Sunday, February 27, 2011

Toole's Garage

The entire point of this blog is simply to give me a space to reflect on my process as a designer, and give people a better understanding of how the process works.

When I was in school as a design major, our professors had us create something called a "process book" for almost every project. At the time, it just seemed like one more thing we had to check off our lists in order to get a good grade. But since I've been a professional designer and have been working in the field on so many different kinds of projects, I now realize how valuable this tool really is and how it has helped me grow creatively. This blog is my online, public, digital process book.

In any creative process, I think it is important to look back on the work you've done, and try to see it objectively. It is so gratifying and fulfilling to reflect on a piece of work after it is complete, judge it for what it is, and still really like it!

I can honestly say that the new logo design I just finished a few months ago for Toole's Garage is one of my favorite projects I've had the pleasure of working on. Dave Toole, the owner of Toole's Garage, came to me in November (ish) of last year and asked me to work with him on a new logo for his San Carlos auto shop.

After taking over the company formerly known as Meehleib Auto a few years back, Dave decided it was time to re-name and re-vamp his business. From the get-go, he told me that he wanted a design that would look professional, competent, trustworthy, classic, and efficient and that would also create recognition for his company within the community. Basically, he wanted the long-time clients of Meehleib auto to respect and continue using his services, AND he wanted his future Honda, Acura and Infiniti customers to find his company online, in phonebooks, in newspapers and ads and think "I've finally found you!"

No pressure.

Dave and I had several long conversations and corresponded over email a ton before I even started on the design. As usual, I kicked off the process by spending countless hours researching auto industry logos and scouring the internet for designs that encompassed the look and feel of what he was after. At this stage, Dave mentioned that he loves to work on old classic trucks, and often has these vintage vehicles in his shop. He told me in an email, "I am starting to imagine my 56 Chevy Pickup (completed for dream purposes) with a sweet logo right on the doors as the truck rumbles down the road catching everyone’s eyes…and ears, while I am inside with my cool baseball cap logo’d up.  AHHHH, yeah, can’t wait!" I got from him that his hobby was not only a critical detail about the character of his company, but was also a huge part of his own identity- and should definitely be reflected in his logo-to-be.

After thoroughly talking through his vision with him, and getting a solid feel for what kind of business owner he was, I started comps for the design. Dave was really involved in the entire process. He thought he was micro-managing or being too picky or being too much of a "Libra". But it was so great to have his detailed input every step of the way. I kept laughing about the fact that he corrected me on my incorrect use of wrenches in the logo concepts. He told me "We do like the wrenches incorporated, but in my field…the use of the “adjustable” wrench is for rookies or backyard mechanics." Good to know.

I love being a designer because every project is so different and I am constantly learning. Never in a million years did I think that I would have a justifiable reason to know the visual nuances between an amateur wrench and a professional one. But now that I am well-versed in wrenchology, I feel that I could confidently hold my own in a conversation about wrenches, should one every come up.

We did about 4-5 rounds of comps before we finally narrowed it down to THE logo. A portion of the narrowing process is shown below.

Dave had said that he really wanted a chrome look to the logo, similar to that of the Pixar movie, Cars. Honestly, I didn't actually know much about how to create these kinds of effects on text. But, I was excited to take on the challenge because a) I wanted Toole's Garage to have a fantastic logo and was willing to step out of my comfort zone in order to do so, and b) I knew I'd learn a new skill that I could use in future projects. I got online and did probably about a dozen tutorials- picking and choosing the different steps I liked from each and applying them to Dave's new logo until I got an effect that looks pretty chromey. 

The above design is the final logo that has quickly become the new identity of Toole's Garage in just a few short months. It has an anatomically correct wrench in it, has that classic car feel and looks as shiny as the metal on the hood of Dave's 56 Chevy pickup.

A few days ago, Dave posted photos of the shirts he just had made with the new logo on them. It's so exciting to see Toole's Garage new logo in action and my hard work helping such a great business in such a positive, fun way.

Thanks so much for reading, and thanks to Dave Toole and Toole's Garage. Congrats on your new logo! | Toole's Garage on Facebook