Quality Logo Design Does NOT Cost $5

Graphic Design is a very unique profession. It requires not only technical skill and knowledge, but also creativity and some level of artistic talent. It also usually requires a fairly hefty investment in terms of professional hardware and software, in addition to font libraries, vector assets, plugins, stock photos etc.

This makes it very difficult sometimes to qualify the value of a Graphic Designer or a project they will be producing for a client. There are a lot of different business models used by Graphic Designers and Creative Agencies. Some use billable hours, some use flat rates, others use estimates, some use a their own method for determining rates.

With that in mind one would think no reasonable person would expect a logo for $5.00 but they do.

If you want to watch a very informative but entertaining Rant by me about Fivver and Logo Design, you can watch this video.
Below however you can read some interesting information that will help you become more educated about Logo Design and the time cost and resources associated with getting a professional logo created.

I personally feel that it is a lack of understanding what a Logo Design, a professional Logo Design actually is and what the process behind a real logo involves, that leads people to seek “cheap logo design”. In truth some people honestly believe that a logo is just words and clip art they or someone else could put together in Microsoft Word or Publisher. They have no idea that by making some very common logo design  mistakes they are ruining the image of their brand.

The Logo Design Process and Why It Isn’t Cheap

    Client Inquiry, Meeting (In person, Skype, Phone, Email). Proposal. Design Brief. Contract. Deposit.  1-5 HRS.
    Getting a client to communicate everything you need to determine what their project is, develop a design proposal, brief and contract or having the conversations that constitute that can take anywhere from 1 to 5 hours of a Designer’s time. That is time they are not marketing themselves, running their business, getting new clients, working for existing clients. In short it’s time they are not making money, so they are starting the relationship at an expense. If they are smart their price margins account for this.
    Once you know what the project is there is likely going to be some research involved, especially if you are less familiar with the brand and it’s industry. Just drawing up sketches off of what the client told you is not the smart way to go, you need to understand the market they are competing in and what the customers expectations would be.
    Visual Exploration is an important part of the design process and something that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Too often designers are ready to jump in the computer without having brain storming sessions and working out their most basic ideas on paper first to save time before committing to something only to have to start over.
    Depending on the complexity of the design and the number of variations involved this process can take more or less time. When being done correctly a logo design will be developed in a vector program like Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw. Professionals use industry standard software like this and invested time into learning how to use it properly to produce quality results. Added to this a client may have changes or revisions that add additional time to this.
    Delivering a JPEG is not delivering a finished logo, many clients fail to realize this. There are logo assets they need for print that will be very different files than the ones they need for web. Also they should get some notes on the logo design, the fonts utilized and the colors to match them consistently though their branding. This is something that gets overlooked quite often but shouldn’t. A finished logo design might have 5-10 files associated with it, or it may have 50. It all depends on the overall branding and variants.

Professional Logo Design in an Investment

As you can see logo design is an investment of time for a designer, a considerable amount of time somewhere between 8-40 hours potentially. With that in mind a designer has to charge in such a way that if a client were to back out, terminate the project or be struck by lightning they are not at loss for that time and effort. No practical business person want’s to operate at a loss, but clients often don’t necessarily view designers as business people, they view them as artist being paid for a hobby.

If a designer were to reasonably estimate that a project could take up to 20 hours with a client, even if they valued themselves at $15/hour which is below the standard for even an entry level designer in the United States, they would have  need to price a project at $600 in order to insure a $300 non-refundable deposit once they take on the work, just to be compensated for their time.

This is not even taking into account the argument that one is not paying for time but rather for the value of a result. Which leads to why many people don’t want to invest in professional logo design, they are not invested in what they want the design for.

Money is Commitment

Despite the excuses made, most of the time it is as simple as a client not having that in their budget, or that the business is not something they are prepared to value at that price in order to represent or promote it. Money is commitment. If a client is not putting considerable money or time into advertising a business it is reasonable to question how committed or invested they are in it. Actions speak very clearly.

This is part of the reason for a deposit, both the client and designer have an incentive, they skin the game and something to gain by moving forward. They are invested at this point. Incentive usually means that communication is frequent, details don’t get overlook and quality is a priority in the process. When this is not the case it nearly impossible to guarantee or even expect a worthwhile result.

Excuses Used For Wanting Cheap Logos

  • I don’t think it should cost that much just for a logo! (Irrelevant.)
  • I already drew it you just need to make it digital… (Doesn’t necessarily reduce the work.)
  • It doesn’t have to be anything complicated or fancy. (Irrelevant.)
  • The logo is just type and a graphic! It’s not anything difficult. (Does not reflect knowledge of design.)
  • The logo is only going on my website and business card. (Irrelevant.)

The bottom line is that you get what you pay for. If you have a small budget, you have to set your expectations and goals to align with the amount you have to invest in it. As the old saying goes, No Investment, No Return.

Designers, don’t feel compelled to undervalue yourself just to compete in the global economy, good work trumps everything and you are not losing clients by not charging less, those were not going t be your clients because they were not going to invest in your work, learn from Apple in this regard, if you want to be a premium brand, charge a premium price and people who value what you offer will afford it.

To those looking for a Logo Designer, consider what your goals are and what the experience you want is in working with someone. You can get cheaper prices abroad, but are you willing to deal with the hassle of the language and cultural barrier and being 1 of 100 projects in a chop shop? Is that worth saving money, or do you want to build a relationship with someone who will value your brand almost as much as you do, who has a vested interest in seeing you succeed and offering them more work?

How Much Work Should You Put in Your Design Portfolio?

One of question I constantly hear from designers concerns how much work they should put in their portfolio. In truth there is not a right answer to this, but there are some general rules and guidelines. One of the things I have to rant about is Designers, Teachers and Art Directors who insist you should only put in 10 pieces of work in your portfolio. To be blunt, that is a load of crap.

The Truth About the 10 Piece Rule

The reasoning behind the 10 piece rule is based on the logic that whoever is looking at your portfolio is pressed for time and doesn’t have the patience to go through all you work or that they may get bored if they have to go through too many. They also say you should be able to sell yourself in 10 pieces if the work is good enough.

It took me actually thinking about it while I was in college to realize this was coming from teachers and HR people, not salesman or job seekers or recruiters and certainly not from clients. A good salesperson knows that you “show as many products as it takes to close the sale”.

You’re there to get hired and sell yourself, not save their time.


If someone has set aside a half hour or an hour for you to do an interview, its up t you make the most of that time and to  position yourself for success. You don’t do that by trying to get in and out as quickly as possible. This about giving them the ability to make an informed decision and demonstrate your value. Within reason, use as many pieces as it takes, if the work is impressive they aren’t going to get bored. Do you realize how much time people spend looking at images on Deviant Art, Behance and Tumblr?

Always be respectful of someone’s time, but understand that this is an opportunity and treat it as such, go big or go home.





If you want to work at an advertising agency…

When I was in my interview to work at a New York Ad Agency (where yes I got the job), I fell into the trap of showing a minimal amount of work. I only had 15 pages in my portfolio, mostly commission digital art pieces and typography posters. A lot of my clients were small local companies and I didn’t feel confident showing that work so I didn’t include it, which was smart. The head of the agencies response the volume of work was “your work is good but this portfolio feels a bit thin…”

I think my heart stopped at that moment. The things I did right were I put in only what I personal felt was my best work, and I put in personal work that I was passionate about and really showed off what I was capable of and my unique visual style. I got the job because I presented well, spoke intelligently and had a diversity of skills (web, print, video and copy writing) and I understood salesmanship.

When it was my turn to interview new designers I really got an appreciate for what it was like to be on the other side of the table. So many of them had thin portfolios just like I did, particularly the one’s who went to the top design schools in the country. Freelancers did a bit better and their portfolios made a bit more sense.

Understand Who You Are Pitching To

Understand that an Advertising Agency is there to deliver whatever the client needs, so your portfolio needs diversity. You need to present strong layout and print productions skills, some digital illustration/vector artwork, logo designs, photo retouching and editing and a strong overall sense of design and creativity. You’re going to be working on campaigns that range across every type of media for clients usually across multiple industries. Ask yourself honestly if 10-15 pieces of work is going to tell them that you can handle it?

Portfolios for Clients and Small Businesses

If you are presenting to a client or small business, they are likely going to look at everything you put in front of them because they are spending their own money. They want to make an informed decision and if they are interested they will take the time.

Don’t overwhelm them with a 60 page portfolio, but show them relevant work. If you don’t know what they are going to need from you, then you have to show them a little bit of everything. If they don’t see it in your portfolio they are going to assume you can’t do it.

Businesses today usually need branding kits, print marketing collateral, online banner ads, websites, social media and landing pages for their online ads. You need to show them a variety of quality work. If you’re going to work as an In-House Designer at a company, it is possible you will be interviewed by an HR Manager who won’t want to look at everything in your portfolio, but that isn’t an excuse to make it thin. Section your portfolio if you are applying for a job as an In-Designer so that they can understand you are capable of doing whatever they need and show at least a few solid pieces from each section.

Why it’s important to show off some of your personal work.

If you’re a new designer or a student you may not have a lot of client work in your portfolio. I’d rather see your personal work than a lot of student work i your portfolio. Student work stands out and its obvious in a portfolio and is very readily dismissed. Part of the reason for it is that it doesn’t reflect the conditions of the real world. So why is personal work any better? Because personal work will have your approach and style without the guidance of someone else directly influencing the process. This tells us a lot more about you, and reveals your style and decision making. You’re also going to care about this work more and show your personality when you speak about it.

Many designers overlook how important personal style and personality are to the person hiring them, those things are going to be a big part of how well you can work with someone each and everyday.

Dark Valkyrie Diana Photoshop Digital Art by Roberto Blake

Dark Valkyrie Diana Photoshop Digital Art by Roberto Blake

Final Thoughts on Portfolios

Show the work you want to get and show the work that is going to sell you as the solution these people need. Don’t be afraid to take some chances and risk, nothing ventured nothing gained. Show your best work and be prepared to talk about it and make sure that if something is in your portfolio there is a reason beyond “I really like this piece”. Make sure each pieces is demonstrating your value, your style or how you solve a problem.

The Logo Design Process in Graphic Design

Logo Design is serious business because we are talking about your “name”, and when it comes to your company or your career, you’re only as good as your name. That’s why professional logo design is so very important. Your logo is the foundation of your overall branding scheme and will be central to what you communicate in your first impression to clients and customers; in essence “you are your logo”.

If you’d like you can watch my video below where I cover this fairly quickly, or you can continue on to the article below.

The Logo Design Process in Graphic Design Video

This is an understanding that is all too often overlooked by logo designers who only focus on the visual while ignoring what a good logo design should accomplish in terms of communication. As a rule of course it remains my objective as a Logo Designer to produce logo’s that are: scalable, memorable, unique, and convey the clients’ individual personality or character.

A Logo Designer, should set out to establish immediate recognition, inspiring trust, admiration, loyalty and an implied superiority through a client’s logo. These are the very things one needs to promote themselves or their brand.

Traditionally logo designs are usually done using Adobe Illustrator, using well developed fonts. Any fonts used in the development of a logo design are provided to the client to ensure their ability to reproduce or modify the logo.

My Logo Design Process

The Logo Design Brief: Any logo design developed for a client should begin with a Logo Design Brief, a simple questionnaire that outlines the details, specifics, and goals of the project and players involved.

Researching the Logo Design: I don’t believe in flying blind, any design project I take on involves specific research on the company, industry and the client, so that they I can accurately convey and reflect their strengths and personality.

Brainstorming and Logo Design Sketching: In this age far too often logo designers go straight for their computer. I believe in taking the traditional approach to conceptualizing ideas, and even making the client part of the process. As a client you can ask me for my sketch work if you want to see my development process.

Building the Logo Design: As a Professional Logo Designer, I develop logos in vector format using Adobe Illustrator. This means that logos should be scalable and can be resized in EPS and AI format with distortion or a loss of quality when used properly. Logo designs should always initially be produced in vector format.

The Logo Design Presentation: This is the point where you are presented with the finished logo design and may request revisions or approve the design in its current incarnation, at which point we celebrate its creation.

Need a Logo Designer?

You can use the contact form below to commission me as your logo designer, I’d be happy to work with you!

Unleashing Cosplay Video

Unleashing Cosplay Video

As many of you know I am a huge fan of Cosplay and attend many events as a Cosplay Photographer. This year at Animazment 2014 I decided to try my hand at producing a music video showcasing different Cosplayers as part of a project I’m developing with my friends over at Anime Arsenal called: Unleashing Cosplay. At the moment the project which I will discuss in another post, consist primarily of producing videos and photography of Cosplayers, but will extend to much more later.

The footage in this video was shot on my Nikon D3200, and in most cases a monopod. The editing was done in Adobe Premiere Pro and was a lot of fun to work on, particularly sequencing and timing. Everything was shot at 720p at 60FPS with a 35mm Prime Nikkor lens. Over 100 cosplayers contributed their time to this video and I would have loved to feature even more. Everyone was great about participating and the video has been very warmly received.

I will be attending a few different conventions photographing and videoing cosplayers this year. I usually do Cosplay Photography at Dragon Con, Katsucon and Animazment, but I will likely be attending HeroCon and Hoshicon this year as well. There also is a minor possibility of me attending New York Comicon but we will see.

I love shooting video like this due to the challenges it presents and the opportunity to get a variety of different looks and shots. The costumes in many cases are very elaborate and many of them are even film production quality.

I want to thank everyone who helped in the making of the Unleashing Cosplay video for Animazement and I look forward to seeing all of you at future conventions!

Video Details:
Title: Animazement 2014 Unleashing Cosplay
Video Directed and Produced by Roberto Blake
Event: Animazement 17  at Raleigh Convention Center
Song: Angels Among Demons by Instrumental Core

Why Logo Designers Use Adobe Illustrator

Professional Logo Designers usually use Adobe Illustrator when working on Logo Design projects for many reasons.

If you are trying to become a logo designer or improve your logo design skills this video has some useful information for you. If you are on the fence about using Adobe Illustrator in your Logo Design work flow, then this video will help you determine if it is the right fit for you as a Logo Designer and explain why most Professional Logo Designers prefer using Adobe Illustrator in their Logo Design projects.

Why Professional Logo Designers Typically Use Adobe Illustrator

Vector Illustration is Essential to Logo Design

Aside from the intuitive tools in the Adobe Illustrator interface, Adobe Illustrator integrates well into an overall design work flow, due to its superior compatibility with programs like Adobe Photoshop, After Effects, Premiere Pro and InDesign. This means that if you want to create a 3D Logo you can literally copy and paste it as a smart object into Photoshop from Adobe Illustrator. You can also import an Adobe Illustrator file directly into Adobe After Effects and make an animated Motion Graphics Logo sequence.

Adobe Illustrator also has the ability to export to multiple vector formats such as EPS and SVG. Vector is important because it is scalable, which means that it will not lose quality when it is enlarged.

Adobe Illustrator Has Unique Tools and Capabilities

Unique features like the Touch Type Tool, the ability to do 3D Typography Directly in Illustrator and the Pathfinder and Shape Builder tools make Illustrator ideal for building complex Logos and Illustrations. The Freehand Pen tool also means if you have traditional illustration skills you can take advantage of this and produce some truly unique and amazing work.

Some Final Thoughts on Adobe Illustrator and Logo Design

There are many tools you can use as well several approaches to Logo Design, but you should always try to make your designs as polished and professional as you can and also consider they way in which they are presented to clients. When presenting Logo Designs it is good to present the thumbnail sketches that were used in their development, as well as present how they may look on a business card and or letter head. Illustrator is a great tool for logo design as it is vector based, scalable, gives access to the various Pantone Color Libraries, and works well with other Adobe applications.