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Different Fur

3 October, 2010

Had a gig recently, designing a new logo/brand identity for Different Fur, a recording studio that has been tucked away in a nondescript residential-looking space along 19th Street for something like 40 years.  Patrick, the owner (who worked his way up from assistant studio hand), showed me a bunch of examples of styles he liked, some of which he’d pulled out of the New Bohemia Signs Flickr set.  He pointed out an old logo of theirs they liked (which you can see atop their website/blog, at least for the time being), but wanted to update, while still keeping something of its deco style.  He wanted it to communicate “establishment”, the fact that they’ve been there a long time, and aren’t going away.  Maybe a little monumental.  “Not a hobby”, at any rate.

I wrote “nondescript” above, but I remember, some years ago, and for I dunno how many years prior, the front door of their white building was emblazoned with a giant stylized barking dog’s head.  They preferred not to directly reference fur and/or animals anymore.

I did some sketches:

I played around a bit with their old logo, and digitizing some of the sketch ideas:


I came up with a letter style I liked, and tried a few permutations of that:

We met again, for dinner, and talked a bit more in depth, Patrick flipping through my sketch book.  We talked about how he’d also like to have a monogram version of the logo, and how he was envisioning some kind of geometric shape involved, maybe a diamond.  I played around with that a bit, and sent him these:

But he’d also seen this sketch I’d done for St. Cyprian’s church, a few months back, and was curious to see something in a script style:

So, I drew these, after flipping through that Steven Heller book I’d recently bought, on mid-century modern storefront design:

And that last one was a hit! Which, frankly, I found exciting, ’cause I based it ’round this design I did, almost a decade ago, and loved, for a storefront that’s unfortunately no longer around:

The other day, I was flipping through a stack of old Kodak prints, looking for a picture of another old sign we’d done, for reference on a different job, and came across this tattered old shot of me painting that sign:

I remember carving a linoleum block from that image, thinking I might block print advertising postcards, but carving the block was about as far as my advertising head of steam got me:

Print your own!

Anyway, back to the matter at hand:  I refined my sketch of that last design, scanned it in, and started letter building:

And, bingo, bang-o, long story short, I slapped together some variations, they picked some, and we’re done!

I used an existing font for “studios”, Union Thug, from Letterhead.

Next, we’ll be working on a sign based on this, with some gilding involved.  They’re having a kind of “coming out” party, next month, once they’re (mostly) done remodeling the place, so we needed to have this bit ready for printing invitations and press materials.  Voila!

9 Comments leave one →
  1. John permalink
    3 October, 2010 19:47

    Hi, I found your blog on the Sign Painter movie website. I’ve been a sign painter for over 30 years. Good to know there’s a few of us still out there! Really nice work you’ve got here. Thank you.

    • 3 October, 2010 23:33

      Thanks for the compliment! Got any pix of your work up online? Where you working? Maybe it’s just the hub-bub ’bout the Sign Painter Movie, but I’m starting to believe that sign painting is a career on the rise!

      • 6 October, 2010 14:37

        I don’t think it’s the movie necessarily but then again, I’m only speaking from a personal stand-point. I found the movie website a couple of years after becoming obsessed with the idea of sign painting. Actually, you guys are the main reason I’ve gotten so passionate about it. I’m a graphic designer and I had a lady who runs a local non-profit org. in my town come to me about doing a sign for them and she wanted it painted. At that point, I hadn’t thought of painting it and didn’t really know how I would approach it. So I did some studying up online and found you guys. Actually, I had a hard time finding many active sign painters with websites, much less one that kept a blog! Besides your work, I think it was an interview with you I read that got me the most fired up. In a nutshell, it was the idea of keeping the art of the hand-painted sign alive because of the beauty and quality of something produced with a personal touch and human element in a sea of mass-produced, impersonal crap. Ultimately, it was the “fight against the homogenization of our culture” that I needed to be a part of.
        The only problem with people like me, who don’t live in places with an appreciation or neighborhood beautification projects going, is that it would be hard to not only find work, but to even find an active sign painter to apprentice with (there are zero in the area that I can find). It makes mastery a much slower process. ha.
        Anyway, the main point being that I think that it is folks like you that are helping to bring sign painting as a career back to life…and the Sign Painter Movie most definitely doesn’t hurt. Thanks for keeping my fire fueled by maintaining this blog. I check it daily!

      • 6 October, 2010 23:45

        Ah, the waves of that sea of impersonal crap–forever lapping at my toes, and every so often, sweeping me off the rocks! You’re reminding me to remain cognizant of being on some sort of mission! All too easy to forget at times.

        As haphazardly, and infrequently as I update this blog, you may be interested to check out my new Sign Shop Diary set on Flickr, where I’m trying to keep brief tabs on what’s going on at the shop from day to day. It’s not as wordy, or in-depth, as I might be, here, and it hasn’t been the drop-dead most fascinating week, this past week or so, but it’s just starting… It’s bound to hold something appealing, some occasional day or another–but you’re sure to see some of those waves rolling in, from time to time, too.

  2. John permalink
    4 October, 2010 11:45

    Thanks for replying! I’m working in Denver — just moved back here. My wife is getting a website together, so I’ll send you a link when it’s up.

  3. John Derickson permalink
    5 October, 2010 04:27

    Hi Damon … your mom posted this link on Facebook and I found it VERY interesting! Creativity at work. Wow, wish I had half that talent. Anyway, thanks for sharing and I wish you and Debra the best ….

    • 5 October, 2010 09:51

      Ahoy! Thanks, John. Deb just pointed Mom’s re-post out to me. Maybe see you over Thanksgiving?

  4. 21 October, 2010 07:23

    Very nice work guys, thank you for sharing your process.

    • 21 October, 2010 08:22

      Thank you, Annick. I’m always glad to hear people are getting something out of this.

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