So, who is Mike Erickson?

I’m 40 year old father of four, professional logo designer ,typographer and illustrator, AKA Logomotive. I have been designing professionally online since 1998 under the name Logo Motive Designs. I would consider myself pretty good at designing strong marks with complimenting type. I have done half a dozen professional typefaces on the market for Letterheadfonts. I am very passionate about my work and enjoy doing my own thing. My beginning work started out to be more illustrative, but found through my experience that I really enjoy designing strong memorable marks and custom type. Most of my newer work can be seen here at Logopond, where I am a featured artist.

Ken Luallen Photography

Logo name: Kenluallen Client: Ken Luallen

What makes a good logo in your opinion?

I think a good logo design is one that WORKS for the company. A good logo design should be:

1. Good concept. You don’t always have to be overly clever, but make sure the concept has solid meaning and makes sense. Nothing better than a rock solid concept.

2. Distinctive and Memorable. A good logo can easily be understood and explained to others in a few words.

3. Adaptable. I think many designers forget the importance of Adaptability in their design work. Make sure the design can work in different environments such as horizontal and vertical layouts and be able to be reversed out. The logo should be able to work in print, digital, embroidery and signage. Consider the design being used in the largest and smallest of sizes.

4. It $ells. If the logo does not sell to the target audience, then I guess it can be considered as a fail.

Prepare for these these things and I think you will have a GREAT logo.

Thrive DC Logo

Logo name: Thrive DC Agency: Logo Motive Designs Designer: Mike Erickson Client: Thrive DC

What makes a good logo designer?

One that can Adapt, Adjust and Overcome whatever project is thrown at them. I think a good logo designer has to be a good listener and visual interpreter. Your the creative one and the client is coming to you for your creativity and skills and knowledge. I mean who really wants to be just a “button pusher”. Be creative and sell your idea. A good logo designer feels pressure, pressure to perform and satisfy the client. A good logo designer is one who follows the guidelines to question number 2.

There is so much more involved in being a good logo designer .. I think skill, knowledge in the field and a good eye are equally important.

What are your main methods of finding new clients and which of those methods work best?

Interesting and most appropriate question considering I have done very little marketing in the past oh.. 10 years or so. Most of my client base is repeat clients or referrals from my clients, however I do see a stronger need for personal promotion these days. I do receive some inquiries through my online portfolios from logo sites such as logopond, Logofaves, Logomooose, Logofi and of course Letterheadfonts. So with that said, I think building a good solid client base is priceless, however people come and go so marketing is equally as important. Blogging seems a good way to go these days. =) I’ve gotta get on that.

City Direct

Logo name: City Direct Client: Conceptual

What is your typical design process when designing a logo for a new client?

Contact. I have found over the past few years that if you do not make contact with someone as soon as possible they look elsewhere or move on. I make my best effort to make immediate contact to let them know how interested and enthused I am.

Questions. I go over many questions with my clients picking their brain about their business and asking many questions like how they started? Who is their competition? How is the logo going to be used? Where they intend to go? What they want to convey? Who is their target audience? ( key question in logo design).

Brainstorming. I start brainstorming ideas with my clients and many times they are excited to hear my initial ideas even before they are put to paper. I write down things relevant to the business to get the creative juices going. Many ideas have come from the initial contact with the client just doodling and sketching while talking to them over the phone. Creativity to me is like adrenaline, when it’s flowing you don’t want to stop.

Sketching. I STRONGLY BELIEVE IN THIS. Brainstorming and sketching kind of go hand in hand. I get so much creative juice out of the pencil, however sometimes it leads me into other brilliant ideas =) I highly recommend sketching ideas out, many of them. ” The pencil is mightier than the mouse.” ME

Presenting. Once I have sketched out some good solid concepts and ideas, I will clean up, vectorize and present to the client a couple good ones. I have found that clients tend to look at the imperfect detail in sketches and it’s sometimes too hard to explain how it will be cleaned up. However I do have some clients that I can present rough sketches to, I appreciate those clients.

Final and Prep. The best part right? Not always. I actually enjoy the design part but this is the part that gives you the remaining balance and makes your clients return. Take care of this part. Even though it’s the most tedious part, it’s the most important part. Prep good clean files and only enough to get the job done right. Supplying too many file types will overwhelm the client and cause confusion down the road. I also offer my opinion and eye for clients prior to running prints or publishing work.

EyeHelp Logo

Logo name: Client: Cosgrove Technology Group.

How do you present your concepts to your clients and how many do you usually provide? What final files do you deliver to your client?

I usually present my initial concepts via PDF . I usually show the logos in black and white with a couple layout options. I say 3 concepts or within a certain allowed timeframe figured into the design contract. I try to give them really good solid and conceptual designs so I put a lot of sweat and effort into my initial designs. This can be a little draining if I do not succeed on the first attempts. The final files delivered are Vectors and high resolution bitmaps and any other relevant file needed for the project.

Has there ever been a case when the client was not fully satisfied with the suggested logo designs? If yes, how did you handle that? Did you charge extra for the additional designs? How often does this happen?

OF course! I would not be human if this has not happened to me. I get told all the time. “I like it, but it is not the same as the ones in your portfolio.” Or “I want it to say WOW like your other stuff”. Building or showcasing a good strong portfolio can increase your clients but on the same token it often puts more pressure on you to WOW your audience. Everyone wants the next WOW factor logo , but sometimes it is just impossible. I just try to work through and deliver a logo that works for the client and one they can be proud of. Most of the time the client understands where I am coming from and understands that perhaps they did not choose or have the best name or business to work with… to have that mind blowing logo. My clients tend to respect my creativity, skills, work and my time so we usually will work things out. I have refunded in the past though.

Flipside Logo

Logo name: FlipSide Client: Flipside Entertainment

How long do you spend on average creating a logo? What are the factors that contribute to how long you spend creating a logo?

On average, I have spent anywhere from 2 hrs. to 1 year. Now how does that average out? Humm.. I have some designs that I have been put on hold for months and had some designs that I have nailed down within minutes. I actually had one logo design that took about 1 1/2 hours from contact to delivery. It is was my Knotheads logo. Client contacted me told me about his business, I had a bandanna around so I tied it it in a knot, sketched it out, vectorized and colored it and sent to him. Within an hour He said “I love it, do no more”. He paid up and I delivered. I don’t think there is a set time on how long it takes, however I respect and do my best to deliver if I have a deadline. I usually quote from 1 to 3 weeks for the average project. Bottom line I just think you design until you get it right, but make sure your being compensated for your valuable time.

How do you choose the right colour and font for each logo design project? Do you have any favourite or most used fonts that you use in your projects? Why?

I really think choosing the right color is pretty self explanatory, yet so difficult to do. I mean your not going to paint a sky red unless your designing Doomsday or RedDawn. Color has always been a challenge for me explaining to my clients a little color theory. If they like blue and hate red perhaps they’ll take purple? Color is so influential. I honestly think that color is one of the toughest parts of logo design (as this is this is where most of my revisions come from). I have had clients not like a logo just because they did not like a certain color. So I always show them in black first. I have found that I’m pretty safe with blues =) Color? Maybe design it in Rainbow colors and your safe?? I ‘m still working on the whole color solution.

Being a typographer I don’t tend to have a favorite font as most of my work is custom type or type treatment. But I would say that in most cases I have used a sans serif font as my base. It all depends on the mark or logotype to me, that is how I determine what typeface to use.

Elefont Logo

Logo name: elefont Client: TBD

Do you have any main influences that affect your work?

I’m influenced by positives and negatives.

What is the most challenging part about logo design and how do you deal with it?

I find one of the most difficult parts in logo design is explaining to the client the integrity of the design as it was designed. I have clients who want me to move things around, change the typeface, color, layout and in the end it would be a complete different design. “We love it but we don’t like the color, font, layout and concept?”

Huh? ok let me explain……..

OK the most difficult part is those head scratching requests.

General Oil Gas Logo

Logo name: General Oil and Gas Client: Mark Bogani

What are your most favorite design resources? ie. What gives you inspiration and where can we find it? How do you deal with creative blocks?

This probably my favorite question you have asked. I find a lot of inspiration from my fellow colleagues such as Von and Steven whom were two of this first that kept my inspiration up and live since I began online.

I also find much inspiration from Gerard and Holly these are just a few of the old schoolers I have been inspired from, but I’m finding new inspiration from all my new friends at Logopond and now of course Twitter.

I actually do not do much online surfing for inspiration, I seem to find it from everything else around me. I try to avoid looking around to get ideas> Look around it’s everywhere and not just there.

If your having a creative block, take a break, take a walk, watch a movie. Don’t force it and waste your time, come back later.

Railroad Days Logo

Logo name: RailRoad Days Client: Selma, North Carolina

What are your plans for the near future and where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

Well hopefully in ten years I will still be a designer. I would like to offer more to the design community and expand my skills. I plan to have more typefaces on the market and pondering the idea of an identity consulting business. I’m always open to new ideas and adventures though.

Lastly, what advice would you give to an aspiring logo designer? And any last words?

Yes, find your own style and do your own thing. Don’t be afraid to step out of the circle and try new things and experiment. Listen to what your elders have said though. They have been there before you and design is ART and SCIENCE and SOME rules should not be changed but don’t be afraid to try and invent new rules. Be a trend setter not a trend follower. Enjoy what you do but grow thick skin.

MANY thanks to Jacob and his awesome, inspiring blog!

34 Comments For This Post

  1. Jared Says:

    In the game of logos, Mike E wins :)

  2. Jan Zabransky Says:

    Good inspiring reading Mike. And Your new Logomotive logo perfectly fits your identity. Keep on doing good job. Good luck.

  3. David Airey Says:

    Hi Mike (and Jacob),

    That City Direct monogram is one of my favourites, and it’s admirable how you juggle work with four kids and everything else going on.

    It’s been said before, and you’re probably fed up hearing about it, Mike, it’d be superb to see you showcase your best work on an updated website. :)

    Great choice of interviewee, Jacob.

  4. Josiah Jost | Siah Design Says:

    Excellent interview, Mike! I was nodding along with so many of your points. You’re one of the best logo designers in my mind… Keep it up bro

  5. justme Says:

    Some nice work. Nice process for designing a logo. I wanted to take it a step further even though it may be some what off topic but still seems plays a role in designing a logo.

    As we all know a logo is only one aspect of a brand identity and what anchors the identity as a whole. Do you work on developing a style guide showing the usage of the logo. Size and restriction? What type face you should use with logo (primary typeface, online typeface) *not what typeface for the logo* What colors the company should use (Core Brand colors, Secondary colors, web colors)? What would all the stationary look like, powerpoint template, brochure, folders. How will this company present them self in all forms of media online and offline. How will print/online advertisements look. What guidance if any do you give to your clients? Would you just supply them with a logo and a business card? or would you supply them with a complete brand structure along with tag-lines, overall messaging?

    Reason I ask is take your ThriveDC logo. I really like it. The illustration and type along with placement of the mark “illustration” and colors looks really nice. The problem is when I visited their web site it doesn’t have the same impact as it does viewing it here. Even though you may not of had anything to do with the web site design process having a structure in place how the logo should be used could go a long way.

    What are your thoughts on this?


    *Nice interview Jacob.

  6. Jenny Leonard Says:

    Great Interview. I think your logos are really brilliant and you would do well with an Identity Consulting Business.

    I really love the City Direct logo… awesome!


  7. Mike Erickson Says:

    Thanks for the nice comments People.
    @Justme, you bring up some key questions. I guess it all depends on the specific project and the amount of work done by contract.If the project is an entire branding process that I am handling, I would supply all needed information and guidelines.I work with a few design firms that handle the next phase of the branding. I do supply logo guidelines and Pantone,CMYK and RGB files.along with suggested complimentary type. Recommendation is what I give, but what the client does with the logo is their choice and many times that part is out of my control, as was the ThriveDC case. All I can do is offer my skills and suggestions unless I’m handling more of the actual branding .I hope that helped answer some of your questions.Many it takes more than one man to do and ENTIRE Branding, but I’m always there for my clients for an eye and opinion. Thanks

    Thanks again for the Interview Jacob.

  8. Donald G Wooten II Says:

    Hands down the best article I’ve read in months. Good questions and Real answers bound by slick logos that tell their own stories. The Flipside mark is the type of genius that initially attracted me to this field. I also appreciate the light mention of a weak name compromising the impact of its own logo. I encounter this way too often.
    Thanks for this Mike + Jacob.

  9. justme Says:

    thanks for your reply.
    Yea it’s a long process doing the whole package. I’ve been lucky enough over the years to have clients that I’m able to do the complete branding experience. It also makes me feel more like a control freak and being able to dictate how the logo should be used and almost stand over them with a ruler when they ste out of line. :-)

    Sometimes it’s helpful to think beyond just the logo when designing. Even giving the client your take on how things should be even though they may not of requested it. It makes the designer think differently when presenting their designs. Ex. How will this logo be used and what elements from it can be branded and used through out the Identity. I’ve noticed some clients take an existing logo and hand it over to an agency to develop a brand strategy and sometimes leave out the creator of the logo even to the point where they take the logo and develop a style guide for it. I always wonder how they are able to do that without the person who created it.

    well good interview and good work.

  10. Jared Says:

    Nice of “justme” to come in on someone else’s interview and somehow manage to make it about himself.

  11. adroadtrip Says:

    Wow… I am intrigued by creative illustrators like Mike. Great work, and equally great post. Thanks for the inspiration and contribution to out further learning.

  12. Selvin Ortiz Says:

    @Mike Nice to see you on here mike, great interview!

    @Jacob Awesome of you to have such a great designer on here dude!

    @justme What a way to hijack this post douche bag!

  13. Mike Erickson Says:

    @justme thanks and I have been lucky enough also to do complete brand work. In fact Remington Firearms contacted me to REBRAND a few years ago. I have Logos on 747’s, major city logos, Logos in the Rosebowl Parade, package design in stores and many of my fonts used on products. I’m not sure what your getting at but I have credentials and knowledge if that’s the question.

  14. justme Says:

    Whoa Mike and others. I was not questioning you’re credentials by no means. Wow. Easy there. Don’t shoot me with remington shotgun.

    Maybe when I said I liked your work and it was a good interview went over your head. You’re a star man and I’m justme.

    Anyhoot. Still you have nice work and the questions I brought up related to a process and has nothing to do with you’re credentials. You coming back throughing names around to make you feel qualified was silly and no reason to since I wasn’t questioning nor would I.


  15. Mike Erickson Says:

    It is cool, but that’s the general feeling I got about it when reading your post. Freedom of speech I guess. I just thought there might be a more tactful way and other place to speak your thoughts. Your right I should have just shut my mouth. OH and the little comment about the shotgun somewhat reinforces my thoughts and feelings but my bad.

  16. Sneh | LBOI Blog Says:

    Great interview Jacon & Mike! Mike, your work is indeed very unique. I never grow tired of hearing the Knothead logo story [I love that bandana .. he is the cutest piece of cloth scrap I have ever seen] … you should have short interesting stories for how all your great logos came into existence :-) Your illustrative logos are quite something, in this fast paced, modern, minimal world illustrative logos are dying down …don’t give up on them!

  17. Sneh | LBOI Blog Says:

    Oh shoot! Sorry for the name typo Jacob!

  18. Gäs Says:

    Excellent interview, Mike!

  19. Mike Erickson Says:

    Thanks Sneh and Gäs .

  20. Jacob Cass Says:

    No worries at all, I can’t take credit for it though, Mike did all the hard work. Thanks again!

  21. Jesus Comigo Says:

    please make a logo design for my site, its about gospel.

  22. Fabian Says:

    Mike is the thinking mans logo designer.Thanks for one of the best interviews I have ever read…Hey MIKE…change your site brother…lol…talk to you soon:)

  23. Logomotive Says:

    Thanks guys. Yes I know One day My site will be repaired. Busy with clients stuff right now. I appreciate the support and concern.


  24. Mike Erickson Says:

    I would also like to add to my comments that ‘follow up” with your clients, especially these days is very important part of your relations with your client and will lead to more work and future prospects. Let them know your still interested in their business and how it is doing. This can lead to more work down the road.

  25. Trish Says:

    Mike you are a logo design God. I’ve said it before. I envy you and admire you greatly. You are one of the few I wish total, over the top, rolling in money success for all the time.

    I really liked the interview, Jacob, and your stuff is ok, too. ;)

  26. Mike Erickson Says:

    Thanks Trish, I wish the same for you also.


  27. chris design Says:

    Great! well i should say its really great…… u are unique………

  28. Logon Says:

    CityDirect is very good. Good idea.

  29. Logon suunnittelu Says:

    Yes Mike looks like a real designer. =)

  30. Best Cheap Ugg Boots Says:

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  31. Dyan Preciado Says:

    Good site, I genuinely discovered it to be informative. I’m looking forward to visiting again to determine what is recent.

  32. Logomotive Says:

    Many thanks guys. I hope you enjoyed.

  33. Artistdanz Says:

    Inspiring stuff Mike. Well done.

  34. Robert Says:

    WOW, just from the quality of work it is obvious there is experience and some serious cleverness behind them! Some really good pointers to be taken from the interview too,

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