. What fun is there in doing what a computer can do faster, better and cheaper?

And now a question for you real world designers: Where do you think automation will stop? I am still in school, and I want to start my professional life one step beyond that point.

On Feb.05.2004 at 04:45 PM
Tom Gleason’s comment is:

Wow, what an interesting post, Luis. And a great question. Why spend years learning to kern if we can get a computer to do it correctly? Why spend time learning to make typographer's quotes, if a smarter computer could tell when to make a difference between an inches sign and a quotation mark? Why NOT make a computer that has the sense to position things in an aesthetically pleasing way? It is of course possible, and I questioned my teachers about the same things. These skills will be largely obsolete very soon, and we will only need a few experts to mediate between the broader discourse and the programs that automate things.

If teachers would realize this, design students could spend their time on much more important matters and considerations. For example, to know the history of typographic theory would be very important in the design of these programs; much more important than making a brochure. To think about and expand a concept of design as rationality is so much more important than pleasing the aesthetic whims of your teacher. Teachers who feel threatened by this kind of thing are very behind the times, and do not understand what design is all about.

We also need to think about design as an art, not just as a science, to provide a basis for critical human opposition to this technological automation.

Keep posting man.

On Feb.05.2004 at 05:01 PM
Tom Gleason’s comment is:

Luis, DesignIssues journal has published quite a few articles on AI and design, which you might be interested in if you are not already aware of them.

An influential article for me was Nigel Cross's "Can a Machine Design?" in the Autumn 2001 issue. It ends with:

"For me, the value of asking the question 'Can a machine design?' is that it begs the corollary question, 'How do people design?'"

On Feb.05.2004 at 09:44 PM
Armin’s comment is:

I couldn't find it, but somebody in this thread had mentioned InDesign's templates right? I was putzing around the internet and the templates are done by some well-respected designers like, and I quote:

Kirsti Scott of Scott Design, Cheryl Tower Weese of Studio Blue, Clement Mok of The Office of Clement Mok, Diti Katona of Concrete Design Communications, Earl Gee of Gee + Chung Design, Matteo Bologna of Mucca Design Corp., Roberto de Vicq of HarperCollins and Sean Adams of AdamsMorioka.

Found here.


On Feb.13.2004 at 02:42 PM
Jason’s comment is:

Yes, Armin. Someplace this discussion came up about Adobe's CS templates. I don't know if it was this thread or another. I'm rather vexed to see some of these names you've found. Perhaps they can lend their talents to MT next?!

On Feb.13.2004 at 04:42 PM
graham’s comment is:

'Kirsti Scott of Scott Design, Cheryl Tower Weese of Studio Blue, Clement Mok of The Office of Clement Mok, Diti Katona of Concrete Design Communications, Earl Gee of Gee + Chung Design, Matteo Bologna of Mucca Design Corp., Roberto de Vicq of HarperCollins and Sean Adams of AdamsMorioka.'


On Feb.13.2004 at 06:22 PM
Armin’s comment is:

graham, you are funny.

On Feb.13.2004 at 06:39 PM
graham’s comment is:

no-really. i don't know who these people are and was interested to find out-especially from someone's personal point of view rather than just googling for them.

it might be a good thing for others who don't know, too.

On Feb.14.2004 at 08:25 AM
Armin’s comment is:

Ok — but I still think you are funny.

Kirsti Scott of Scott Design — on this one, I'm with you, who?

Cheryl Tower Weese of Studio BlueStudio Blue is here in Chicago, they do some great work on art books or any sort of book for that matter. Their identity work isn't bad either but they are better known for their book work. Cheryl's partner, Kathy Fredrickson, is President of AIGA Chicago.

Clement Mok of The Office of Clement Mok Clement Mok is past president of AIGA National. He started Studio Archetype which then transformed into Sapient which now is forgotten it seems. He is also supposed to be credited for coming up with the term Information Architect within the design cirlces (if anybody has other info on this feel free to correct me)

Diti Katona of Concrete Design Communications — I haven't followed much of their work but it seems to be pretty good. Her name also constantly comes up in design-related stuff.

Earl Gee of Gee + Chung Design — Nothing cool of mention.

Matteo Bologna of Mucca Design Corp — this guy, I just came across his web site which is what led me originally to find this list. They do some cool, boutiquey work.

Roberto de Vicq of HarperCollins — First time I hear of him.

Sean Adams of AdamsMorioka — Sean is partner with Noreen Morioka in, you guessed it, AdamsMorioka. They do good, fun work for clients like VH1, ABC, ESPN. Sean also teaches at CalArts or whatever it is called nowadays.

On Feb.14.2004 at 10:08 AM
Allison Duine’s comment is:

Exerpt from an email I sent to the editor of Graphic Design USA magazine.

Please accept my comments to the “Symbolic Entry” segment of August’s Lookout section on the controversy about LogoWorks:

Since a logo design is the root of any corporate identity, it is of utmost importance that the design be well thought out and focused rather than just another job plopped onto an overcrowded assembly line of freelance designers. While most businesses want to cut costs and save money, are they really saving anything in the long run? An effective logo design must serve as an identifier therefore it must visually communicate the essence of the company, and serve for the life of the company. The process of designing a logo requires time, individual attention and dedication. Your designer must take the time to understand your company, your values, and your approach to business. Your logo design must something that is thought driven and unique to your company, not drive-thru driven.

The comment was published in the October 205 issue.

On Nov.09.2005 at 10:22 PM