Hand-drawn logo work found in my garage.

Hand-drawn logo work found in my garage.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. It’s hard to believe that sometimes.

Over the weekend, I was cleaning out some old boxes from my garage attic and stumbled upon some of my old logo design archives. Various cool artwork and stuff that I’ve hung on to for the sake of nostalgia and reminiscence. It’s great to see where you’ve been.

I happened upon a piece of artwork that I had done back around 1989, a logo design I had designed for my then employer, GT Bicycles. The logo redesign was for their newly acquired BMX framebuilder, Powerlite Bicycles. We were starting fresh and moving away from the original logo done in the 1970’s font favorite, Cooper Black. That’s what I said, too. Eww.

It’s strange, this seemingly non-descript couple of sheets of paper, held together with clear tape brought back a lot of memories. Aside from looking at the hand skills I had to have back in the day, but more on how artwork used to be done.

I know it doesn’t look like much, but this piece of work was actually how we used to design logos before the computer. Yep, I said before the computer.

You can’t tell from the photo, but the custom lettering I drew here has nearly 4-inch letters and stretches out to about 30-inches long. The reason for this was to get the art as big as possible to make sure all the minute details would reduce to the perfect reproduction. For this piece, I drew the lettering with a Rapidograph pen, non-repro blue pencil, and black marker on Beinfang Graphics 360 marker paper. The tools, if I can recall were an inking compass, triangles and various circle templates. All of it was put together on a full-size drafting table with a well-used Mayline horizontal rule. The idea was, with enough work and skill the imperfections would get lost when photographically reduced. It would look perfect and no one would be the wiser – except you.

Your only limitations when working like this was the size of your photostat camera and your toolset (french curves, compass, etc.). That’s primarily why the word ‘Powerlite’ is drawn into two pieces, so that each word would fit on to the image plane in the camera. The second image is what the logo looked like when assembled into the completed logo and able to fit onto the camera plane once again. You couldn’t take the two pieces in two different exposures because even the slightest change in the processing could cause the separate images not to fit exactly when assembled. Sounds archaic, right? It was, but that’s what you had to work with – every day.

Interestingly enough, Powerlite was still using an iteration of my design up until recently. I had left GT before this logo had been redrawn using the cutting edge software of the day, Adobe Illustrator 88. I look at it now and see that the designer that redrew it had missed a few things and for some reason didn’t seem to have the same character as I had originally designed it. In a roundabout way it kind of got lost in translation.

Besides, back then I wasn’t real proficient with the old mouse yet. Who knows how mine would’ve turned out anyway? At least the logo’s still around, in some way or another.

To sum up, part of the reason I felt like sharing this stroll down memory lane is to say that things in a way aren’t all that different now than back in 1989. No matter what the medium, good craftsmanship endures. It doesn’t matter if it was an award-winner or helped cure some disease. Hopefully, we can all feel like we’ve grown as creative individuals when we have a chance to look back. I hope you can, too.

What do you think? I’d like to hear your comments.