Logo Logic: Fire Walking

When I embark on an art or design project, I always fluster.  Some of my ideas aren’t what you’d call mainstream and often have to be explained.  And that concerns me.

Take, for example, my diversity and inclusion logo design.  My first idea was a Venn diagram.  A bit boring, but no explanation needed.  Yet it just didn’t sit right with me.  I wanted to go with something a little less obvious.  And I did.

But with creative projects I feel I have to keep justifying my idea to myself, or explaining them to others.  At the moment I have limited faith (that comes from experience) but some of my ideas are just so far off the mark I end up on a completely different path to the one I should have been on (again, from experience).

Could I be a trailblazer, a brave pioneer of fresh new territory?  Or am I just lost?

A trailblazer is literally someone who makes marks along their trail so that others may follow behind.  They may not find the destination they were expecting, but if they hadn’t started their journey they would never have known.  I’ve begun to tell myself I’m blazing my own trail.  In time I hope someone feels curious enough to follow, find what I found, and discover where I’m headed next.

Lesson 5: It takes courage to blaze a new trail, so it’s okay to hesitate a little (and you won’t burn your feet).  Enjoy the journey or you’ll miss part of the fun, and take time to discover your destination when you finally get there.

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Logo Logic: Pathfinder

I won!  I actually won!  (Woo hoo!)

So, what now?  My long wait is over and I’m no longer frozen to the spot.  But I’m still feeling the cold through my feet.  It’s at this point I realise I’m going in the right direction, but I’m approaching it in the wrong way.  I make small, progressive steps, then pause to look around me, even looking backwards.  I’m hesitating about the next step, unsure of when to move.  I feel off-balance, unsteady, like I need some additional support.  Can I do this?  Turning back feels like a choice, but that would only get me back to the start, and all those previous steps wouldn’t count.

My path is made of stepping stones.  They have natural pauses and when you go too slowly you lose your flow.  If you hesitate at the wrong moment, you stumble into the water, and your feet get cold and wet.

It’s far better to take quick, successive steps.  That way you build momentum, and your sure-footedness increases with every stride.

Lesson 4: Hesitate on a path of stepping stones and you risk losing your balance.  Keep a smooth, steady pace until you reach the other side, and only then pause for breath, reflect back and prepare for the next one.

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Logo Logic: Breathing Space

I began this series explaining how my long-standing self-doubt almost triggered creative freeze.

The leap from brief to beginning can be huge, ginormous, even.  I might pretend I’m researching a project, kidding myself that this constitutes Step 1 when I’m really hunting hypotheses instead of conducting the experiment.  However, when I feel my faith resurface, the leap to Step 2 can be sooooo much easier.

With this particular project, once I’d got the creative cogs turning in my brain my journey looked a little more achievable.  And researching the topic of diversity and inclusion rather than the logo design process was a better use of my time.

I spent four nights working on my idea, fiddling with it to make sure it was just right.  But even after I’d entered it into the competition I continued to worry about it, and sought the opinion of others.  Past experience left me doubting my own judgement, and I was back in limbo.  Now I’ve had a chance to step back from it I can celebrate making a start and finishing it too.  Whether or not I won isn’t so important.

Lesson 2: Give yourself and your creative project space to breathe, from beginning to end.  You’ll learn to trust your own judgement rather than relying on the opinions of others.

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Logo Logic: Creative Freeze

I’ve just spent the best part of a week wondering whether my outside-the-box logo design was a winner, having entered a staff competition to design one for my employer’s Diversity and Inclusion network.  The winner should have been announced on Friday, but wasn’t.

At this point I feel like I’m in limbo, unwilling to move onto another project and so facing another pause in my prolific creativeness.  On the flip side, this is a great time to reflect on what I’m feeling and where I go from here, and I’ll write about these insights over the next few posts.

Most work competitions involve a quiz or a guess the quantity of something, so a logo challenge excited me, closely followed by my well-rehearsed feelings of self-doubt – “five days isn’t long enough / what am I going to do? / will anyone like it? / my last one was terrible…” and so on.

When I was 15 I designed the winning logo for a local charity competition, and received lots of publicity, with my photo in the local press, and an interview on local radio.  I even met charity patron Kathy Botham (wife of Ian), and the Irish comedian Jimmy Cricket, who was appearing at the local theatre.  I’d won prizes in several school art competitions before and after then, and decided my future was in art.  However, another attempt at logo design was disastrous, prompting my sixth form art teacher to suggest I specialise in fine art instead of graphics.  It felt like I’d gone over the highest peak of my artistic potential and had started the slow descent.

You can imagine why it’s often easier to walk away from a challenge, if only to quieten the critical conversation you’re having in your head.  But I didn’t want to make up a pitiful excuse for not bothering (“my colleagues know I’m creative, they’ll expect me to enter”).  My only choice was to try.

Lesson 1: Acknowledge your fear, and coax it forward, or it will hold you back.

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