research design laboratory

Sketching Plum Trees

We've been working on a logo, which has required I sketch trees. Plum trees and cherry blossoms. Trees of life, healthy trees. While we're in the midst of creating this logo, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on and share with you the various steps involved.

Of course the 'process' begins the moments a client says they think they might need a logo. BOOM. Immediately the mind rolladexes through every known reference, each connotation, sorting clichés from perfect, simple, ideas. OK, so sometimes it's not that immediate. Sometimes it requires flipping through books, taking a walk, looking around, cooking, sleeping, and so on. So I can't say for sure where the process begins, or if and when it is on 'pause'... or if it ever really ends.

Anyway. I started the design process for this logo by walking around. I was in Oregon at the time, so I could think of no better place to think like a tree. I took photos of trees -- any kind -- from different angles, to get a feel of branches, flower or fruit, and leaves. After that, I Google-searched images. Trees come in all kinds so we had to narrow down our pool to trees that were especially relevant. West Coast trees. Trees of life. Happy trees. Based on these two kinds of images -- photos I'd taken for angles and points of view and photos used for research -- I could start bringing pencil to paper. I sketched trees -- close up and in full -- borrowing elements from various photos that had components I needed to create this iconic logo. Once I had a something drafted, I took a photo with my iPod Touch, uploaded it using Dropbox, retrieved it on my laptop, dragged it into Illustrator, and traced it, to transform the sketch into a resolution-less vector-based image. And there it was, a curved prune tree, leaning in the wind, flexible and flowing.