This logo is for my imaginary business of teaching piano improvisation. The black keys rising from the piano symbolize an escape from conventional piano playing. The flashy lettering is meant to differentiate my piano school from other, more conservative schools.
During my brainstorming, I read step-by-step guides for designing logos, and I looked at lots of existing logos for piano-based businesses. I wanted a solid understanding of how a logo could catch a pianist’s attention and communicate a business’s unique purpose. I have links below for the websites I mainly checked out.
- http://www.creativebloq.com/logo-design/get-started-7112864 (A guide for logo creation)
- http://naldzgraphics.net/inspirations/piano-logo-inspirations/ (A collection of logos for piano-based businesses)
- http://hallpiano.com/services/piano-lessons/ (This company’s logo was my chief inspiration)
Looking at piano business logos, I noticed that every single one of them incorporated a piano image in some way. Because of that, I figured mine should too. That’s why my beginning step was to draw a keyboard at the bottom of my rough draft, just like in the logo from the third link above.
For my next step, designing the upper text, I actually avoided using any direct inspiration. I wanted the text to appear unconventional compared to the other logos’ serious fonts. This is how I got the idea to make my letters emerge from the piano. This way, the text looks uniquely eccentric, and the whole logo looks seamlessly connected.
Though the upper text looks a bit wild now, I originally wanted it even wilder. My plan was for the letters to vary dramatically in size. However, I changed my mind after reading about balance in design. Making the letters roughly the same size helped me ensure each end of the picture was balanced.
When drawing my design in Illustrator, the Rectangle Tool was my best friend. My first use of it was for making the keyboard. I then resized some of the black rectangles to make the rough shapes of the rising letters. I put in some more black rectangles to complete the A and E’s.
For completing the R and P, I used black circles, though I made them half-circles using the Shape Builder Tool to delete their left sides.
I made the F and R more interesting by stretching portions of them. To do that, I added additional anchor points near the tops of those letters. I then stretched the new points leftward.
After doing all that, I had a rough draft for my logo. At this point, the design looked a bit different than it does now. The upper text read “FREEPIANO” instead of “FREEPLAY,” and the lower text didn’t exist yet.
The peer feedback I received for this draft was really positive, but it included a few critiques. Among the critiques were suggestions for pretty big changes, like adding color and lining the letters up with the piano keys. I was confident in my design though, so I eventually decided against most of those suggestions. However, I agreed wholeheartedly with one thing a peer reviewer pointed out. This reviewer recommended I add text below the keyboard that could help describe my business.
My instructor similarly recommended adding lower text in her feedback. She also suggested I change my business’s name, since it sounded like “free piano lessons.”
Thus, for my final draft, I revised the upper text and added the lower text. I considered using the Text tool for writing “PIANO IMPROV LESSONS,” but I felt any of Illustrator’s fonts would contrast too much with the upper text. That’s why I drew the lower text using rectangles and ellipses. This way, both rows of text complement each other.
Throughout my entire design process, my biggest challenge by far was smoothing out the F’s top edge. It seemed that no matter what I tried – moving objects, using the Eraser tool, deleting sections with the Shape Builder Tool – making that edge become even was impossible. Eventually, I got the edge close to smooth by lowering the F’s stroke weight. If you look at that edge closely, however, you can see it is still not perfect.
My advice to other people starting with Illustrator is to use “Expand appearance” a lot. Not only does it fix scaling, but it also makes it much easier to work with rotated objects. Personally, since I didn’t expand my rotated objects in the beginning, lining them up with each other was difficult. But before you use “Expand appearance” on something, just make sure its shape is exactly how you want it.