This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

August 29, 2014

Avoiding obscenity in logo design

When I first started teaching logo design, at the Art Institute of Phoenix, I was surprised at how often there was accidental obscenity.

If you've never taken a class in logo design, it goes like this: The students rough out, on paper, several designs, which are then taped up to the wall. The entire class sits back and the best designs are chosen. And when you see it..!

The human eye wants to see things that it's familiar with. And logo design often includes shapes that are filled in by the brain (that's called negative space), and combinations that aren't obvious at first glance. So, while none of my students were intentionally designing a logo that was obscene, there were often quite a few that were accidentally obscene.

Now, I'm not talking about a stretch of the imagination. We all know someone who sees obscenity everywhere, and usually use the phrase *that's what she said* to make any statement obscene. But, really, there are certain shapes that just kind of jump out at you. No, I'm not going to say anything here. If you're human, you can imagine as well as anyone.

Doing artwork is a solitary activity. And so, sharing your artwork, such as a logo design, with other eyes can be fraught with embarrassment. But it's better to show your work to a group, and be embarrassed briefly, than put it on a web page, or print it on a document. And while there were many things that I was trying to share in class, this was a lesson that I taught accidentally. When we all saw it, I walked over to wall and took the obscene drawing down. No comment. Accidents happen.

By the way, that's my company logo up there, for Brad Hall Art, which I designed while I was a student at ASU. The negative space allows you to see the B, and the A. I've never had a problem with it, except for the people who saw an *equal sign* occasionally, instead of the B. If they had seen something obscene, I would have changed it right away!

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