Monogram Logo for Musician

Luma Vine's picture

I am working on a monogram style logo for a musician, and would like some comments to help me refine the lockup. The musician plays trumpet and also some other instruments, and is classically trained. He performs and teaches in classical and jazz improvisation styles. I wanted the mark to capture the elegance and sophistication of the music, and also fit in with something like a University setting. I am happy with the concept but the typography seems to be where I am having the most questions, but feel free to comment on any of it. Here is where I am with it so far:

eliason's picture

Clever idea. I think the left part of T should be closer to symmetrical with the right in weight and shape.

Arno Enslin's picture

I would begin with visually equalizing the height of Timothy and James. (A side effect would be, that you could give James a bit more letter spacing, although I am not sure, if more letter spacing is needed in case of that logo.) And then I would think about, if two typefaces are necessary.

Luma Vine's picture

Thanks for the comments! I did have the T symmetrical, but I started to look for something in the negative space on the left. Maybe that's just me. I will play around with making it more similar but slightly different. I thought maybe the note is not obvious enough, and having the odd T helps you see the note. But then again, I kind of like how the note is not obvious at first, but easily seen after looking. I wonder how obvious it needs to be and how quickly others see it. Or did others miss it entirely?

I am wondering if Bodoni would work for everything or if anyone has any other suggestions. I kind of wanted to bring is a juxtaposition or slight contrast between the type faces to suggest more variety to the music (from classical orchestra to pub jazz), and bring in a slight institutional (University) feel with the sans-serif, but maybe thats not working. I thought it would play off of the different letter shapes in the mark too. I was trying to match the weight of the heavy lines in the sans and serif fonts, but matching letter height is a good idea. I wanted to slightly emphasize the last name since that is often the defining identity in this profession (think prof. _____ or composed by ____ ). But I do think matching the letter height is a good direction. I will also play around with a single font to see if I can find something that works a little better. Maybe I was too worried about the space between the lines of text with a lowercase last name.

Thanks again for all the help! It really gives me a lot to think about.

p.s. how do you embed the image instead of just link or attach?

eliason's picture

p.s. how do you embed the image instead of just link or attach?

There's an "Insert image" link just below the text box.

Luma Vine's picture

Thanks, I guess my powers of observation are weaker than I thought!

Better, worse?

Arno Enslin's picture

The thin cuts don’t work there, because they are slayed by the bold ones. And in example A JAMES looks still slightly higher than Timothy. From the three examples C looks the best, but I would try a heavier weight. And while the sans serif, that you used, did not necessarily need a bit more spacing, the serif does, if you set the word in capital letters only. In case of C I don’t feel uncomfortable with the different point sizes. In example A James is already spaced too wide. (When I wrote about the letter spacing, I did not mean, that it is needed, but should be tried only.)

penn's picture

The mark is clever.

Try setting the names in the same font, at the same size. Also try all on one line (not stacked). Let the name fall back in importance to the mark — let it be subtle. Right now, both vie for equal attention and they're conflicting.

--
penn

Luma Vine's picture

Thanks Arno and penn. I will try them in the same font on one line. I didn't try that because I usually expect these kind of marks to not be skinny and long, but maybe in this case it could work. I suspect that in use it will be less demanding than a corporate identity in terms of aspect ratio.

Arno, could you clarify what thin cuts you are referring to? In the mark or in the font? Thanks for the tracking advice, it was spot on.

Luma Vine's picture

Ok, here is the latest update. Any thoughts?

eliason's picture

I'd try the white space between the flags (the dot of the j) thicker.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

I really like this idea, but it (both the symbol and the symbol with text) feels unbalanced to me. For the symbol, how would an italic version look? You could also try extending the j/J terminal even further around the note.

You could easily use T’s and a J more similar in shape (especially the curved J) in the text.

riccard0's picture

I like it overall, but think that the left of the note remains a little too open.

H0lyDr34d's picture

I think you should try combining that last mark (which looks great btw) with the first 2 typefaces you used for "Timothy James."
I think that may look really nice.

Luma Vine's picture

Thanks for all the great comments!

@eliason & riccard0: I think you both are right. Thanks for the keen eye.

Update:

@H0lyDr34d: Thanks! I was thinking that simplifying and minimizing the type would help the mark stand out more and help balance things. I would be open to some other type suggestions, however.

@frode frank: I can see how the mark might come off as unbalanced since the left third is darkest - any ideas how to address that? Is the overall unbalance you are seeing a symptom of the composition? I tried the italic thing (skew the whole thing), and I am not convinced. It could be my execution, but it feels too much like an action movie to me. Is this what you meant:

evanbrog's picture

It took me far too long to find that musical note within the TJ--and I only looked for something there thinking, well why have they made that silly curve on the bottom of the T when the face they're using has a flat bottom? I don't think non-designers think that way. There needs to be some sort of refinement, probably in the bottom of the J.

I will say what bothers me is a lack of consistency in the details--pointy ends on the T's crossbar, rounded (but not tapered) bottom, then the hook on the J tapers awkwardly.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

I agree Luma, and yes: the composition is unbalanced.

Luma Vine's picture

@evanbrog: I understand the desire for it to be immediately apparent that it is both initials and a note, but surely there is some room for a moment before discovery. I had the same concern initially and showed it to several people who all saw both, but not necessarily immediately. I think you are right about some tweaks, however I am not sure about changing some of the features that create the note shape. Perhaps you could elaborate on how the refinements you propose would affect both the letter forms and the negative space recognition. I am having a hard time visualizing what you mean.

@frode frank: Any suggestions for arranging these elements more successfully?

small update:

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Not really on the composition, but: The note "ball" doesn't have to sag, does it?

Penn' one line suggestion is not neccesarily bad, but size-wise the mark looks way too dominant to my eyes.

Every now and then these critique threads on Typophile makes me wonder if time wouldn't be better spent collaborating with another designer you trust than getting opinions from so many different people. It's not so in every project, obviously, but still quite often.

evanbrog's picture

"Moment of discovery" Yea, I guess I'll buy that.

I think what I was thinking was that the bottom of the J could match the curve of the note--there's just something I hate about that J! I like all the other letters in that font (though the S is negligible IMO).

Of course, to take the other side, you don't want it appearing TOO bulky either. Perhaps there's a middle ground.

Luma Vine's picture

@frode frank: The note head could come level a bit more I suppose. It was important to maintain authenticity in the note shape because the audience and client are sensitive to what often comes off as cartoonish or caricatures of music symbols in a lot of music related graphics. But there is some room for rotating it a bit. It does impact the curve of the J but perhaps that could be a benefit. I will try it, thanks.

I can see collaborating with another designer as an alternative to online feedback, thats a good option. I agree that there is a danger of design by committee via message board. But I feel this thread has been productive, and I am happy with how the mark has progressed as a result of some of the feedback I have received. That's reason enough for me!

@evanbrog: I think I see what you mean. I will play around with that. The J in the original font is very narrow with a tiny hook, and so I modified it as well as some of the other letters (A and T especially). I was trying for a J a bit like Frutiger black but with a taper to match the weight variation of the other letters. But I can see trying some other options, thanks for the visual!

Luma Vine's picture

Just wanted to post the updated version. I took inspiration for the type from the many Blue Note record covers that use Frankin Gothic Cond.

litera's picture

Oh Yes. I never liked those ones with custom tweaked type. I like the TIMOTHY JAMES in this last one.

But with the mark there can still be some work done. Have you tried to cut the right part of T and higher the J to match it's top and put a dot on the J as if it bumped the right part of T off? Know what I mean?

Something along these lines... I haven't used correct fonts and completely done the logo (no curves, but I just wanted to show you what I mean by cutting off the right part of T.

I suppose the negative space could also be transformed into a trumpet ending.

Luma Vine's picture

litera, that totally destroys the sixteenth note in the negative space, which is the central concept of this design. I would be hard pressed to claim that it still is a TJ monogram since those letters are not very present. I guess I no longer see how it fits the brief. It is an interesting shape though, and thank you for taking the time to comment.

litera's picture

@Luma Vine: Oh yes you're right. I didn't see the note in negative space at all. (?!) But I was wondering about the strangely shaped bottom of T. :)

Well. Maybe you should emphasize it a bit more so it would be more visible. Or maybe not. I didn't see the arrow in FedEx either. I do now, but I didn't.

But you'll have to do something about the bottom of J anyway.

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