Step 1: Don’t be an engineer.
In case you missed the subhead: don’t be an engineer. Actually, you can be one, you just can’t act like one and expect to get good design at a reasonable price.
Don’t get me wrong; some of my best friends are engineers. And that stuff they do! I love using their feats of engineeringhood—driving cars with functioning engines, visiting buildings that can stand up in a stiff breeze, crossing bridges that don’t collapse—as much as anybody. Ah, but that wonderful creating mind isn’t necessarily a creative mind.
The way to not be an engineer, even if you’re not one already, is to guide your project by communicating your needs, rather than your design solutions. Suggestions and ideas give insights, while commandments are often counterproductive. Speak in terms of your goals, rather than giving too-specific instructions that reduce your expert into a pair of frustrated hands. Like these true-life (I swear to God) statements:
Wrong: “Make the logo bigger.”
Right: “The logo needs to be more important.”
See how easy that is? The logo may now be moved into the last place the eye flows, or put it into a pool of white space, or in a circle of flaming jelly beans. Of course, it may be pointed out that you already want the headline and the photo of your ingrown toenail to be the other most important things on the page, when there can only be one dominant element. Think how bad it would have been for Germany if Hitler’s triplet brothers were all co-führers! You know how I am about the Hitler Triplets. Don’t get me started.
Wrong: “Center everything.” This is another way of saying, “Make this as boring as possible, but able to withstand a 5.6 earthquake.” Earthquake safety is important! For bridges!
Right: “This seems imbalanced. Or am I just wearing one shoe?”
Wrong: “Though we’re trying to sell our human-like robots to Hollywood and other entertainment industries, make the flyer a list of mechanical specs.”
Right: “We’re selling this to incomprehensible people from another planet. Please speak their language.”
Wrong: “This logo must have rainbow colors.”
Right: “Since this has nothing to do with rainbows, flowers or unicorn farts, please give it the proper feel for a medical product, while portraying its name and what it does. Then build a nice bonus into your bill.”
Blasphemy! Altering the Holy Logo
Since the logo is the core of anyone’s image, it needs to stay consistent. So I didn’t change this logo. I just blasphemed parts of it.
Hotel Monaco has a strong, recognized brand, and an image of being fun and easygoing. So for two projects, I snipped one of the baggage-and-overcoat-carrying porters from the logo and had my fun and easygoing way with him.
The first project was for Parks for People, a program that works to ensure kids have access to parks and open space. The Monaco and Bambara restaurant sponsored a picnic to raise funds and awareness. Go, Monaco!
To tie the hotel and the park program together, I replaced the suitcase with a picnic basket filled with head-cheese salad. One key to making the drawing believable was using the colors already present in the original porter, and not mentioning the basket’s contents.
That same year, the ever-flexible hotel did a promotion tied to a Mötley Crüe concert. For those of you who don’t know who they are, or the significance of random umlauts in band names, the Crüe is an ‘80s metal band. So I drew a porter that looks ripe for overindulging and aspirating his own vomitus. A symbol that looks identical to the umlaut, by the way, is the “diaeresis.” Frankly, I think “umlaut” is a word one might grunt during a bout of diaeresis, but that’s an image we don’t need, so forget I said it.