Logo for operetta

Christian Barca's picture

I'm working on a Logo for a theater group. They will perform
«Der Vogelhändler» (The Bird Seller) by Carl Zeller.

Here is a link about the story:

I thought to use some letters from book covers of Emilio Salgari.
The covers have been made during the late 19th century. This operetta was performed in this period the first time and this gives me an opportunity for an hommage. It might be a small connection, but i will give it a try.

The logo will be used for an advertising campaign (ads, brochure, posters, etc.). So it has to work in different sizes. The following logo is still in a rough stage, but the idea has been accepted by the client.

I would appriciate if you could give me some feedback about the readability and interpretation of the letters. Any general thoughts are also welcomed.

This is one example, you can find more here:

Quincunx's picture

It's looking pretty nice, although I'm not a great fan of your 'R'. Maybe something like in your exemplar image might work?

russ_mcmullin's picture

I think it would be nice if you could get more of an organic quality to the letters. The ones on the book cover look like they have been drawn by hand, but yours look like they were made on a computer. The stroke weights are too uniform. The book cover also shows more variation in the cap height of the letters.

novembernovember's picture

A lot of things are going on right in the middle of the logo:
1) LH ligature
2) L with double horizontal stroke
3) H with double horizontal stroke
4) two dots offset from the A
5) "DER" meets "VOGELHA¨NDLER"

Though I like the double horizontal strokes, they add to the 'business' of the area.

Could you lose one of them?
I don't think they 'mean' or resemble anything - ie they are mere decoration ... but - I get the idea, due to the fact that there are two of these letters, and because they are next to each other, that they resemble something. (But they don't, do they?)

henrypijames's picture

I agree with Quincunx that the foot of the "R" could be better -- maybe a simpler curve?

Also the density of the logo is uneven -- the left part looks empty, making it out of balance. Generally that could be a good thing, but in this case it just looks "light headed" to me. I'd suggest either trying to move "DER" over the "O" or -- more drastically -- push "VOG" together so they cross each other, like the "DE" in that book cover.

henrypijames's picture

And in case you don't move "DER" to the left, I suggest you move it slightly to the right to align it with the "H". With "H" over "L" it's hard to separate "VOGEL" and "HÄNDLER", left-aligning "DER" with "HÄNDLER" may help.

Christian Barca's picture

Thank you for your feedback! They're very helpful.

Here is an other Image with the changes you recommended.

There will be a icon, of a birdcage with a rose laying in there, additional to the letters. I think I want to sort the letters out first and then continue to composite with the icon.

I agree with you russ, the letters should have more of an organic touch. I work on that when I have the final composition of the logo.

as you can see in the third example, which is my favorite so far, it helps the readability without the doubles. The resamble of the double crossbar has to do with the birdcage icon, but it might work without it.


Quincunx's picture

I like the 'R' on the middle one much better to be honest.

novembernovember's picture

I like that third example now.

BTW, the umlaut dots offset to the right over the A - exactly where the A gives way for the dots - is a nice touch, very subtle!

henrypijames's picture

I really like the second of the three, except for the "R" -- I don't like either new version of it. Your original "R" was quite consistent with the other letters, only the foot needed fixing. The two new versions are both inconsistent with the rest -- they even have a different optical angle. To me, they disturb the general picture.

The "OG" ligature looks even better than I thought, I'd strongly recommend it no matter where you want to put the "DER".

henrypijames's picture

Oh, and the "H" in the second row doesn't seem quite right -- did you deliberately raise the bar a bit, or was it an accident? It should be like the one in the third row.

And if you don't align "DER" to the "H", the "H" shall have the double bar (and the "A" would then loose it) to highlight the begin of "HÄNDLER" -- as you did in the first row, but not in the third row.

Christian Barca's picture

Hello and thanx again!

Here's an example with the Icon. As you can see I'm down to two letter versions, one with the OG ligature and one without. The icon is mirrord on the second.

Arggh the R! I created the R out of the E and the bow of the G, i'ts now something between the first and third.

Let me know what you think.


novembernovember's picture

I think it has become too complicated ...

Look at the last example:

Attention grabber #1:
The art deco (?) typeface in itself

Attention grabber #2:
The OG ligature

Attention grabber #3:
The G drops below the baseline

Attention grabber #4:
The LH ligature

Attention grabber #5:
The double crosbar H

Attention grabber #6:
The offset umlaut dots

Attention grabber #7:
The LE ligature

Attention grabber #8:
The R drops below the baseline

This is far too much ... the legibility suffers from it.

I think you should try two things:
Raise the G up to the baseline, and loose the 'double crossbar idea' (should it resemble the bird cage? I don't think it works).

I think that this logotype is going to be printet rather small from time to time, so you will need to make it easier to read.

henrypijames's picture

The second one is definitely better, not only because of the "OG" ligature, but also because the cage opens in the direction where there's open space. The "R" looks OK to me, too.

I strongly disagree with novembernovember that all this is gotten to complicated -- this isn't functional design, it's artistic design for an artistic subject. Plus, art deco logogramm is supposed to be somewhat complicated -- aka sophisticated.

Christian Barca's picture

This Book cover has inspired me the most, and gave me the kick to try something different.

«In Fiamme» means in flames. Very clever the Ms.

Christian Barca's picture


The smallest size of using the logo is about 45mm x 30mm. Here is an example set in this measurements and two black and white version.

The first one here has been reduced to the max as you recommend november. I like it and it's easy to read. It still has the flair of the first idea. I know it's a complicated logo, but when I just want to do something simple, I would use a suitable Font and type the words DER VOGELHÄNDLER. This is not what I had in mind and so I stick to the idea I had in the first place.

The second is the same as before. I understand why you think the double crossbar on the «H» should stay henry. It helps to underline the beginning of the word «HÄNDLER». The OG ligature is a nice touch to symbolize the romantic side of that operetta. Have I sad that, I think the Icon itself gives me the romantic side. I'm not shure if I'll use the ligature.

I have a presentation tomorrow. Cross the fingers that they're not goin to change the whole thing.


Quincunx's picture

In the small size it's not the type that is the problem so much, it's more the cage. The cage gets very messy, especially when white on black. The rose is no longer recognizable as a rose, maybe only on the full color version.
I probably would try to make it a little less cluttered.

henrypijames's picture

The small-size versions all looks so blurred -- I think it's because you didn't use the correct resizing method. Instead of down-sampling the original vector graphic (I suppose the original is a vector graphic), you resized the regular size bitmap image instead -- possibly with "linear" and not "bicubical" algorithm?

Or you did down-sample the vector graphic, but with "Soft" instead of "Sharp" anti-aliasing?

Christian Barca's picture

I'm glad the client accepted the whole concept and I would like to thank you all for the support!

There are a few things I have to change. As you recommend Quincunx, the cage and the rose have to be more simple – less cluttered. I think I'm still away from my personal target. McMullin gave me the advise to make the letters more organic, I think he's right. So I'm gonna try to write the letters with a dip pen. This will take me some time, but as soon I got an example to show, i'll post it.


Christian Barca's picture

Hello folks!

Here is a new post. I simplified the birdcage and added some serifs to the letters. I tried to write the letters with a dip pen, but it didn't came out as I thought.

What do you think?

Fischers Fritz fischt frische Fische, frische Fische fischt Fischers Fritz

Miss Tiffany's picture

I've been following this thread, just have posted yet. I really do like where it has been taken.

The LH pairing creates a little bit of a dark spot, not huge, just note. I also think given the fact that you are willing to make those letters so close you should consider bring Der down closer and perhaps the cage too.

henrypijames's picture

The new cage looks fine, but I really don't like the serifs.

Ratbaggy's picture

serifs don't work for this at all ... in my opinion

Paul Ducco
Graphic Design Melbourne

Christian Barca's picture

Hi and Thanx again for your comments.

The serifs are gone and the space is less between «DER» and the birdcage to «VOGELHÄNDLER».

I took the next step and started to composite the logo with an image that will be used for posters, brochure and other print stuff. I used Jenson Pro for the information copy, I think it works well.

What do you think about the image and the font for the copy, do you get the operetta feeling?


Fischers Fritz fischt frische Fische, frische Fische fischt Fischers Fritz

adnix's picture

Odd that you post such beautiful examples of what inspired you, and then your poster is such a crowded design that seems to disregard your inspirations.

I think you should establish a better hierarchy. Right now all the elements compete to be the main focus.

The disembodied hand feeding the birds looks strange, both in the execution and also in placement. Look at the first inspiration poster you posted--it has a very clear image that is easy to decipher and captures the viewers attention. The title on that poster, while large, becomes the secondary element (as it should be).

Your rose and birdcage looks very "clip-art-y" It would be better if you redrew it with varying line weights to make a more impactful piece.


henrypijames's picture

A few remarks on the text:

1. Usually it should say "Eine Operette von Carl Zeller";
2. There's absolutely no reason for swash capitals in "Vorstellung [...]" -- I wouldn't even use them in "Operette [...]";
3. Don't use semibold for "Tickets & Infos";
4. Better yet, drop italic entirely for "Vorstellung [...]" and "Tickets [...]" -- the text is small enough to read, italic just makes it evern harder;
5. "ab 4. September 2007 Telefon [...]" isn't a sentence -- better change it to "ab 4. September per Telefon [...]" ("2007" should be obvious);
6. You might want to adhere to the standard German telephon number format, which would be "(062) 8 73 08 44" whereas the spaces in between should all be thin spaces (1/4 en, or just "Thin Space" in InDesign).

kattttor's picture

I agree with the clipart feel that the cage has. I imagined something in the lines of Jugendstil or Art Neavou when I saw the cover you posted. That the cage would be very decorative. Im missing that also in the type, When I think about opera I get similar images like the cover you posted, much detail and curves. Same goes for the rose.

Otherwise I think the type has the right basic idea to it but in my opinion it should be more decorative and maybe a little thicker.

some kind of style examples
http://www.mamac.be/local/cache-vignettes/L369xH288/Mucha-33324-a7ce7.jpg (this one is a little small)

that's my two cents and I've never been to a opera in my entire life so I might not be the best judge on this. I just have opera on tv knowledge :)


Christian Barca's picture


I decided to go with this image, because the client wants a photo and not an illustration and no people. I know that the style of the logotype is art nouveau and I would love to do something in the way like Alphonse Mucha. There is slightly a problem – the story is held in 1790, which is more baroque then jugendstil. I think the Image I used is a compromise between the story and the first perfomance period. Some kind baroque meets art nouveau.

About my inspiration examples: I didn't intend to copy the style of image, it was the typestyle that fascinated me. Maybe I didn't made myself clear about that. Thanx anyway for the critique and links.

I've changed the information copy as you recommend henry. Thanx for the input, I think I played to much with the open type features and lost focus!

About the birdcage: Yep, it looks cliparty but it is simple and it works in small sizes. The client hasn't seen it yet, so I wait for the response.

This is the poster I'll present to the client

Fischers Fritz fischt frische Fische, frische Fische fischt Fischers Fritz

Christian Barca's picture

Thanx Miss Tiffany
Fischers Fritz fischt frische Fische, frische Fische fischt Fischers Fritz.

Miss Tiffany's picture

They aren't white lines they are where the flattener has cut the image. Set your black type to overprint and it might improve where it cuts.

henrypijames's picture

Glad you took my advice, but I think you're playing with the Open Type features still -- the "st" ligature is no more a distraction. Also the phone number should be "[...] 8 73 [...]" and not "[...] 87 3 [...]".

About losing the "Operetta" line -- I'm not sure why you did it.

Christian Barca's picture

Hello everyone!

Just want to update this thread. It took me almost three weeks, but anyway i'm back on track with the image. As you can see, I had to illustrate the birds. The client changed his mind. They want it colourful and flat. And the birds shouldn't look like «Spatzen» anymore? I don't know the english name for «Spatzen», sorry for that! So this is what i came up with so far.

Fischers Fritz fischt frische Fische, frische Fische fischt Fischers Fritz

Quincunx's picture

I think Spatzen are sparrow in English.
I don't think they were sparrows to begin with? ;)

Edited this post purely so it is back below Christians last post, where it was before he edited his post. ;)

henrypijames's picture

I'm surprised the poster is still in the making, given the whole time table.

Anyway, I don't see any reason why "Eine Operette [...]" should be center-aligned (to a non-existing "center") and not right-aligned.

Christian Barca's picture

They started the pre production early, as you can see, they performance starts next year! That's also a reason that the client changes his mind all the time. Anyway, I like it so far and present this next week.


Fischers Fritz fischt frische Fische, frische Fische fischt Fischers Fritz.

henrypijames's picture

OK, I don't quite understand why you changed the text blocks all from ragged to block, but it doesn't look so bad.

However, the typographic quotes you use are definitely wrong -- in German the typographic quotes have to point inwards, not outwards. Actually I also don't see any reason why the line should be in quote at all -- it isn't a quote from anyone or anywhere.

Since the date is written in full, "2008" shouldn't be abbreviated to "08".

And in contrary to what I've written before, the last line containing the phone number should be: "[...] Telefon: 062 8730844". Apparently, the relevant DIN standard has been updated a few years ago, which I've been unaware of until now:


But in any case, the colon after "Telefon" is mandatory as otherwise the sentence would be grammatically incorrect.

Alaskan's picture

If it were me, I'd give the whole layout some air. To my eye, too many elements are competing for the focal point. Have you tried a more traditional poster layout? I sketched it out roughly;

Christian Barca's picture

Thanx for you comments.


«in German the typographic quotes have to point inwards, not outwards»

Yeah that's true, but in Switzerland it is the opposite. We do it the french way. Anyway you right, I don't need them there. So I'll get rid off them. I'm not shure how the phone number should be set, again in Switzerland we have some other ways of doin things. I'll have to do some research!


Sorry, but this doesn't work for me. It's too conservativ, traditional and the readability is gone. About the focal Point: I imagine someone gets off the bus and sees the poster hangin at a wall and reconizes the birds first, the logo second and the info copy at last, but doesen't have to do a step forward to read each off them. I might have to try that with a test audience, to be sure it works. Thanx anyway, it's a good point.

Fischers Fritz fischt frische Fische, frische Fische fischt Fischers Fritz.

Alaskan's picture

I see your points, Christian, I just thought I saw a way to make the birds stand out more. I was trying to give the birds and the logo more harmony -- they seem from different eras?

Just curious -- what size is the poster?

henrypijames's picture

I agree with Alaskan that an asymmetrical layout is definitely worth exploring -- although I disagree with his suggestion that the birds need to "stand out more".

The proportions in his quick example does appear completely unusable. In case you don't know, Alaskan, the print size of the poster is actually irrelevant regarding readability. In any paged layout, all elements should be readable from a distance that's equal to the diagonal length of the page. The proportions in your example would clearly fail that test.

BTW, I totally fail to see how an asymmetrical layout is "more traditional". If anything, it's the opposite.

Christian Barca's picture

Maybe traditional in the term of the way they teach us at school! I remember the class we had about typographical layouts, I think I wasn't so good at it. But I remember that we had 23 different ways of doin a layout, each student came up with a solution. My solutuion should be in the criteria as mentioned in the post above.

«they seem from different eras?»

Yeah, there are. The logotype is based on art nouveau letters. The bird cage is clip art and the birds?? Lazy afternoon trash, I would say.
Fischers Fritz fischt frische Fische, frische Fische fischt Fischers Fritz.

Christian Barca's picture

The size would be from A6 to A0.
Fischers Fritz fischt frische Fische, frische Fische fischt Fischers Fritz.

Sharon Van Lieu's picture

I like using an illustration much better than the photo. The poster is complex and interesting. It would get my attention. Nice work!


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