Going way back to the early 2000s, computers actually weren’t in every household where I grew up. It’s hard to imagine that today. I grew up in a small town with a population of less than 2000 people. My little home in the flood zones of southern New Jersey met the criteria for every interpretation of “backwater town.”
My family purchased their first computer when I was eight. I was already a fledgling nerd at that point, obsessed with video games and anime. Since that wasn’t exactly the norm and there wasn’t a single child in my hometown within five years of my age, I spent a lot of time online. I would battle with the dial-up internet connection on a daily basis.
I made my first logo in a piece of software that sneezed on typography.
Does anyone remember when their HP computers came with “The Print Shop” preinstalled with a trial? This piece of software dates all the way back to 1984. I believe I used version 22 or 23, which is rather ironic to look back on since they rebranded and restarted their version count quite a few years ago.
It was actually a really fun program for a beginner to play around with in the early 2000s.
However, it was nowhere near the type of application you'd use to create a professional, high-quality, scalable vector logo. It’s not Illustrator. It’s not even PhotoShop. I just opened it up, decided it was better than MS Paint, and thought…
“Hey, I can make logos and covers for my books with this!”
Of course, I had no idea what I was doing. It’s so funny to look back on these youthful attempts now. They were terrible. I thought they looked amazing back when I was 11, but some were hard to read, they all had a lot of poor design choices, and they could be called “90s chic” at best or a dumpster fire at worst.
As an 11-year-old on a gigantic, old fashioned desktop attempting to make logos, I felt like a hotshot designer.
What it felt like:
What it looked like:
But the reality was more like a digital version of this. I was unusually short for most of my childhood (alas, and adulthood) so I probably didn’t look that much bigger than this child.
It was a novice’s effort, but it was good practice.
The logos were terrible. There’s no sugarcoating that. My logos now are still just so-so at best; but the important thing is that I’m learning. And the funny thing is that even back then, I was learning. I started thinking about things like what typefaces and colors would work well for a certain story’s logo.
This experience turned me into a font nerd, which is something that’s stayed with me throughout my career as a writer and editor. I always pick a font that I feel suits a personal project well, just for the fun of it. For example, I’ll usually pick a serif font for a fantasy story or a particularly modern and minimalist font for a sci-fi story. It’s just a little extra dimension of making things fun and interesting while I’m working on them.
Now that I’m learning all the minutae of theory and the process of truly sketching and designing a logo, I can see where that early practice did come in handy.
Currently, I’m learning the true backbone of typography and the design principles that go into making a proper logomark, logotype, or combination mark. There is a lot to learn and I’ve just barely wrapped my head around Gestalt theory.
Even so, since I have been thinking about things like the mood or feeling of certain typefaces since I was a child, I’ve already internalized the simplest principles of logo design. I have a very long way to go, but it’s exciting to take a childhood hobby and turn it into a real design practice.