Deconstructing the logo

John Simmons caught up with designer David Carroll, who created an appropriately flexible logo for Wordstock Deconstructed. David shared the inspiration behind the logo, and his thoughts on working with writers.

This year we have a new approach to our signature event(s) in the form of Wordstock Deconstructed. Our aim is to provide all the elements of Wordstock – talks, workshops, interesting ideas – in a wider range of places and spread over a longer period of time rather than crammed into one venue on one day. In that way we wanted to appeal to more of our members and offer more opportunities for members to participate in 26 activities.

So we needed a new logo to reflect this. We asked David Carroll, a designer who knows 26 and many of its members well. David produced a logo that has wowed us with its visual appeal, its flexibility and its sheer rightness for the brief. So we asked David all about it….

“It starts with the brief. In this case it was simply a conversation, and I always sketch while listening. I was really interested in the deconstruction part, how to break up a word like ‘Wordstock’. I remembered those graphic exercises that show you can read between the first and last letters, even when the letters are jumbled up. That idea seemed right, and it reflected the diversity of objects, talks and people that the brief talked about.”

“A logo that was not fixed seemed right for this particular need. I played around with different typefaces, but decided that one typeface with varied spacing and many colour permutations would give the right mix between recognisability and flexibility. In the end I produced ten versions for use, but there could be thousands of permutations – as well as the animated one. It’s a family of logos rather than a single logo – very much my design philosophy that identities for digital use have to be adaptable not rigid.”

What can we learn from this as writers? How does David work with writers, and does he see this writer/designer combination as a natural one?

“I’ve been lucky in my career opportunities. First working in Poland for McCann on advertising, then in London for Faber & Faber on books and all the materials associated with them, then at Newell and Sorrell and Interbrand as global brand agencies. This all gave me the experience to set up my own business and I now work with a wide range of clients. With all of them I care about the words – the content and the look of the words. It was very much part of my training that ‘lorem ipsum’ was not good enough. When I present work it’s always with read headlines, words that have meaning.”

“So I’ve worked with many writers and enjoy the combination. Writers bring a clarity of thinking that lays a good foundation through the words they create. Design can follow on, with the words making it all easier and clearer.”

“Designers and writers should work together more – there’s no benefit in being precious. I always remember the story told by Ron Costley who taught me about typography at Faber. When designing books for Ted Hughes, there was always a conversation with the author about the look of the words on the page. Ted Hughes was even prepared to adjust the words in his poetry to make them look better. So designers and writers can work together to refine work so that it looks right and conveys the right meaning.”

To see more of David Carroll’s work go to www.davidcarrollandco.com

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