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I’m Jacob Cass, the founder of JUST™ Creative. I’m a multi-disciplinary graphic designer, working with clients all around the world. My specialty is logo & brand identity design. JUST™ Get in touch.

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Fake Logo Designs

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Fake Logo Design

It is my guess that about 60 to 70% of the logo designs posted in logo design gallery websites (such as Logo Pond) are actually fake (I use the term ‘fake’ for lack of a better word).

This means there is no real client, no real design brief nor any client feedback to effect the design… so does this make one a professional logo designer?

In this article I want to raise some questions and thoughts on this issue of fictitious logo design as I know this topic is a very subjective one and one that is not very often talked about so I am looking forward to your replies.

Update 7th June:

The topic of fake logo designs was brought up again 5 months after posting this article.

Questions To Consider

  • Are you still a professional logo designer if you produce fictional logo designs?
  • If a real client decides to hire you, will they get a logo as creative / successful as your other fictitious logos?
  • How can a client know if your logo designs are real or not?
  • How does one choose a logo designer?
  • What are the benefits & disadvantages of creating fictional logo designs?

Thoughts On Fake Logo Designs

This article comes after reading a forum thread started by Raja on Logo Pond.

Raja starts off the discussion by saying:

“I am curious on the communities thoughts on these logos being posted [on Logo Pond]. I am neither for or against it, it’s not my website, but I wonder what others think. It’s almost as though these ‘identities’ are being drawn up as more of a whim than a well thought out solution to a real business’s requirements. Sure, it’s fun and very easy to create a cool image and think of a catchy name that ‘goes’ with it and post it here for view, but does that ‘water down’ the quality of work here? And also eliminate the entire challenge of creating a logo in the first place, like meeting the business objective of a real client. Is it random abstract art or Logo Design?”

In the forum discussion there were some mixed opinions… David Airey had this to say:

“As designers, our role is to solve a ‘problem’. Included within this problem is the task of educating clients why our designs are effective.

If it’s necessary to start our careers with the use of fictitious logos, so be it, but after a certain number of live projects have been completed, I believe it dilutes a portfolio to keep the fictitious ones included.”

Personally, I couldn’t agree more about the fact as our role as designers is to solve a ‘problem’. This is one of the main reasons why I think fake logo designs are, like Raja suggested… more like abstract pieces of art (in some respect). There is little (or less) challenge when creating a fictitious logo because there is no real design brief, no real client and no real feedback. But as David said, if you have to, so be it.

But in saying that, sites like Logo Pond are there for inspiration among other things… they can be used for a place to discuss logo design, have fun, get critique and improve ones portfolio.

Other opinions

Lucidity

“I do a lot of work just to satisfy myself. I kind of view it as art, and I do a lot of it just for fun, or for t-shirts I want to get printed down the road.”

Logoholic

“Of course, made up brands can never stand next to real projects with real clients and real tasks in terms of the final result and recognition that one designer receives, but, at the end, a good logo is a good logo.”

Mark from FillSlashStroke showed his strong opinions on fake logo designs in his article One Man’s Trash is Another Mans… Trash due to the fact that fake logo designs end up on sites such as IncSpring.

IncSpring is a site that lets you sell unused concepts, contest entries or “new ideas” to interested parties. It is basically a garbage heap, recycling center of ideas that clients didn’t want, or the designer couldn’t pull off. It is a grab bag of unwanted, thoughtless brands.”

But most of all I liked the analogy from Fogra.

“A logo without a client is an illustration with a tie on…”

Another question to ask is… if a real client hires you, will they get a logo as creative / successful as your other fictitious logos?

This is a question a client should consider before hiring a logo designer and a hard one to determine, so this brings me onto the next question…

How do you choose a logo designer?

I will be covering this question in an article next week or in the new year so ensure you are subscribed so you do not miss out. In the the mean time here is what you should base your decision on in short:

  • Strength of Portfolio
  • Experience & Proven Success
  • Testimonials
  • Their Design Process
  • Time Frame Completed
  • Price
  • The Questions Asked
  • Professionalism
  • Communication

What Is Your Opinion?

So what are your opinions on fictitious logo designs?   Consider these thoughts when replying:

  • Are you still a professional logo designer if you produce fictional logo designs?
  • If a real client hires you, will they get a logo as creative / successful as your other fictitious logos?
  • How can a client know if your logo designs are real or not? Should you tell them?
  • What are the benefits & disadvantages of creating fictional logo designs?

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59 JUST™ Creative Comments

  • K. Reply

    I think it depends on what you create the logo for. If a designer feels he needs to fluff his portfolio and goes on a week long logo binge to add content, I would vote not good. However, if he gets a clever idea and decides to make at it while its fresh on his/her mind, that’s being real.

  • Joann Sondy Reply

    You’ve really opened up a can of worms with this question.

    Since we’re speculating that some of the logos on these sites maybe fake… what does it really matter?

    If a fine artist works through the winter months on new paintings to show during the summer months, does that imply that the work is not valid?

    Or, would you consider the samples in a graduate’s portfolio invalid because the project was hypothetical?

    I think the real issue should be honesty in presenting samples from client projects or not.

  • Corey Freeman Reply

    I dunno that I would put up fake projects, but to fill out my portfolio I do post up my personal projects.

    I think working on things that enhance your design skills is a great benefit, until you generate enough real projects to fill out your portfolio.

  • oak Reply

    this article made me think of the movie BASEketball in which someone (presumably) had to go through and design sports identities for seven or eight fictitious franchises from a sport that doesn’t exist. In this case the studio hired someone to create these logos, but it seems to me that they would still count as “fake” as defined in your article. I’m having a hard time concluding that the only difference between a “real” and a “fake” logo is a paying customer.

  • Brad C Reply

    That’s a great question, and it has far reaching implications.

    You could expand it past logos, like many of the sites featured in CSS galleries are personal sites. Sites that also don’t receive client feedback.

    Also, I will often post client work that is my favorite version of a design, not necessarily the final version of a design. I might have to rethink that or at least ad some explanation.

  • Joe Akers Reply

    Folks like Von Glitschka don’t really post a lot of conceptual logo work, choosing instead to keep those ideas in a “Treasure Trove” file, so to speak. He then has a wealth of components to help solving future design challenges.
      That being said, I think there’s merit if the designer sets out to create a fictitional design brief for his concept and goes through the motions as if it were a real client. The resulting product would be more appropriate for a blog than portfolio, but still… There’s never anything wrong with a little “mental exercise.”
      I, like numerous other designers, have mixed feelings about sites like crowdspring, Elance, etc. which can really dilute the value of good design.  Selling cast-offs and unused ideas for discount prices can lead to an expectation from potential clients that they can get a “lobster dinner on a hot dog budget.” Still, this is a touchy area because I’m all for finding channels for passive income.
      I think ultimately though, sites like Logopond are great sources of inspiration for designers especially when the site itself is set up as a reference anyway. And for that reason, there’s a place for conceptual work. But, a designer’s professional portfolio should be a place for work that can actually be put into context showing a potential client you have a clear understanding of a design brief and can put the work to use. For the new year, our entire site is being revamped to include only work that is relevant to the services we offer.  We are creating a blog to discuss conceptual work, etc. I think it’ll serve us well and remain true both to creativity and good design.

  • Kode Reply

    I had a great teacher in college and he would challenge me to create effective brands for fictional companies that needed an identity!
    Some times I would spend weeks working on a project, reviewing the brief, getting feedback from my professor and so on.
    Though there was no real client, the challenge of problem solving was present and the process was as involved as in a real project.
    When I started my career, working for “Brillante Design Agency” in Portland Oregon, the transition was seamless.

    My point is: Fictional work can really help you hone your skills when done right, but you have to understand that, the more realistic the project is, the more likely you are to become proficient in business problem solving!
    Also, remember that there’s a lot more to designing a “Successful” logo, than arranging a cool graphic with a nice typeface on a clean canvas.

    Let’s face it, we can all think of a catchy name, fire up illustrator to create a clever graphic to go with it, upload it to logopond and add a “For Practice” description to it.

    Please note that I have nothing against logopond, to the contrary, I love it and I use it often for feedback on projects I may be working on, in other words “I use logopond as a tool” rather than a place to host my portfolio!

    Students are often times required to do fictional work to build their portfolio and there is nothing wrong with that, but you have to educate yourself in other areas many times ignored when you first start out. e.g(communication skills, time management, budget planning, research proficiency).

    In closing:
    “FICTIONAL WORK IS LIKE MASTURBATION”, it can be a journey of self discovery and you will find pleasure along the way, but it will never be the real thing without a partner!

    Please forgive me if you find my closing comment offensive!

    -Kode

  • Jared Reply

    I am a web developer similar in some aspects. I create fictional websites to prove my ability. Sure I don’t get paid for them but that doesn’t take away the fact that I put everything into them. I believe it proves that I watch the following trends and can prove to the clients that I can provide an acceptible solition

  • George - LogoDesign.org Reply

    Interesting post. This is actually something I had talked about in a post I made last week about one of the logos posted on IncSpring. There was some interesting discussion in the comments from the owner of IncSpring and one of the designers from the site, here’s the link in case you’re interested: Office Strategies Logo Discussion

    Happy Holidays!

  • Prescott Perez-Fox Reply

    Well Jake, it begs the question, are all the logos in your portfolio “real” client projects? When I first saw your work I remarked to myself simply how many logos you had done — very prolific for a student.

    Like everyone else is saying, this is part of a much larger debate. On the one hand, you did create the work, but on the other hand, the process wasn’t entirely the same as for client work. So are we misrepresenting ourselves?

    And some would make the same argument for student work. Should be include logos (or anything else) done for assigned school projects? There’s not exactly the same client feedback loop as in a live brief.

  • Michael Reply

    As Kode pointed out, if all of the steps are done the same way was for a ‘real’ company, the logos are just as valid. And it makes for great exercise.

    If you’re going to do a fictional logo, do up a complete fictional company the logo is for. What does the business do? Who is its target audience? Do up a design brief, work through it as you would for a real client. Have a friend play the part of the client.

    Doing this will not only hone your skills, but it will allow you to step outside the box and try new ideas without the fear of possibly losing the client.

    That said, if you are going to submit a fictional logo to a site like Logo Pond, in the interest of integrity, somehow make it known that the company is fictional.

  • Kevin Reply

    This post brings up interesting questions – to take it a bit further, are website template designers professional web designers if all they do is sell templates and never any specific client work?

  • David Reply

    The whole thing about “solving problems” hits the nail on the head for me. If a designer is solving the problem of communicating to you that a company is selling cola drinks that you should really try, it doesn’t matter if it’s Coca Cola or Joke-a-Cola. Besides, how many ‘real’ businesses are going to trust you with their corporate ID if you have nothing to show for yourself? We’re all students of visual communication, and anything that helps us better understand that is ultimately good for Design.

  • Von Glitschka Reply

    I think the question in general is somewhat faulty. You use the term “Fake” but design is design regardless if it was done for a paying client or done as an experiment.

    A designer markets their potential. When a client views your work they they judge you by what you’ve done for the most part visually. No one has ever asked me “Can I see the resulting sales figures for the company you designed that logo for?” In other words they don’t care about that all they care about is the visual appeal and if it aligns with what they are after for their project. You only get the type of work you show and if I held to this “Fake” modus operandi it would limit the type of work I get, because it would mean I can only show what I am hired to do. That is nuts.

    So are all of my logo designs I’ve done for paid clients? No. Are all the logo designs I’ve done reflect a real assignment? No. Most are but I’ve seeded my portfolio with a few so-called “Fakes” because it demonstrates my capabilities, diverse styles and ultimately my creative potential.

    I show new styles to garner new type of work. Five years ago I decided to create a tribal face styled logo mark not because I was hired to do it but I wanted to offer that potential to my clients. You can’t wait and hope a client will know you can do something until you show them you can. Hell, even creative directors many times can’t see potential so you have to show them the potential.

    The so-called “Fake” tribal face logo mark has led to thousands of dollars in real paying gigs because I chose to market my potential and not limit it to only those projects I’ve actually managed to secure. If I held to the rigid “No Fakes” rule I would have lost out on a ton of work because no one would have associated me with that potential. Because you get the work you show period.

    That said, the majority of a designers work needs to be real, having a few images to showcase potential without having them be real is an OK exception but should never be the rule. Think of it this way, when most students start looking for work they have a portfolio of fakes. They are judged by that fact they are judged by how well the design is executed and carried out. In other words they are being judged by their potential.

    So should a designer show logo work that was never used? Some may say “No. It should only be the final art the client picked.” but that limits your potential to the personal taste of your clients and why would you do that?

    As it stands right now I don’t use any fake logos. Ironically it’s because my fake logos have done their job and secured me real clients wanting the design potential I initially used them to market. Mission accomplished.

    I do however continue to show “unused” logo work because clients can be wankers at times and good design shouldn’t suffer. Here is one such case: http://snipurl.com/nofake

    I’m sure some one will disagree with me? Wouldn’t be a blog if they didn’t.

    Von

  • Brad Reply

    I started my company 9 months ago under a non-compete agreement, so my entire relevant portfolio is locked down. I asked myself these same questions when starting out as to how I can go get the clients I know I can do great work for, but without anything to show. It’s tough. This is why my website still doesn’t have a portfolio up, because I’m just not happy with the work we’ve done so far representing us well, but I refuse to put up a bunch of fake stuff to try to sell someone. If they’re easily grabbed by flashy things instead of us talking over how we can solve their problems, then it’s most likely a client we shouldn’t take on, even if it means financial hardship right now. I’ve yet to have a client that in the end wasn’t thrilled with what we’ve done, but it takes a big step of faith from them to hire us right now. We’re just blessed to be where we are thus far.

    Our industry is suffering because everyone is cutting corners to get ahead and doing stuff like this and we’re only hurting ourselves. Things like ELance, 99Designs, LogoWorks, and South Asian “design centers” are killing the integrity of design.

  • Zach LeBar Reply

    Very interesting article.

    As a student right now, this is EXTREMELY applicable to me. I’m in fact working on several “fake” client logo designs right now. The thing that I’m doing, and that I see is important to do, is to make a brief, create a client, explain target demographics, etc. It’s kind of funny, when i started trying to come up with a design, I felt I needed a brief to make good work. I guess from all the posts I’ve read about the design process of a logo has ingrained in me the need for that client-like interaction and catalyst

    Too, this is really the only way for me right now to create work that is suitable for a portfolio, as the only people I’ve worked for are friends and family. Once those projects are complete, then they too will be in the portfolio, but they’re few and far between.

    As far as notifying people that these logos are “fictitious”, I’m not sure if I would naturally, but after reading this, I think I will put a little notice on my website below the respective design whether the client was real or not.

    Thanks for starting the discussion Jacob.

    -Zach LeBar

  • Nikki - Logo Design Guru Reply

    I don’t at all think that it is a bad thing to create logos for yourself to boost your portfolio. How are you supposed to get clients unless you have work to show them? you need to start somewhere. Also, the word “professional” narrowed down basically means that you make money doing it as a profession, so until you gain clients, you are not a professional, however if you make money but do your own work, of course you are a professional.

  • Mitch Reply

    Great Question…

    Fake Logos = bad news…

    Professional logo design = real client, real (sometimes stupid) feedback and as Jacob mentioned, educating the client.

    The client makes up half the equation, like it or not its not our logo. We may love the logo because we designed it but we share the logo with the client. As customers the logo is theirs, thats a professional logo designer. Anything outside of this does not belong in a professional portfolio because after you do a few big logo designs you will see that the client feedback, client education and emotion start to dramatically effect the finished concept

    IF YOU ARE A STUDENT!
    Then your lecturer/tutor should be the client.

    In My Opinion

  • Glen Reply

    There are plenty of great logo designs out there at places like LogoPond etc. But what makes a great logo brilliant is whether or not it provides the best solution to a problem – rather than providing a solution and then reverse-engineering the problem.

    Is it wrong to create logos for ficticious organisations? Of course not! Is it wrong to mislead others by ‘cheating’ the design process? Well any form of deception can’t be good. Be honest with your client, justify your designs and your process and at the end of the day you’ll both be better off.

    Personally I create ficticious designs in my spare time to hone my skills, which means that when it comes to designing for clients I can provide the best service I can. However, these are personal work and rarely make it any further than my sketchbook or “Junk” folder.

    Great post Jacob, keep up the good work!

  • Jayesh Reply

    Interesting article Jacob, Great post as always…

    I think a good logo design is the output of good requirement. Depends on the quality of requirement we have to look at the competitive logos(including fake logos) then we have to do the research. I mean, if the designer is ready to do the research and methodologies in professional and creative way, then the final logo won’t be fall in the “Fake Logos” division.

  • Dead.Pixel Reply

    This is kind of a slippery-slope of an ‘issue’ if it can be called such. Clients want to see work before they hire you but without the clients you have no work, so you need a jumping point. On the other hand it is not efficient practice as there is no feedback or a normal development process.

    But if you think of it as a sport, fake logos are like practices. You aren’t playing the game…but you are at the same time. The other team (client) isn’t there so you can run through the plays but not have to fully account for the unpredictability of the opponent. If this is enough to get drafted…why not to get hired.

    All in all I think that they are useful for beginners almost to the point of necessity. But I think that they need to be marked ‘fictitious’ as to not mislead the client. And as David Airey said “after a certain number of live projects have been completed, I believe it dilutes a portfolio to keep the fictitious ones included.”

    Though I don’t believe that a portfolio should be saturated with them. Just a very select handful. And they definitely do not make a person a professional…but serve as a tool to become one.

  • Jonny Reply

    It would be in my opinion that depending on the circumstances surrounding the design, it could be considered logo design/abstract art. I feel that if a designer were to come up with a fictitious company to design the fictitious logo for then it would be more of a logo design. As a designer who designs with a purpose, could actually implement a design process. Rather than someone who just came up with a logo without doing any background research and having no purpose other than something that looks flashy and require no such process.

  • Ryan Reply

    Only ok if it states its a fake logo. Not cool to say you created this logo for this company. People will hire you because they like your work so use those “fake” logos to enhance your portfolio.

  • Rob Reply

    I’d rather hire a student with loads of well-executed “fake” projects in his portfolio than one with poorly-executed “real” projects. Not to mention the fact that these “fake” projects often prove valuable a few miles down the road.

  • Jacob Cass Reply

    Joann,
    Fine art and logo design are two totally different areas of design so it is probably not the best way to compare this topic of fake logo design… however I wanted to clarify something in regards to your question:

    Would you consider the samples in a graduate’s portfolio invalid because the project was hypothetical?

    This topic of fake logo design is not entirely based on University graduates. Most logo designs that are coming out of schools / universities do have some form of brief so the logos produced are more ‘valid’ but other logos that are found on logo design sites are usually created purely from ideas that designers have which means there is no brief or client feedback. This was more the area I was trying to question.

    Corey,
    I believe there are few forms of ‘fake’. One being created from a fictional brief (such as what you would receive at a University) and those that you create yourself. With the latter there is usually no brief or no client feedback, however with the University based projects at least you get some form of feedback from teachers and have a brief to work from. What do you think?

    Oak,
    I believe there is a huge difference between logos that have a paying client or not which is one of the reasons I wrote this article up… I am happy that it brought so many responses. Have your opinions changed since reading any other replies?

    Brad,
    Indeed, it does go past logo design and like you, I sometimes like other versions of designs which I prefer to feature instead.

    Joe,
    You bring up some great points with some very well rounded and thought our answers. In particular, your point about merit for fake designs with fictional briefs for portfolios.

    Thanks for your opinions and for adding to the discussion. Good luck for your revamp!

    Kode,
    The process that you had with your professor is great, however not all fake designs have this process behind them and this is when they lose most their validity.

    When you say that designers add “for practice” to the design I have found that nearly all designers do not put this on their designs… so how are clients to know?

    I also agree that LogoPond is not a place to host your portfolio.

    Nice quote, I actually remember reading something similar elsewhere.

    Jared,
    I think a reference to Kode’s quote would be an appropriate reply here.

    George,
    Thanks for the link George. I like your quote here:

    On the other hand I think part of the coolness of it is lost in the fact that the designer probably made the icon first and then created the company name with the icon in mind, which obviously takes way less imagination then creating it the other way around.

    Josiah also has some very valid replies.

    Prescott,
    This was one of the reasons I brought this topic up. Certainly, I did have a few logos for a student but this was because I was very interested in it, and had done a lot of research into it. You may also be interested to know that I have many other older designs that I have not showcased (due to their embarrassing nature) as you can imagine.

    But yes, it is part of a much larger debate and I like your rephrase of the topic:

    On the one hand, you did create the work, but on the other hand, the process wasn’t entirely the same as for client work. So are we misrepresenting ourselves?

    Michael,
    Some good ideas and suggestions you have there regarding fictional jobs… create a brief as you would receive from a client.

    Kevin,
    An interesting question, but it also has other considerations to take into account. For example, web templates are usually customised to the business, whereas logo designs are (usually) fixed.

    David,
    But the difference lies in what the client needs, among other things as discussed above.

    Von
    I just rescued your comment out of the spam bag… I will reply soon.

    Brad,
    Refusing to put up fake stuff is probably something you should reconsider… more examples of your work can bring in clients and if done appropriately, gain more respect / trust from potential clients and prove that you can do quality work.

    Also, glad to hear that your clients respect and like the work you produce.

    Zach,
    What you are doing by creating a real brief is a great start which will prove a lot more valuable in the long run. All the best :)

    Nikki,
    It does all depend on the scenario, and like others have said, is part of a much larger debate. I don’t agree with your phrase “if you make money but do your own work, of course you are a professional.”

    This is exactly what the problem is with design today… people think because they own Photoshop / Illustrator and a Mac, they somehow become a professional designer. I won’t go any more into this as it has all has been said before but I thought I should bring it up.

    Mitch,
    Thanks for your opinions Mitch and yes educating clients and letting them know your design decisions is a bit part of the process.

    Glen,
    Reverse-engineering fake logo designs is why I asked the question:

    “If a real client hires you, will they get a logo as creative / successful as your other fictitious logos?”

    In my opinion, in most cases, probably not.

    Jayesh,
    Thanks for your feedback.

    Dead.Pixel,
    A sport is a good analogy and yes I can agree with what you said here: “All in all I think that they are useful for beginners almost to the point of necessity.” and “And they definitely do not make a person a professional… but serve as a tool to become one.”

    Jonny & Ryan,
    Thank you for your feedback and opinions.

    Rob,
    But why would you hire someone with poorly executed designs in the first place?

  • Kai Chan Vong Reply

    As one of the designers that have brought in a creative branding for Justgiving it has really opened up my eye to fake logo designers (as you call them).

    I’ve come to this conclusion… there will be agencies which have key strenths in the following areas:

    Advertising
    Development
    Logo
    Digital
    Print

    …and more. And that they will potentially try and take on anything they can with the economic situation and with agencies becoming more skillful and their work being even more open for criticism/judgment (the web).

    I would like to add that I’ve seen amazing agencies (they’re either great in advertising/digital/development) show absolutely no understanding of logo design.

    Plus I’ve also see clients with no understanding of what type of brief to give.

    I don’t believe it’s a one way street… but it’s definitely something that people should learn and show an interest in. I don’t believe learning and understanding logo design takes a long time… however to be a master of it – that’s quite something.

    The other part is knowing if a great agency suits your style… or if you need to go down a differently great agency style. Pentagram are an amazing example of great logo design for a brand name.

  • Megan Reply

    Sometimes I spend hours and hours on mock up designs for a client, and sometimes in the end the client will like the design that is my least favorite of the bunch. But during the original comp phase, if I design several other great designs and nobody else gets to see them in the final product shouldn’t you be able to show them off somewhere??

  • Dean M Reply

    Seems to me someone who takes the work that they did for no pay and displays it for the world to see shows confidence, diligence to do work on spec, and a love for the work they do if they spend their free time doing it.

    What is the point of a portfolio anyway? To display the work you’ve done in the past as a means to guide prospective clients as to the quality and style of work you’ll do for them in the future. Seems to me “fake” logos and whatnot pull this off just as well as paid work.

    Besides, only having “real” work on display tells you nothing of if the designer handled the client well, only that they survived the process.

    Regardless, it was a thought provoking post. Hope to read more brain-building posts in the future.

  • Ryan Reply

    Using fake logo’s in a portfolio is not the issue. The issue is pretending the logo was for a real paying client.

  • Josiah Jost | Siah Design Reply

    Ahhh… Very interesting conversation…

    I definitely would not put a ‘fake’ logo in my websites portfolio. I think that would be somewhat deceitful to a client.

    It’s a whole different story and takes a lot more creativity to come up with a solution for an identity than it is to find an identity for a solution. :)

    That being said, in my spare time I often like to come up with ‘fake’ logos. It keeps the creative juices flowing and builds up an arsenal of ideas that have the possibility of being used in some form later on. Oh, and occasionally I’ll put them on logopond for the community to see. :)

  • Brent Reply

    Interesting discussion… here’s my two bits worth…

    The most successful artists are those who practice their craft. Is an artist who creates nothing still an artist? I believe that one must practice in order to master what you do. If a blacksmith only worked metal when a paying project came into the forge, he might physically be incapable of completing the job. So when there is no paying logo design contract in the studio, it could be considered imperative for the designer to “create” a hypothetical creative brief and keep their skills sharp. Now if that same designer tried to pass those designs off as anything but personal projects that would be fraud in my books.

    I like Joann’s analogy of the student portfolio. Design school projects still have validity in a portfolio and most of the creative briefs were conjured. Some of the best creative work I have seen has been personal projects or work for non-profit groups, free of client constraints and expectations.

    Be true to one’s self and one’s clients and don’t sweat what others may or may not be doing. I teach my commercial art students that there shouldn’t be a big difference between fine art and commercial art as far as creativity goes. Saying one shouldn’t design unless related to a legitimate client is folly. Cheers!

  • HorHey Reply

    I heard a discussion like this once over fake breasts. Hey as long as they look good, who cares.

  • Kode Reply

    @HorHey

    I can’t believe you just compared “fake logos” to “fake breasts”, I think this is why we have to educate clients about good logo design.

    If everyone had your “who cares” attitude, graphic design would be a completely different world :-)

  • Tim Dunford Reply

    Great question. But I do agree with the practice makes perfect view. I haven’t landed an enormous amount of logo design jobs. But if I just designed a logo every time it was for a client. I’d have about half the knowledge + skills I currently have in designing logos.

    Although on the other hand, I myself wouldn’t hire a designer who has just done “fake” logos. They wouldn’t have the same approach as a designer who has done the yards with clients before.

    Just my 2c. Great read though.

  • Alison Reply

    I think making a “fake” logo defeats the challenge that involves branding.

  • Srish - Logo Design Team Reply

    It may be a Fake Logo or a Real Logo – but you can not take the Credit away from the designer.

    Every designer has to start somewhere. Every designer is asked to prove his skills before he gets his first project.

    So, personally I do not think that there is any problem is starting your career with a Portfolio that has Fake Logos.

    The clients want to see your skills and capabilities and a portfolio like this can surely achieve this for you.

    The only thing that such a portfolio will not be able to portray is your skill with communication and your skill in understanding client vision and thoughts.

    So, as and when you grow with more and more live and original projects, you should keep on changing your portfolio. Offcourse in this journey from a Student/Amateur/Startup to Professional you add several additional skills to yourself.

  • Rongen Reply

    I totally agree with Von. Case close.

  • Luke Reply

    No wonder all the logos on Logopond are so nice :)

    It makes a huge difference whether the logo is designed for a real client or simply made up. One can basically play around in Illustrator, come up with an interesting shape that just happen to resemble something, and according to the shape create the client.

    With an actual job, the logo must represent the client, not the other way around.

    If you can create an equally successful logo for an actual client, great, though I doubt it will be that easy.

    Good post

  • Briana Reply

    Personally, I think that using fake logos and other types of fake work is fine for demonstrating creativity and technical skill. And it’s only fair that they’re disclosed as such in a portfolio.

    But if they are used in a portfolio then the designer better have something else that backs up their business and communication sense because that’s what fake work lacks–the real world give and take relationship with a client.

    It’s hard to say if a client should expect the same level of creativity from a fake logo. It depends on what the client is like, really. They can’t ask for something creative and then turn around and dictate the design every step of the way! (Believe me, on the exact same project I’ve had a client tell me “you’re not very creative” and “why didn’t you do exactly what I told you?” !!!!)

    As for your first question, Jacob, fake work does not make a professional. A professional can do fake work from time to time, but they’re a professional because of the paid work they do. Someone who ONLY has fake work is not a professional.

  • budhi d dwijaatmaja Reply

    fake == imitating == repetition ? yes. off course makes boring.
    for a proffesional logo design good research = good logo.

  • Rich Reply

    To me a good logo design is a good logo design wheather it is for a “real” client or an academic exercise. Obviously it is more difficult to get a great logo design through the design process since the client can muck up the best designs for any number of reasons.
    Maybe the answer is to indicate on your portfolio if the project is “fake’ then the clients and design community can pass their own judgement.

  • Logo Design USA Reply

    Logo should be professional and visible, if it is fake or not look professional then it will be kinda impossible to get success in market.

  • Mike Erickson Reply

    Fake Logos! I would not call any design “Fake” unless it was ripped by some other designer. The it is fake. Geez people you need to layoff the whole fake crap. Why does it bother you? I mean did anyone ever ask Picasso or Rembrandt or Van Gogh if the work they did was real or fake? I mean was it was done for a paying client or not their work is masterpieces and I feel the same about logo design. There are quite a few of those so called “fake” logos out on the market.I don’t see to many people fussing about the “crappy” fake logos now do we? That speaks a lot to me.

  • Gregory Grigoriou Reply

    As one of the most prolific designers on incspring I had to weigh in here. Some quick numbers, i have the second most logos for sale on incspring, and i have the most “springs” or thumbs uped designs. I don’t say this to brag, just letting you know who i am as pretext.

    My logos are much more illustrative than most graphic designers. I consider myself an illustrator who just happens to create in a style that is iconic enough to render my work highly appropriate for logo design. I take serious exception to anyone (Mark Dudlick) who would suggest that all of my work on incspring is garbage, simply because i have made it available for instant purchase. We don’t know what the end use for this work will be. Who is to even say that my work will in fact be used as a logo? It could be used as an icon, as a poster, as a label art, etc. If we are to denegrate all ready made logo design as unbecoming of the craft, then one has to include stock illustration as well. Stock illustration, and yes gasp stock logo design is the reality end point for a marketplace that is cutting costs and speeding up at a ravenous pace. If someone wants to use my artwork as a logo design, so be it, if they want to use it as an illustration, thats great to. The point is that i am filling a need in our society, and as a benefit to all in the industry, i am IMPROVING the visual landscape that exists out there. I am getting sick and tired of hearing so called professional designers with mediocre portfolios, whining about how this and that is undercutting the marketplace. Have these high horse designers every considered that the more good work we as a group put out there, the more demand there will be for good work? As it stands now, most quality designers have shut their doors and secluded themselves to their ivory imac to produce only a few pieces a year for top dollar. good for you, but realize that while you do that, out there is a world where the bar is being lowered by thousands of hungry designers who are doing terrible work for very little money. This means that in the grand scheme of things, the overall visual graphic landscape is in decline and the bar is being lowered ever more. I consider myself someone who is putting out very good looking work for a reasonable price. It is getting me a lot of attention, decent money, and its keeping my skills sharp as a tack. The bottom line is that there are 2 dozen of the best designers in the world on logo pond and a few on incspring. It is a essential for all our sake that good design is accessible and visible to the masses. For the record i despise and DO NOT endorse contest/spec work. Contests are the real criminal to the design process and to our respect and livelihoods. It is absolutely ludicrous to spend time questioning the validity of fake logos, when they represent nothing more than a gnat on the back of an elephant in terms of their influence on the direction of our industry. contest sites are the poachers.

    You can see my work on incspring at http://www.incspring.com/users/veep

  • Robert Anthony Reply

    A good point was brought up about ‘needing work to show’ for clients. My way to satisfy this is to do pro bono work for real customers. I think this has many benefits over making mock/fake work, the main one being you get all the experience real work brings. Agree or not, when you toss a client in the mix it is going to change things. We can all sit around all day and pull creative ideas out of the air that are good design, no arguing that, but the functionality is just that: it’s a good design and nothing more. A client can push you to beyond your own satisfaction, which I think is where mock/fake design stops because you’re the only one you have to satisfy.

    If you do mock/fake work, a good thing to do might be to get a finished work you are showing off and then put the client hat on and say “I don’t like it” or “I really want this element in the design” (said element being the graphical “screwdriver tossed into the engine”)

  • Dale Berkebile Reply

    In my mind Logo Pond is set up for inspiration. A place for graphic designer to show off their skills to peers and other designers. Probably with hopes of getting some more exposure and land some logo work.

    After reviewing the site a bit, it seems like there are some quality logos on this site. Obviously there are some weak ones as well.

    So the question can these people be considered professionals? I think that this may be more of a creative outlet to do some fun things that clients may not be willing to do. I have seen some of the logos that, hired by a client or not, are highly creative and professional looking. So the question in my mind is professional talking about the quality of work or being paid for the project by a client.

    If my company, Brandwise, was short staffed and needed some help with logos, I would give some of these people a try and see what kind of results we would get. I bet some of them would do a great job.

    Question 2: Will a customer get the same kind of logo as a fake logo? Well this is partly the responsibility of the client to give the business goals, objectives, audience and vision and then let the creative run with that. If the logo designers here can manage clients and ask the questions to get all this previously mentioned items, I’m sure these people could do a good job. The downside is that often times designers can be more focused on creativity and the cool factor and less about a businesses success. So I agree it takes a certain kind of person to be both creative and business savvy.

    Question 3: Should a client know the truth about fake logos? Well since I am owner of my company, I would suggest always being honest and up front. If I was hiring someone to help us out with a logo I would ask questions about the logos and know instantly if these people were lying about it being a client job. If a logo designer had a several great “fake logos” and very few great “professional logos”, I would ask why. For me I develop marketing and brand strategies so we know the direction we want logos to go. We direct the designers we use that these are the requirements that need to be met. As long as they are able to meet our requirements stated before the job was started, I think you’d be ok. But we know design and marketing so it is easy for us to manage. It may be tough for someone untrained in the industry.

    Question 4: What are benefits and disadvantages of fake logos. As I mentioned earlier the advantages are keeping the designer thinking creatively and using design to try out new ideas. This is a great opportunity for designer to keep their pencil sharp and ready to go on the next project. It is very rewarding doing work you are proud of so this may be a great way for designers in a non creative job to move into a better more creative position. The disadvantages would be if the designers a lying about the logo and their work with clients. This will come out eventually and could ruin the designers reputation. And since people only do business with people they know, like and trust you may lose a lot of business if you are no longer liked or trusted.

    This is a very interesting article. I hope to see more.

  • Company Logo Design Reply

    The only thing that such a portfolio will not be able to portray is your skill with communication and your skill in understanding client vision and thoughts.

  • Lorene - Logo Design Reply

    Just keep in mind that there in nothing fake, every thing has its on creativeness and uniqueness.

  • Noetic Brands Reply

    I may disagree with the terminology used (“Fake”) but I agree with the concept of the post. I think its imaginary concepts and real easy to fit a visual for an imagination. Real challenge comes when given a parameter to work with. Thats I guess the difference between a design as a “Solution” and design as an “Art”.


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