It's a lonely life...that of the necromancer, er freelancer

A blog by a designer and illustrator, for designers and illustrators which may contain musings on art, movies and random weirdness.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Daily Mermaid Logo

My wife Amy, who works as an Internet Product Editor at, is also an aspiring writer. She has written poetry, short stories, several children's stories, and is working on a young-adult fantasy novel. In an effort to give herself a steady outlet for her writing, as well as to attract the attention of potential readers (and possibly agents), she decided to start a blog.
She wanted to call it "The Daily Mermaid" and she wanted it to have a logo. This is where I come in. Amy and I both love mermaids for a lot of different reasons, we both were born and grew up in New England not far from the sea, and all things maritime just seem to be part of our lifeblood. Plus they are inherently romantic, mysterious, and alluring.
So I started. Amy wanted a mermaid, but she didn't know exactly what form that mermaid should take. In some ways, there are way too many versions of mermaids to choose from, everything from the Starbuck's logo, to "Splash".  I started researching mermaids, trying to narrow the criteria for what Amy was looking for. One representation of a mermaid that I knew she liked , was one that we saw on Block Island during a visit there last year.

Designed by Nancy A. Cook in 1999, This mermaid is on bumper stickers and t-shirts all over the island. Amy really liked the wood-cutty, bold graphic feel of the thing, and also liked the basic position with the ascending hair and the right-facing tail, but since her blog was intended to be literary in nature, and not primarily about mermaids, it would need to reflect that in some way. The most obvious choices were the addition of something representing writing; a laptop, a typewriter, and a book. The laptop was rejected as being too contemporary, the typewriter, too dated (would people even know what it was?)
So that left a book. I did a rough thumbnail of a mermaid holding a book.

Amy liked the basic layout of it, but it needed detail. The question was, what kind of detail?
I pulled together about two dozen examples of what I thought Amy would like. She likes "classic" looking mermaids, not too weird or science-fiction-like ( no gills or webbing) she also liked mermaids that are not sexy in a Las Vegas showgirl kind of way, but more in a lyrical, sweet, simple, natural-looking way. She also doesn't like them to be wearing a shell bra. This presented some challenges. I finally narrowed it down to (2) images. One was the logo for the
Moondance International Film Festival. 

Found randomly on the web, Amy really liked the look of the mermaid, who is "non-hollywood standard", as well as the pen-and ink line quality of the illustration.
The other image that she loved was a painting called (oddly enough) The Mermaid by artist Maurice Greiffenhagen, a British painter and Royal Academician who died in 1931. The painting was done around 1900. Talk about a classic, lyric, mermaid.  As I always say, if you are going to steal, steal from the best.

My job now was to somehow combine the two images into one.  I tried doing a rough sketch in black and white that was a recreation of the basic pose in the painting, and changing some of the details. I also started playing around with a type treatment.

Again, Amy liked it, but she had some specific requests. She wanted the mermaid to be holding the book more realistically. She also wanted the mermaid to be looking down at the book, and she wanted the proportions to be more realistic as well. So I tried redrawing it again, this time in pencil, and with Amy in mind.

Amy liked it but she still wanted some changes. She had me make the hips and tail fuller, and the collar-bones less pronounced. With those changes made, now it was time to move on to the final version. Bringing the black and white scan into Photoshop, I  cleaned-up the artwork, and  then brought it into Illustrator as a template and used live trace to turn it into a vector. 
The first version looked like this.

Amy knew that she wanted the logo to be aqua-colored, with a light and dark shade instead of black and white, so I selected a Pantone 320 and a Pantone 317, which look OK reproduced in CMYK. There was a lot of cleaning up control points in Illustrator,  as well as figuring out how to give the image some shading and depth. 

Next step was selecting the appropriate type for the logo. Amy liked things in an Art-deco style. I picked about a half-dozen faces that were likely contenders; Benguiat, Berliner Grotesk, Eccentric Standard, Flower Child, and Fontesque. Amy selected Desdemona.
Originally I wanted to go with a vertical format, but the word Mermaid was too small in that configuration. 

Eventually I developed the configuration of type and tagline that Amy liked. Here is the final version of the logo. And here is a link to Amy's blog:

1 comment:

  1. Woooooow! I am impressed. The final result is just so beautiful and inspiring! You guys are a team.